Known as the "football" of Italy (thanks to its motherland's boot shape), Sicily is a concentration of incredible dining, history, culture, and landscapes. With the stunning Mt. Etna as its highest peak and the tallest active volcano in Europe, this place has seen a lot! Literally thousands of years of shifting rule have left Sicily filled with varying influences, providing an endless array of tastes, smells, shopping, historic sites, and architecture to explore.
With a strategic place between Africa and Europe, and surrounded by glittering blue seas and islands, it's no wonder so many have wanted to conquer Sicily. Sometimes called "god's kitchen" with its outrageously delicious dining and wine scene, this island is not for those on a diet! Palermo, Catania, and Syracuse are the largest cities, and the areas of Mt. Etna, Mt. Stromboli, and the endless beaches are spectacular places to visit. Most people speak Italian and Sicilian here, but be aware - Sicily is still a bit of a "mut" when it comes to language and tourism, albeit a very beautiful one! Find out for yourself what makes this place so incredibly distinct when you stay in a Sicily vacation rental.
If you're looking for an easy-peasy stroll through a pristine city, Palermo may not be for you, but if you're looking for the vibrant, historic, authentic feeling of Sicily, this is where you want to be! As the capital of Sicily with nearly 2,700 years of history under its belt and enough gastronomy, architecture, and culture to match, Palermo shines as one of Italy's top tourist destinations.
Spend your days wandering the narrow streets beneath brightly painted old buildings, Duomos, waving Sicilians and laundry lines, or head to one of the neighborhood day mercatos for some delicious fresh food and urban activity. The picturesque rolling mountains and blue seaport provide a stunning sight from the top of Monte Pellegrino, and the Fontana Pretoria at the center of Piazza Pretoria is not to be missed.
Mt. Etna and Catania
To the east side of the "football", Mt. Etna and Catania beckon as one of the most unique areas in the world. Sitting in the shadow of the towering Mt. Etna, Catania has been ravaged by several earthquakes and eruptions over the centuries, so much so that its main square - Piazza del Duomo - has buildings made of limestone and lava!
With a smaller population than Palermo of around 300,000, there's still plenty to do and see in Catania without quite the level of bustle. There's tons of shopping and, of course, Sicily's fabulous mixture of food flavors abound. Make sure you meet Liotru, the playful elephant statue in Fontana dell'Elefante, compassionately embraced as the symbol of the city.
Thanks to Mt. Etna, there are many day treks and views to check out - you can even take a guide all the way to the top to smell the sulfur and see the hot magma stewing! The expansive panoramas of Catania and the countryside are worth the hike from any Sicily vacation rentals.
Sicily's West Coast
Off the beaten path a bit from the well-traveled tourist routes, Western Sicily has the similarly stunning combination of sea, coastal towns, and mountains as the rest of the state. With Sicily's varied cultural history in mind, there are tons of ruins and archeological parts to explore, such as the Acropolis and Eastern Temples in Selinunte, and the island of Mozia near Marsala. This area is also covered in fantastic vineyards that, in addition to Sicily's authentic vibe, will leave you buzzed.
Photo credit: Marzolino via Shutterstock
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