The largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily has it all – rich culture, stunning coastline, sumptuous food and a towering volcano. Get the inside story from specialist tour operator Jules Verne
Things to see and doNowhere better reflects Sicily’s melting pot of influences than its capital, Palermo, for thousands of years the meeting point of important Mediterranean trade routes. Its historical highlights include the church of La Martorana with its 12th-century mosaics, and the Capella Palatina in the Palazzo Reale, designed in 1130 by Sicily’s King Roger II and with glittering gold mosaics and marble floors. In Monreale, a hill-town just outside Palermo, the Gothic cathedral is also home to yet more amazing mosaics. For something more modern, head to the Palazzo Riso, Palermo’s contemporary art gallery.
Equally as enchanting is the seaside resort of Cefalú, the backdrop to some of the most memorable scenes in the gorgeous Italian film Cinema Paradiso (some of which was also filmed in Palermo). Perhaps the island’s most admired spot, though, is Taormina, perched high above the sea on a rocky promontory, whose Greek Theatre is one of Sicily’s most fascinating historical monuments. The views from here are breathtaking.
Don’t miss Mount EtnaTake the chance to get close up to Mount Etna. Take a guided tour by coach to 1,900 metres and then, if you want to climb higher towards the summit, you can take a four-wheel drive minibus. There’s also a cable car from Rifugio Sapienza. Another must-do is a day trip to some of the Aeolian Islands. Stromboli is perhaps the most dramatic, particularly at sunset when you can see the trail of smoke from the lava flow.
Cuisine of Sicily
Thanks to its rich history and fertile land, Sicily has one of the best regional cuisines in the Mediterranean. You’ll feast on fresh sardines,anchovies, swordfish and prawns and succulent lamb and pork. Inspired by the Arabs, one of the favourite traditional Sicilian dishes is pasta con le sarde, a delicious pasta with sardines, wild fennel, saffron, raisins, and pine nuts. The island is also known for its citrus fruits and grows most of Europe’s blood oranges.