We’re accustomed to thinking about the Roman ruins that we might see when visiting Italy. Italy is, after all, where the Roman Empire got its start. But it sometimes comes as a surprise to find that, particularly in the southern part of the country, Italy is also home to some of the best-preserved Greek ruins as well. The Greek ruins on Sicily are some of the island’s most popular tourist attractions, and with good reason.
Italy is full of romantic destinations, with its hilltop villages, ancient ruins, snow-covered mountains, and sparkling beaches – it might seem hard to choose just one part of the country to spend a romantic holiday with your sweetheart. The good news is that with a trip to Sicily, you get all those settings (and more) right on the island. Here are some romantic destinations in Sicily for a honeymoon, anniversary trip, or simply a getaway for two.
Sicily sometimes feels like one of the most “conquered” places in the world. Over the centuries, the island’s strategic position in the Mediterranean meant that it was invaded and then ruled by the Greeks, Romans, and Arabs before eventually becoming part of a unified Italy. Among the conquering cultures were the Normans, who ruled over Sicily from 1061 until 1194. They left behind many buildings that are still standing, with a unique version of Norman architecture in Sicily. Indeed, the Normans occupied most of southern Italy, so you’ll see examples of Norman architecture from this period on the mainland, too.
The Christmas season is a fun time to be in Italy, as it’s a major holiday on the Italian calendar. Each part of the country has its own twists on celebrations, including Sicily. What makes visiting Sicily at Christmastime especially nice is not just the festivities but also the fact that the weather is usually milder on the island than it is further north in the Italian mainland.
Catania, on the eastern coast of Sicily, has been destroyed several times since it was first founded. The culprit hasn’t been marauding invaders, however – it’s been geologic features of the island itself. Specifically, Catania has been leveled by earthquakes and eruptions of Mount Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano, which rises just next to Catania itself. The city hasn’t been destroyed in several hundred years now, thankfully, and Mount Etna is seen more as a tourist attraction than an everyday threat.
Messina serves as the gateway city to Sicily from the Italian mainland, sitting as it does just across the Straits of Messina from the Calabria region. But Messina is one of the largest cities in Italy, and has enough attractions to keep most people entertained for at least a couple of days. If you want to get off the regular tourist trail a bit, let everyone else pour further into Sicily from the port in Messina – you can stick around and see the sights.
You might expect that Taormina, one of Sicily’s premier beach resort towns for more than 100 years, would be right on the water. Instead, the town is situated on a hill overlooking the water. Luckily, there’s the Funivia – a cable car that will get you back and forth between the town and the beach with ease.
Palermo has plenty of sights that you’d expect to find in an Italian city – historic buildings, beautiful churches, art-filled museums. But every city has its quirky sights, too, and Palermo is no exception. Only Palermo takes “weird” to a whole new (and, some might say, dark) level.
The island of Sicily is, like any island with a warm Mediterranean climate should be, a popular destination during the summer months when Italians and other Europeans head for the beach. But Sicily is arguably more pleasant in the autumn, when the unbearable heat has subsided and most of the vacationers have gone back up north.
The city Agrigento on the island of Sicily is located on the southern coast, so you might think its popularity is due to its beaches. Instead, the main attractions are historic in nature – the spectacular Ancient Greek temples in what’s known as the “Valley of the Temples” just outside the city.