Sicilia (Sicily)

The Mediterranean's largest island is a world until itself of Greek temples, active volcanoes, trendy resorts, crumbling baroque cities, and unexplored hinterlands

Sicily is a triangle of tangled, rich history at the tip of Italy's boot, the largest island in the Mediterranean and only nominally considered part of Italy at all.

It's a lush landscape of fertile valleys and imposing mountains, genteel resort towns and fantastic ancient ruins, glittering medieval mosaics and baroque cathedrals.

The largest island in the Mediterranean is a land of superlatives. Where else can you find...

  • The world's best-preserved Greek temple (at Agrigento)
  • The world's largest Greek theater (at Siracusa)
  • The world's most extensive Roman mosaics (at Piazza Armerina)
  • The world's most active volcano (Stromboli)
  • The world's trendiest Italian resort for the original jet-set (Taormina)
  • The world's most infamous criminal organization (the Mafia)
  • The world's original ice cream (snows from Mt. Etna flavored with lemon juice or almond milk)
  • The world's (arguably) best-known Greek myth (Rape of Persephone, near Enna)
  • The world's Least-known—but easily accessbile—prehistoric cave paintings (on the tiny island of Levanzo)
  • The world's most chaotic Italian captial, full of glittering mosaics, Arab-influenced churches, and vibrant street maarkets (Palermo)

Sicily is an endless spectacle of pagan festivals, puppet shows, seafaring lore, colorful folklore, intense food and wine, Mafia corruption, welcoming people, rumbling volcanoes, and a richly layered culture born from 2,500 years of ever-changing rule by Greek city-states, Saracen Emirs, Norman kings, Spanish viceroys, and Italian nationalists (the latter only since 1860).

Sicily's culture is one of the most enigmatic and difficult to fathom in Italy—Sicilian dialect is so far from common Italian that some consider it a distinct language—but this only serves to make the region one of the most fun to explore, and it secrets the most rewarding to discover.

Best of all, everything from decent hotel rooms to memorable meals comes at one-third the price of Rome or Venice.

No trip to Italy is complete without a visit to this island that sums up the best and the worst of Italy amid citrus groves, almond trees, and the hot Mediterranean sun.

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