While many travelers who visit Italy never make it south of Rome, people who take cruises around Italy almost inevitably stop on the island of Sicily. Famous for its exceptional beaches and historic attractions (not to mention great food and wine), it can be hard to narrow down your options for what to do during a cruise stop. Here are some tips to help cruise visitors in Sicily.
One of the many allures of a vacation on the island of Sicily is the number of beaches along the ample coastline. Even if you’re spending most or all of your trip in the bustling city of Palermo, you can still hit the many beaches located near the city – all of which makes Palermo an ideal destination for those of you who crave variety in your vacation days. In between stops at Palermo’s many historic sights, museums, markets, and fantastic restaurants, you can soak up the sun on its nearby beaches.
The island of Sicily is an ideal place for visitors in Italy who genuinely want to get away from the tourist crowds in Rome or Florence. Sicily is by no means “undiscovered,” but it’s far less often visited (especially by non-Europeans) than northern Italy. Getting to Sicily isn’t too difficult, either flying directly to the island or getting there on public transportation from the Italian mainland, but getting around on Sicily can be more of a challenge. Here’s what you need to know.
Italy has more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any other country on earth, and Sicily alone currently has five. The most recent Sicilian addition to the list came in 2005, and there’s no reason UNESCO won’t find more worthy places in Sicily to add to the list in future years. Here are the details about the five current UNESCO sites in Sicily, but if you’re a real UNESCO site collector it’s a good idea to check the most up-to-date list of Sicilian sites on the official UNESCO website to see if anything new has been added recently.
Most islands are famous for at least some of their beaches, and Sicily is no exception. What used to be a little fishing village near Palermo has transformed in recent years to be one of Sicily’s most popular beach towns – Mondello Lido. Here’s what you need to know if you’ve got Mondello Lido on your must-see list in Sicily.
Most people wouldn’t blink at the association of the words “Italy” and “wine,” but the country’s most famous wines tend to be from regions in the north – Tuscany’s chianti or Piedmont’s brunello, to name just a couple. Every region in Italy produces wine, and even novice wine enthusiasts will appreciate going wine tasting in a place where you’re going to try wines you aren’t likely to find back home – places like Sicily.
Sometimes when a city is a major gateway to a place, that city is overlooked as people rush to get through it and on to wherever they’re headed. In a city like Messina, the main gateway to Sicily, there are plenty of reasons to stop and see the sights before heading to your next destination on the island.
Palermo is Sicily’s biggest city and its capital, so even if your itinerary includes other destinations on the island you’d be crazy to not spend at least a couple days in Palermo. The city is crammed with history, gorgeous churches, a variety of architectural styles, and great food. Listing everything to do in Palermo would take ages, but this selection should give you a good head start. After that, devote some time to just wandering aimlessly and “discovering” Palermo for yourself.
Sicily’s history as a frequently-conquered (and re-conquered) island left it with a more eclectic mix of cultures than you’ll find in most other parts of Italy. That’s true of the architecture and the art as well as the cuisine. There are popular ingredients and flavor combinations in Sicily that are practically unheard of elsewhere in the country, so it’s important to go into a Sicily trip with a little background information – and an empty stomach.
There are some people who won’t be discouraged from climbing a mountain, any mountain, even if they hear it’s one of the most active volcanoes on earth, in a near-constant state of erupting. That’s exactly how Sicily’s Mt. Etna can be described, and yet you can still go on a hiking tour of Mt. Etna. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that in order to climb to the upper parts of Mt. Etna, however, you really need a guide.