The cuisine of Sicily is Italian in style, with distinct Greek and Arabic influences gained throughout the island’s history. Fish, olives and broad beans offer hints of Greece – particularly on the east coast that borders the Ionian Sea, whilst the use of apricots, rice, saffron, couscous, sugar and citrus offers comparisons with North African cuisine. Some of the best known Sicilian dishes include arancine (fried rice balls filled with meat), couscous al pesce (couscous with seafood), and caponata (a salad with aubergines, olives, capers, and celery). Sicily is also particularly well known for its excellent desserts that include Cannoli (pastry desserts filled with ricotta and sugar filling), Frutta di Martorana (marzipan and almond fruit shapes), and of course, gelato. All of this can be enjoyed with a delicious glass of the excellent Sicilian wine – the island has more vineyards than any other part of Italy.
All over Sicily you will find historical sites that hint towards the island’s rich and diverse past. Evidence of Roman, Byzantine, Islamic, Catalan, and Greek influences – to name just a few – are still visible in abundance across Sicily. The island’s strategic position on the Mediterranean trade routes has been coveted by many different rulers over time. Some of the fascinating sights to see include the Greco-Roman amphitheatre in Taormina on the east coast of Sicily, the Baroque architecture of beautiful Catania, and the many historic sites of ancient Siracusa. These include the temple of Apollo, temple of Olympian Zeus, Roman amphitheatre, and the 7th Century cathedral (which actually stands on the remains of a much older building!). Wherever you go in Sicily, you’ll find a wealth of sites where you can delve into the rich and varied past of this captivating island.
Sicily has a diverse coastline of fantastic sand and pebble beaches, interspersed with sections of dramatic cliff face and undulating rocky coastline. Even in summer months, it is possible to find quieter beaches in certain areas of the island, with plenty of room to relax. Bustling coastal holiday resorts mix with larger ports, and tiny, tranquil fishing villages. A great selection of both sand and pebble beaches are to be found on the east coast around Catania and Siracusa, whilst there are many popular pebble beaches around the resort of Taormina. Facing across the water to the Aeolian Islands, not far from the port of Messina, you’ll find a number of great sandy beaches. Further along the north coast, the resort of Cefalu also has a wonderful, long sandy beach.
Sicilians are a welcoming and friendly people who are proud of the island’s rich cultural heritage. A huge amount of festivals and events take place throughout the year, where locals and visitors alike can really feel part of the community and soak up some of the Sicilian traditions. Towns and villages large and small each have a patron saint, celebrated in varying different ways each year, with events such as processions and fireworks. Good Friday sees atmospheric masked processions that take place all over Sicily. The island also has a great number of food festivals celebrating the delicious local produce grown in different areas – giving you the opportunity to enjoy some of the typical Sicilian specialities. Outdoor music events are popular during summer months, including the wonderful Greek theatre productions that take place in the Greco-Roman amphitheatre at Siracusa.