Over to the south-east, the Baroque city of Catania, birthplace of the composer Bellini (remembered in the Museo Civico Belliniano), is worth a visit, and makes a good base for the lion-hearted who wish to visit Etna.
Siracusa, perhaps better known as Syracuse, was an important Greek town, home to Archimedes. Its Greek theatre still stands, and classic dramas are performed here each year.
The best of Sicily is its nature. You can never forget the beautiful landscapes of hills, vineyards, olive groves, almond orchards and endless wheat fields. Sicily is an island and, thus, is surrounded by the sea so blue that it seems unreal. In addition, I should mention, that the sea is not only beautiful, but also very good for swimming. Nearby Sicily you also can find a huge amount of the small islands, which are also worth visiting.
Above the blue of the sea and the greenery of the fields rise magnificent mountains. Europe's greatest natural wonder, Mount Etna is situated on Sicily.
The other thing Sicily is famous for is its cuisine. Like all on the island, the food represent a refined mix of East and West. The main ingredient is fish. As a land with a lot of vineyards, Sicily has its own wines that are rapidly becoming world-popular.
This island, separated from the other parts of Italy has its special magic and is the perfect place for rest.
Getting To Sicily
Large, cruise-ferries link Palermo with Civitavecchia, Naples, Genoa, Livorno, Sardinia and other Mediterranean destinations.
Be sure to order place for your car, or yourself, if your a pedestrian because only the Messina-straight ferries are open without reservation. The are also car ferries between Milazzo, the Aeolian Islands and Naples, and between Trapani and Tunis. From Catania you can reach Naples and Malta. From Messina you can reach Salerno.
Across the Straits of Messina, there are at least hourly ferries between Messina on Sicily and Villa San Giovanni on the mainland. There are at least twenty of them, so don't worry about timetables or waiting too long. If you only drive a car, you can also drive onboard the BLUVIA rail/train ferries. There are also several hydrofoils each day between Messina and Reggio di Calabria.
There are also ferries running from Reggio Di Calabria city, to Messina-Sud and Catamarans and ferries running to/ from Malta from Pozzallo and Catania. To book a ferry ticket please click here.
Sicilian Food and Drink
Sicily is rightly famed for its food and drink, and the island's cuisine reflects the different cultural influences which have shaped Sicily over the centuries.
Sicily's rich desserts and pastries are famed far and wide. Cannoli, sweet tubes of ricotta, can be found all over Italy but those in Sicily are the original and the best. Arab influences show in the popular brightly-coloured sweets made of marzipan, and in the sinfully rich cassata, which comes in both ice cream and cake varieties, made from ricotta with bits of candied fruit and chocolate. Ice cream, gelato is another speciality, to be enjoyed during a leisurely evening passeggiata.
Sicily's home-grown products make for a rich and varied spread, ranging from bright oranges and lemons to tasty cheeses like pecorino. Seafood is another staple of the diet, particularly around the coastal towns. Pasta with sardines (con le sarde) is local favourite. Around Catania you will find pasta or pizza alla Norma (named after Catania boy Bellini's opera), with tomato, ricotta and aubergine. Couscous, eaten particularly in the west of the island, is another example of Sicily's mixed food heritage.
One of the treats of a hot day is a good granita. This refreshing slush of fruit and ice comes served with both a spoon and a straw, and is a delicious way to cool down in the sunshine. The most zingy flavours are fresh local lemons or the Sicilian oranges which can also be enjoyed as a freshly-squeezed juice (a spremuta).
Sicily's most renowned wine is Marsala, a dessert wine, but there are several good reds and whites from different parts of the island, including Etna, where grapes are grown on the fertile slopes of the volcano. Restaurants invariably offer a house wine, white or red, which is generally cheap, local and of reasonable quality. A speciality of the eastern coast is vino alla mandorla, made with almonds.
As well as all the local culinary specialities, you'll also find all the normal Italian foods like pizza and pasta in every variety. Cheap and tasty hot snacks can be bought from a tavola calda, rosticceria or a bar, where they'll heat sandwiches for you. You can stock up on picnic food at supermarkets or general stores, where they may make up rolls for you. Desserts sometimes seem like an afterthought in Italian restaurants; you can usually find a more inspiring (and economical) choice at one of the islands many pastry shops (pasticcerie).