Sicily Italy

by | Dec 3, 2020 | Destinations, Travel and Education

A great place for your next journey

Sicily, Italy an UNESCO a World Heritage Site

 

Sicily, Italy Travel ideas are abundant. In fact, almost every place here is special. Therefore, On this site, I am listing some popular and important locations for you to consider. Additionally, I will include information about each of these sites. Ultimately, you might soon find Sicily on your bucket list of travel destinations.

You never know, it might be just right for your next vacation.

Mt Etna

Sicily, Italy has so much for you to see and experience

Additionally, it is a special place to visit year round.

As well, Sicily has a variety and abundance of activities and sites. That said, Sicily, Italy travel offers something of interest for every visitor. Uniquely, it is located just south of mainland Italy, in the Mediterranean Sea. Furthermore, you will find that this location is responsible for a rich history and a one-of-a-kind, natural environment.

After all, Sicily has been a magnet to people for thousands of years. Ultimately, I am sure that you will be charmed by its fascinating historical sites, ruins of ancient civilizations, stunning art, breathtaking scenery, charming medieval villages, and delicious food.

For Nature Lovers

In particular, if you are an outdoor enthusiast, Sicily’s variety of landscapes will leave you at a loss for words. Moreover, its tall mountains, active volcanos, stunning beaches, clear turquoise water and picturesque, countrysides are bursting with olive groves and vineyards for your delight.

Furthermore, I’m convinced that the combination of Sicily’s physical and human-made treasures will leave you wanting more. Not only that, its delicious food and friendly people will ensure your happiness that you chose this destination for your next travel adventure.

These are some Sicily Italy travel favorites of mine, but be sure to discover your own. You will find those will keep you wanting to return to Sicily

Palermo Sicily Italy

Places of Interest in Palermo

  • Palazzo dei Normanni (Palazzo Reale)
  • Quattro Canti, officially known as Piazza Vigliena, a Baroque square
  • Palermo Cathedral
  • The Teatro Massimo
  • Teatro Politeama
  • Palazzo Abatellis
  • Museo dei Pupi Siciliani
  • Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo
  • Orto Botanico di Palermo
  • Monreale Cathedral

Start Exploring

Sicily’s capital of Palermo has 750,000 inhabitants

Like everyplace in Sicily, the city of Palermo is known for it’s rich culture. Given that, it would be impossible to visit all of Palermo’s places of interest in one day.

Overall, Palermo is an interesting, eclectic city. Clearly, you will see how those who have been here throughout time have left their marks in so many ways.

Even more, this northern city, is a mixture of many different time periods. Additionally, you will find the influence by many cultures including a grand mixture of their architectural and artistic contributions.

Without a doubt, to get the most from your Sicily, Italy travel. I find it’s best to have a car except when driving in the larger cities such as Palermo.

Marsala -Saline-Sicily

Marsala, Sicily, Italy, and the saline

The city of Marsala is located on the north-west coast of Sicily. Notably, it is famous for its delicious wines.

Marsala’s name derives from the Arabian Mars-el-Allah, meaning “Harbor of God.”

Interesting fact: It was here at Marsala that Garibaldi and his mille (a 1000 men strong militia) landed in 1860. Moreover, this event started the armed struggle to unify Italy. Further, the conflict is known as the Risorgimento.

Indeed, we recommended that you visit Marsala in the morning. Specifically, the Piazza Addolorata and the Piazza del Popolo market are well worth visiting and some of the museums.

Agrigento and other historic, Sicily, Italy Travel

Agrigento Sicily Italy Temple of June Valley of the Temples
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Valley of the Temples or Ancient Akragas

The Valley of the Temples is the most important testimony to the ancient, classical culture of Sicily. Clearly, it represents Greek contributions during their colonization of Sicily. As a result, it includes Temples of Gods and Goddesses and the Necropolis and other sanctuaries outside its walls.

In fact, Akragas is located on a ridge near the ocean and below the city of Agrigento in a stunning location. To be sure, you will be awed by these Hellenistic grand monuments. As well, some have been restored, adding awe to their perfect location.

Doric Temples

Notably, you will find 7 Temples built in the Doric Style. They were built during the 6th and 5th centuries B.C. What is more, some are quite intact while others have little remaining of the original monuments.

Models of other temples are in the Archeological Museum in Agrigento

Agrigento Sicily Valley of the temples model in the Museum
Agrigento Sicily Valley of the temples model in the Museum

In the museum, you can see remnants of The Temple of Olympian Zeus. Remarkably, This is the largest Doric temple ever built. However, it was never completed and lay in ruins in the Valle Dei Templi with other important Greek temples.

