Holidays to sun-baked Sicily
You can’t beat a holiday in Sicily for pure and simple pleasures. This is where communities congregate in cobbled piazzas long into the evening while young couples stroll arm in arm to the rhythm of ‘That’s Amore’.
It’s like a little slice of Italy that’s been frozen in time with a hodgepodge of houses, lemon groves and ancient architecture creating sun-scorched citadels sitting side-by-side by the azure swells of the Mediterranean Sea. Coastal towns, such as Cefalu and Taormina, boast peaceful pebbled beaches while the city of Syracuse – on the Ionian coast - sings to the soul of cultural travellers from its Greco-Roman amphitheatre.
Elsewhere you’ll discover beautiful Baroque cathedrals and fantastical facades in Noto as well as Europe’s second largest opera house in the capital, Palermo. Of course, the ‘elefante nella stanza’, Mount Etna, also deserves a mention, if only for the drama. Take a trip to the east coast city of Catania and you’ll find yourself sitting in the best seat in the house.
Situated in the southeast of Sicily, the town of Noto was destroyed by an earthquake in 1693 only to be rebuilt and reborn in beautiful Baroque style. A walking tour will take you around the 18th century architecture where the Palazzo Ducezio and Noto Cathedral exhibit some fine examples of ornate gilding and intricate stuccos with the heads of lions, cherubs and sirens staring down from on high. The wrought iron balconies adorning the Palazzo Nicolaci feature some particularly gruesome characters – you have been warned!
If you’re looking to sample a slice of local life in Sicily, you’ll find Palermo, the capital, well worth adding to your list of things to do. This is where open-air markets, such as Capo, Borgo and Ballaro, align the city streets to provide an all-day grazing menu full of Sicilian treats. Elsewhere, Palermo Cathedral provides another prominent highlight both inside and out, as well as panoramic views across the city from the roof terrace. And there’s nothing like a night at the Teatro Massimo to round off a day in the Sicilian capital, in style.
Standing on Sicily’s Ionian coastline, the city of Syracuse has long been associated with the ancient treasures of the Greco-Roman era. Head across the Ponte Umbertino to the historical heart of Ortigia and you’ll discover the most important highlights housed within the Neapolis Archaeological Park. The Roman amphitheatre is especially impressive and certainly so when visited in the springtime when it becomes alive once more to classical performances attended by culture loving Sicilians.
The flight time from the UK to Sicily usually takes around 3 hours.
Currently, British citizens holidaying in Sicily only require an up-to-date passport unless they’re staying longer than 30 days. Visit GOV.UK for more advice about entry requirements to Italy or, alternatively, visit CIBT visas for more information.
Summers in Sicily last from May to October and can be very hot and dry. There’s also every chance of an electrical storm, especially in the more humid months of July and August. Autumn and springtime see much milder temperatures as well as far fewer crowds – perfect for hiking and visiting the island’s archaeological parks.
Sicily is just an hour ahead of the UK.
Sicilian is the official language of the island, although knowledge of Italian is more than enough to get by. English is spoken by most hoteliers, restaurateurs and staff in popular tourist resorts.
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