Archaic land of great emotions, Sicily is a huge strongbox of memories and civilisations dripping with “Mediterranean feelings” together with many Norman, Roman and Greek expressions. The island is camaleontic: almost a thousand kilometres of coast looking out onto foaming waves with endless cobalt and aquamarine shades, archipelago and precious islands, jewels such as Eolie, Egadi, Pelagie, Pantelleria and Ustica – dominated by uplands, hills, mountains and a huge plane, the one of Catania and its magnificent volcano, the Etna that stands out against the sky at a height of 3.350 metres.

Sicily, is traditionally lived as a “sea” region also features a green heart, perfect for sports adventures: trekking on the Etna, rafting and canoeing in the Alcantara gorges, with twenty-five meters high walls. Following the literary spirit, you can’t miss a visit to the “literary parks”, an original idea to discover great writers such as Pirandello, Sciascia, Verga, Quasimodo, Tomasi di Lampedusa and Vittorini. A bulwark between Europe and the Mediterranean sea, the island is also a land of castles: about two hundred, built by the Svevians and the Chiramonte and Ventimiglia noble families. And if a number of artistic circuits were matched to the Sicilian capitals, you could start with Messina and its famous works of art by Antonello da Messina, then Palermo with its churches showing off their precious marble inlay and Agrigento, the richest Greek colony while the typical baroque style can be admired in Ragusa Ibla, Modica, Scicli and Palazzolo Acreide led by their star, Noto, a jewel sheltered in an upland.

And then Catania – with its allegoric figures, its statues and monuments rich in decorations; from the centre, in a few minutes, the coast of Cyclops and Lemons stretches along a number of very famous villages such as Aci Trezza and Aci Castello. Not far there is Taormina, with its famous Greek theatre dating back to the IVth century BC., hung between the sea and the sky and one of the most evocative and enchanting in the world. The first Greek settlements in Sicily are located in the Naxos Gardens, a triumph of green colours and the breeze that blows from the Mediterranean Sea. A jewel of the Norman architecture is the cathedral of Messina whose bell tower contains the biggest mechanic-astronomic clock in the world. The cathedral of Palermo, built in 1184 is a casket of many different styles and it is the protagonist together with the Massimo theatre, the third biggest opera theatre in Europe. In the outskirts of Palermo, a visit to the cathedral of Monreale is a must, it is one of the masterpieces of the Italian Middle Ages.

Nowadays Trapani is famous for its salt mines, the medieval Erice is wonderful and Marsala is famous for its echoes of Garibaldi’s expedition of the Thousand – it is the town of the landing of his Thousand Soldiers while Mazara del Vallo fascinates with its statue of the Dancing Satyr, kept in the church of S. Egidio. You can’t miss a visit to Enna, Caltanissetta, Ragusa and the Roman villa of Casale – with its priceless coloured mosaics – and a lot of works of art can be found in Caltagirone too, with its 142-step monumental staircase hand- decorated with different types of ceramics and maiolica.  Agrigento – with its valley of Temples -, Segesta and Selinunte that represent the magnificence of temples in a pure Doric style dating back to the Vth and VIth centuries BC.

Luciana Francesca Rebonato

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