What is more, the site’s unique charm is a result of its blend of the cultural environment, stunning views, natural landscape, and amazing feats of architecture.

The Temple of Castor and Pollux (Dioscuri). The story goes that these two were twin brothers born from the union of Jupiter and the Queen of Sparta. Today, all that remains of the temple are four columns. Thus, these columns have become the symbol of Agrigento. Note the photo on the top row right side.

Akragas and the city of Agrigento, more Sicily, Italy Travel

In the first place, Agrigento was founded by the Greeks, who called it Akragas. Moreover, this beautiful city was later almost completely destroyed by the Carthaginians. In fact, the Carthaginians were Phoenician settlers who came from the Mediterranean coast of the “Near East,” specifically, modern-day Lebanon. They competed for access to resource-rich territories and control of lucrative trade routes. However, in the end, they proved to be outmatched by Rome.

Besides, other culprits contributed to Agrigento’s demise. In the end, earthquakes and the harvesting of the temple stones for use in building elsewhere further deteriorated these fantastic structures.

The rediscovery of Akragas began towards the end of the eighteenth century, and yet much of it has not been excavated.

The city of Agrigento on the hill above the Temples’ Valley is very hospitable and the people lovely. Consequently, it would be best if you took time for a detour. In fact, we recommend you stay in one of its charming inns, visit the Archeological Museum or have a wonderful Sicilian meal.

Church being restored in Agrigento Christmas scene on the front photo by Danette Ulrich
A church being restored in Agrigento Christmas scene on the front photo by Danette Ulrich
Breakfast in Agrigento Sicily Italy Photo Danette Ulrich

Siracusa, Sicily Italy Travel

Siracusa (Syracuse in English) is the capital of the province of Syracuse. In fact, the city is notable for its rich Greek, Roman history, culture, amphitheaters, and architecture. Furthermore, it is known as the birthplace of the mathematician and engineer Archimedes. This 2,700-year-old city played a key role in ancient times when it was the Mediterranean world’s major power.

Other cultures who contributed to Siracusa’s tapestry

Siracusa was once one of ancient Greece’s most important cities. However, today, a city of about 125,000 people on Sicily’s southeast coast is known for its rich past. For instance, when visiting, you will see a city overflowing with amazing remnants from its long history. Furthermore, this history includes the influences of Romans, Vandals, and Normans who ruled here after the Greeks. All of these cultures made their mark on Sicily.

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Things to do and see in Siracusa, Sicily

  • The Greek Theatre is impressive, inspiring, historically important, and has amazing views. Above all, one can imagine the voices of the great Greek heroes on stage. Additionally, you might find the amphitheater stimulating while you daydream of an event thousands of years earlier. For example, there is evidence here of several historical periods. Indeed, these periods range from prehistoric ages to late Antiquity and the Byzantine era. Finally, this theatre is one of the biggest in the world. Not only that, the Greek Theatre was entirely carved into the rock by hand.
  • The Ear of Dionysius is named for its ear shape and, above all, for its notable acoustic feature of amplifying sounds inside. As a matter of fact, according to legend, the tyrant Dionysus used it as a jail. As such, he was able to eavesdrop on the prisoners’ conversations. What is more, the human-made cave is located in Latonia del Paradiso. Significantly, this location is an ancient stone quarry located under the Greek Theatre.
  • Piazza Duomo Is one of the most famous and beautiful squares in Italy. Besides, It is surrounded by incredible, baroque palaces. To be sure, it is the center of the community and religious life of the ancient city of Syracuse, also known as Ortygia. Ona further note, Piazza Duomo is a UNESCO heritage site.
  • The Cathedral (Duomo) in Syracuse was built in the 7th century on the Temple of Athena’s remains in the 5th century BC. To explain, it was originally a Doric temple. However, its Doric columns were later blended into the walls of the current church. Furthermore, the roof of the nave and the mosaics in the apses are from Norman times. Finally, at the back of the square, in the Church of Santa Lucia Alla Badia, you can see the painting “The Burial of Saint Lucy” by Italian painter Caravaggio. Without a doubt, this painting created by Italian painter Caravaggio is a masterpiece. Markedly, this important painting tells of the martyrdom of the patron saint of Syracuse.
  • Museo Archeologico Regionale Paolo Orsi is one of the most important archaeological museums in Europe. As such, you can see pieces dating from prehistory to the Greek-Roman period. In fact, all of the antiquities here originated from excavations in the city and other locations in Sicily.
  • Maniace Castle is named after the Byzantine Commander Giorgio Maniace. To explain, Emperor Federico II had it built upon an earlier ancient fort between the years 1232-1240. You will find Maniace Castle located on Ortigia Island in Syracuse.
  • Eurialo Castle is one of the largest and most complete military works of the Greek period. Additionally, the Castle was built by Dionysus I, known as the tyrant of Syracuse. Furthermore, he had it built to complete his great defensive system called the Dionysian Walls. In fact, the walls ran alongside the edge of the plateau.
  • The Temple of Appolo is the oldest Doric temple in Sicily. What is more, its history has changed many times. For instance, it was first a Christian Church; then it became a Mosque, then again a Norman Church, Finally it became a barracks at Charles V’s time.
Mosaic at Villa Casale in Sicily Italy

