As the power of the Mafia subsides (they have little interest in
tourists), Sicily's tourism has boomed in recent years. Influenced
by Romans, Normans, Greeks, Byzantines and Arabs, the island is
loaded with interest, from historic sights through spectacular nature
to distinguished local cuisine.
Unfortunately the legacy of years of corruption, evidenced by massive, style-free, overbuilding is for all to see, though a few fine buildings have survived.
Tourists can get there by train and bus by bridge from the mainland
as well as by air - both domestic and international. Alternatively, as a car in Sicily is useful, wheeled tourists might consider an 18 hour car ferry trip from Genoa or less from Livorno to Palermo. Sicily Map.
Sicily island; Palermo's corrupt and overbuilt downside.
Sicily's main things to do
- the capital, Palermo, contains many of the island's primary attractions, although it is
polluted, crowded and mostly seedy and unattractive, but still worth a few days.
The places to see are the outstanding 12th century Duomo (cathedral)
at Monreale, Palazzo dei Normanni (Royal Palace), with Cappella
Palatina known for its prominent Byzantine golden mosaics, and also
the Regional Archaeological Museum, with some significant treasures
including two Phoenician sarcophagi.
- Siracusa, Greek ruins, once the most
powerful city in Greece, now sharing space with Roman ruins as well.
Try Greek dramas played every summer at the Teatro Greco (amphitheatre).
- the Valle del Templi at Agrigento,
a group of Greek temples overlooking the sea and the most interesting
Greek ruins outside Greece.
- the Villa Romana del Casale, 6 km
from Piazza Armerina.
- Noto, located in the southeast of
the island, is a pleasant little town known for its remarkable Baroque
- Mount Etna, an active volcano (3,330m)
and the largest in Europe, dominates the island and is home to many
outdoor activities. It even becomes a ski resort in winter. Piano Provenzana is the nearest base, Catania is 20 miles (32km)
- Taormina, an elegant resort town
is where D. H. Lawrence wrote his novel 'Lady Chatterley's Lover'.
It has a picturesque Greek theatre with a view of Mt. Etna and also
excellent beaches nearby, especially Giardini-Naxos.
Sicily's upside, hiking on Mt Etna.
islands off Sicily, easily reached by car ferries or hydrofoils
*The Aeolian islands, north of Sicily, have crystal clear waters. The
biggest of all is Lípari, a popular island resort with beautiful
beaches (though hot black sand) and is the best base for the area.
** Panarea is the most scenic and romantic
- popular with honeymooners, while Stómboli is an active
cone with occasional volcanic explosions. 'Si, bella, the earth
move for me!'
The Egadi islands of Favignana, Levanzo and Marettimo seen from Sicily.
Égadi islands (also Aegadian Islands) are some of the least commercial places in Italy, ideal hideaways
for those fleeing massed tourists.
Maréttimo is the biggest but furthest, with very few facilities
but lovely rocky coves and hidden beaches.
The smallest is Lévanzo, known for its Grotta del Genovese,
with 6, 000 year old cave paintings.
with first underwater nature reserve in Italy, is the best diving
site in the country. 75 minutes from Palermo, Sicily by hydrofoil.
70 miles off Sicily, are closer to Tunisia than Italy so more Arab
than Italian, with a volcanic landscape and celebrities queuing
for the exotic heat.
Although there are no beaches, scenic rocky coves are lovely for
swimming, and it has a lake, hot springs, mud baths, and some exclusive
hotels as well.
like Pantelleria, a long way off Sicily (120 miles) and nearer to
Tunisia, this little island has very little rain, a rock desert
landscape with small white sand beaches, turquoise water and lots
of stunning rocky coves, grottos and inlets. Travel there by plane
from Palermo or other Italy cities in summer months.
This is the second largest island in Mediterranean (after Sicily),
with some of Europe's most glorious beaches. See Sardinia Guide and Pictures, Sardinia Map
in the Pontine Islands, is one of few resorts to escape the tourist
plague, with some of Italy's most splendid beaches, among them Chiaia
di Luna, or the rocky cove of Piscine Naturali for sheltered swimming.
There are some good dive sites around its islets, particularly Palmarola.
Elba island, off Tuscany, Italy.
Italy's third largest island and Napoleon's late home is located
off the Tuscan coast.
It is somewhat overrun by package tourists, but with 90 miles of coastline,
action-packed holiday villages and loads of sandy beaches, it's
still a great beach holiday destination, especially for families.
For more solitude try the untouched island of Capraia, 30 km off
**Cápri (pictured at top)
There are no sandy beaches or major historic sights on the island
but this legendary resort in the Bay of Naples has been loved for
its spectacular landscapes and cliff walks since the Roman era.
The prime attraction is the *Blue Grotto (Grotta Azzura), a watery
cave illuminated by sunlight. Try to stay a night at least rather
The island is easily accessible by ferries and hydrofoils from mainly Naples (about 1hr 20 minutes) and Sorrento (about 30 minutes).
If beaches are your priority, go to Ischia island, nearer to Naples,
which has also hot springs and a spa.