Villa Romana del Casale

The Villa Romana del Casale is a large and elaborate villa of the late Roman Empire. Additionally, the Villa is located 3 km from the town of Piazza Armerina, Sicily, Italy.

Piazza Armerina flourished during Roman times, as we see by the large mosaics at the Patrician.

In brief, excavations here started in the 1800s. As a result, they uncovered one of the richest, largest, and most diverse Roman mosaics collections in the world.

Fittingly, the site has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Photo Visit Sicily.com

Other Worthwhile Destinations in your Sicily, Italy Travel

Book a unique tour, make a self-drive escape, explore other amazing sites but be sure to begin planning your next memorable vacation.

Mt Etna Sicily photo by Danette Ulrich

Mt Etna

Lampedusa Island Sicily

Lampedusa

Taormina Sicily

Taormina

Were a man to spend only one day in Sicily and ask, “What must one see?” I would answer him without hesitation, “Taormina.”

Guy de Maupassant

Mount Etna and the Ionian Sea provide the amazing backdrop for Taormina, a legendary resort town on the north-east coast of Sicily.

Sicilian Recipes

From the website: https://www.visitsicily.info

Pasta alla Norma

pasta alla Norma-2 jpg recipe
pasta alla Norma recipe

Who was Norma?

What has the Norma by Vincenzo Bellini got to do with it? For example, ask someone from Catania. As a result, you might be told about a lovely teacher. Whereas others might say it was an exclamation by Nino Martoglio who was delighted with the taste. It has been noted that some people explain that its about an opera company who, every evening after their performance of Norma at the Bellini theatre asked the trattoria to serve them a fast, tasty dish. 

Whatever the true story is, Pasta Alla Norma is a very simple first course, rich in taste, from Catania, Sicily. Additionally, It usually consists of the simple ingredients of macaroni seasoned with tomato sauce, fried aubergines, salted ricotta, and basil.

Ingredients for 4: 

  • 400g penne rigate or macaroni
  • 500ml tomato sauce
  • 1-2 aubergines
  • salted ricotta
  • extra virgin olive oil, 1 clove garlic, basil.

Preparation:

First, slice the aubergines, layer them in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Second, leave them to drain for half an hour to lessen their bitterness. Third, prepare the tomato sauce by frying the garlic gently in a pan with some extra virgin olive oil. Fourth, add the tomato sauce and a little salt and continue cooking for about 15 minutes. Fifth, add a few basil leaves. Sixth, fry the aubergines in a fair amount of oil, then cut them into strips and place them in the pan with the tomato sauce. Finally, cook the pasta, add the sauce and aubergines,, and dust with grated, salted, ricotta.

Cannoli Siciliani

Sicilian Cannoli
Scillian Cannoli and recipe

Cannoli Siciliani or Sicilian Cannolis are the most traditional of all Sicilian confections. Originally, Cannoli were prepared during carnival season. However, they are now made all year round.

Ingredients for 4-6 cannoli

For the shells:
  • 150 g of ’00’ flour
  • 50 g of caster sugar
  • 25 g of lard
  • 10 g cocoa powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon of marsala or white wine
  • extra virgin olive oil
For the filling:
  • 500 g of sheep’s milk ricotta
  • 150 g of sugar
  • vanilla extract
  • dark chocolate
  • candied orange peel
  • chopped pistachios

Preparation

  • Preparation Method: (for the shells): First, place all ingredients in a bowl and mix, adding a little wine or vinegar. Keep in mind that the finished dough should have the same consistency as egg pasta. Second, cover the dough with a dish towel and allow it to rest for about 30 minutes. Third, roll out the dough with a rolling pin to create thin sheets. Note: (an egg pasta machine can also be used).
  • To create the shells, First, cut out oval shapes, if necessary using kitchen paper as a template. Second, wrap the cut shapes around special tin tubes (reeds were once used for this purpose, hence the name), overlapping the edges of the dough by a few millimetres. Third, brush the edge with lightly beaten egg white. The eggwhite acts like a glue to hold the shell in place in and prevents the cannoli from opening during cooking. Fourth, fry them in hot oil or olive oil.
  • Allow the shells to dry and cool. Next, carefully remove the tin tubes.

Finishing:

Method (for the filling): First, pass the ricotta cheese through a fine sieve (the use of electric whisks or mixers is not recommended as they will make the ricotta too thin). Secondly, add the vanilla extract, chocolate flakes, and sugar. Third, fill the cannoli with the filling. Finally, once all the cannoli have been filled, decorate them with whatever you choose such as candied orange peel and ground pistachios, then dust with icing sugar.

Eggplant Parmigiana

Parmigiana di melanzane or eggplant parmigiana
Parmigiana di melanzane or Eggplant Parmigiana photo by Fabio Cavasenna

Every self-respecting Sicilian man or woman can recognize the divine smell of a freshly baked Parmigiana, before seeing it. Additionally, it is second nature for these folks to describe the taste sensation of this delicacy. Words are not adequate in explaining the taste sensation of biting crispy parmesan crust and reaching the layers of fried aubergines. Additionally they will be buried by fresh tomato sauce and mozzarella or caciocavallo cheese.

Authentic Sicilian Parmigiana

Here it is! The recipe for Sicilian Parmigiana! Without a doubt, it is a wonderful, one-dish meal, appetizer, or side dish. Hot, lukewarm, and even cold it is delicious while you are able to appreciate every single flavor. In addition, Parmigiana is one of the most loved dishes of Sicilian cooking. Furthermore, It is a traditional recipe that every southern, Italian family cherishes and one they hand down from one generation to the next.

The battle over Eggplant Parmesan’s origin

Be aware that Eggplant Parmesan is the cause of one of the most fierce food disputes in Italy. To sum it up, Sicily, Naples, and Parma claim to have originated this particular cooking style and this important dish.

However, the theory that eggplants were brought to Sicily from India in the 15th century is enough for many to believe that it is a Sicilian dish. Furthermore, because of another assumption, the name parmigiana comes from the Sicilian word “parmiciana”, meaning a set of overlapped wooden slats which form the window shutters. Therefore, they say these shurtters represent the layers of aubergines and seasonings making up this tasty dish.

Academia della Crusca determination of authenticity

Finally, to clear out any doubt about its possible Sicilian origin, the Academia Della Crusca (the most important research institution of the Italian language), states that our Parmigiana has nothing to do with parmesan cheese. The ancient and original recipe, in fact, includes Sicilian pecorino in place of parmesan cheese.

Whatever its origins, and luckily for you, this is a dish you can eat anywhere in Italy in any season.

Here is the classical recipe

The classical recipe, full of basil leaves can also be enriched, as a more savory version with some hard-boiled eggs.

Photo: Fabio Cavasenna

Difficulty Level:Medium
Servings: 8 people

Ingredients
  • 1,5 kg oval black eggplants
  • 1,4 l tomato sauce
  • 500 g mozzarella cheese
  •  150 g parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • extra-virgin olive oil  as required
  • black pepper as required
  • some basil leaves
  • salt as required
  • peanut oil as required(for frying)
Preparation
  • Wash and dry the aubergines. Using a large chef’s knife, slice off the top and bottom of the eggplant, then cut thin slices lengthwise (4-5 mm thick). Sprinkle the slices with the salt and let stand in a colander for 1 hour to drain some liquid. Put a plate and a weight over them to increase the pressure.
  • In the meantime, dice the mozzarella cheese and let it drain.
  • In a large saucepan, heat a little olive oil. Add the chopped onions and sauté until fragrant (2-3 min.). Continue adding the tomato sauce and a little water. Season with salt and cook to a simmer for about 40 minutes. When it is ready, do not forget to add the chopped  basil leaves.
  • Dry the eggplant slices with paper towels to remove any extra moisture. Fry them in a generous amount of seed oil over medium high heat. Add the slices, a few at a time, to the hot oil. Saute on both sides until lightly golden and then drain them on paper towels.
Finishing
  • Using a 20×30 cm baking dish, start with a layer of sauce, then layer some eggplant slices horizontally. Grate a little black pepper over the slices and sprinkle with Parmesan and mozzarella cheese.
  • Finally, pour a little more tomato sauce and put the fresh basil leaves. Continue the layers alternating the eggplant slices vertically and horizontally until all the ingredients have been used or the dish is full.
  • After this, add any remaining tomato sauce, basil leaves, mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Bake at 200° for 30 minutes. Remove the eggplant Parmesan from the oven and let the dish rest for a while before serving.  Enjoy your meal!  (recipe www.giallozafferano.it)

Post by Danette Ulrich

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