Sicily, Italy Travel Guide : Food, hotel, Cost, Weather & geography, History, language, culture, things to see and do and how to reach

You can find about travel advice such as public places & services, best restaurants, activities, sightseen and other key facts of the Sicily, Italy .

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the 20 regions of Italy. It is one of the five Italian autonomous regions and is officially referred to as Regione Siciliana. The region has 5 million inhabitants. Its capital city is Palermo.Sicily is in the central Mediterranean Sea, south of the Italian Peninsula, from which it is separated by the narrow Strait of Messina. Its most prominent landmark is Mount Etna, one of the tallest active volcanoes in Europe, and one of the most active in the world, currently 3,329 m (10,922 ft) high. The island has a typical Mediterranean climate. The earliest archaeological evidence of human activity on the island dates from as early as 12,000 BC. By around 750 BC, Sicily had three Phoenician and a dozen Greek colonies and it was later the site of the Sicilian Wars and the Punic Wars. After the end of the Roman province of Sicilia with the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, Sicily was ruled during the Early Middle Ages by the Vandals, the Ostrogoths, the Byzantine Empire, and the Emirate of Sicily. The Norman conquest of southern Italy led to the creation of the County of Sicily in 1071, that was succeeded by Kingdom of Sicily, a state that existed from 1130 until 1816. Later, it was unified under the House of Bourbon with the Kingdom of Naples as the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The island became part of Italy in 1860 following the Expedition of the Thousand, a revolt led by Giuseppe Garibaldi during the Italian unification, and a plebiscite. Sicily was given special status as an autonomous region on 15 May 1946, 18 days before the Italian institutional referendum of 1946. Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature, cuisine, and architecture. It is also home to important archaeological and ancient sites, such as the Necropolis of Pantalica, the Valley of the Temples, Erice and Selinunte. Byzantine, Arab, Roman and Norman rule over Sicily has led to a blend of cultural influences.

Foods in Sicily, Italy :

(1) Arancine (or arancini) :

It wouldn’t feel right to begin this list with anything other than perhaps Sicily’s most iconic food – arancine (or arancini in Catania – the spelling is a huge point of contention between the two cities!). Arancine are balls of creamy risotto, deep fried in breadcrumbs and filled with whatever your heart desires. Popular fillings include meat ragu, spinach and mozzarella, prosciutto and mozzarella, pistachio cream, butter and speck.Typically eaten as a hearty snack on the go, arancine can be found absolutely everywhere in Sicily and are wonderfully stodgy, flavoursome and great if you’re on a budget, with a typical arancina costing less than €2.

(2) Pasta alla Norma :

Created originally in Catania, pasta alla norma is one of the simplest yet most delicious Sicilian foods and very very popular. Best made with a tubular pasta such as penne or rigatoni, pasta alla norma is made by frying thinly sliced eggplant in extra virgin olive oil before tossing them into a fresh tomato sauce (with hints of garlic and chilli), and sprinkling a generous smattering of ricotta salata cheese on top (saltier and with a firmer texture than classic ricotta).

(3) Caponata :

One of the most quintessential Sicilian foods, caponata is an eggplant-based stew comprised of chopped eggplants and seasoned with sweet balsamic vinegar, capers, pine nuts and raisins, creating a delicate flavour that has to be tasted to be believed. It is served at room temperature and typically as a side dish (or as part of an antipasto platter), and regional variants include olives, celery, bell peppers, potatoes and carrots.

(4) Pane con la Milza (or Pane ca Meusa in the Sicilian language) :

Not for the faint-hearted (or the weak of stomach!) pane con la milza is a classic Sicilian street food that you will find in Palermo. It consists of chopped veal lung, trachea and spleen that have been boiled before being fried in lard and seasoned with a squirt of lemon juice. This is then added to a sesame seeded bun, and sometimes grated ricotta is added.It may sound a bit icky, but really pane con la milza is no different to haggis, liver and onions or steak and kidney pie! Pane con la milza has quite a strong flavour and is very greasy, making it the perfect hangover food, and the best pane con la milza is always made by street vendors, such as those in the Ballaro market or Rocky Basille at La Vucciria market.

(5) Granita :

Although granita can now be found all over Italy, the birthplace of this refreshing summer dessert is actually Sicily! Granita is simply shaved ice with sugar and fruit flavouring, and it is essentially a sorbet, but with a slightly coarser texture, perfect for a light refreshment on a hot summer’s day – my favourite is the lemon version.In the summertime, many Italians will order a coffee flavoured granita for breakfast with a brioche, and dip their brioche into the granita – yum!

 Weather & geography in Sicily, Italy :

The island's climate is Mediterranean, with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers during which average August temperatures reach around 29°C. Its long warm summer and diverse landscapes make it an ideal destination for tourists from early Spring until late Autumn.Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean, covering an area of just under 26,000km², with its highest point at Mount Etna (3,320m). It is also the biggest of Italy’s twenty regions, having gained autonomy in 1946 when Italy became a republic. Agriculture, industry and tourism each play a major role in Sicily’s economy.Geographically, it is essentially triangular shaped, separated from the mainland by the Strait of Messina. The island’s climate is Mediterranean, with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers during which average August temperatures reach around 29°C. Its long warm summer and diverse landscapes make it an ideal destination for tourists from early Spring until late Autumn.

Per day Cost in Sicily, Italy :

How much money will you need for your trip to Sicily? You should plan to spend around €81 ($96) per day on your vacation in Sicily, which is the average daily price based on the expenses of other visitors. Past travelers have spent, on average, €26 ($31) on meals for one day and €10 ($12) on local transportation.

History of Sicily, Italy :
Sicily was inhabited 10,000 years ago. Its strategic location at the centre of the Mediterranean has made the island a crossroads of history, a pawn of conquest and empire, and a melting pot for a dozen or more ethnic groups whose warriors or merchants sought its shores. At the coming of the Greeks, three peoples occupied Sicily: in the east the Siculi, or Sicels, who gave their name to the island but were reputed to be latecomers from Italy; to the west of the Gelas River, the Sicani; and in the extreme west the Elymians, a people to whom a Trojan origin was assigned, with their chief centres at Segesta and at Eryx (Erice). The Siculi spoke an Indo-European language; there are no remains of the languages of the other peoples. There were also Phoenician settlements on the island. The Greeks settled Sicilian towns between the 8th and 6th centuries BCE. The mountainous centre remained in the hands of Siculi and Sicani, who were increasingly Hellenized in ideas and material culture.

In the 3rd century BCE the island became the first Roman province. The Byzantine general Belisarius occupied Sicily in 535 CE, at the start of hostilities with the Ostrogoths in Italy, and after a short time Sicily came under Byzantine rule. In 965 the island fell to Arab conquest from North Africa, in 1060 to Normans, who progressively Latinized the island. In the 12th and 13th centuries the island formed a part of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (or Naples), and in the 18th century Sicily was ruled by the Bourbons. During the 19th century the island was a major centre of revolutionary movements: in 1860, as a result of Giuseppe Garibaldi’s revolt, it was liberated from the Bourbons and in the following year was incorporated into the united kingdom of Italy. In 1947 Sicily gained regional autonomy.

Language in Sicily, Italy  :

Sicilian is a Romance language that is spoken on the island of Sicily and its satellite islands.

Culture of  Sicily, Italy :
The culture and traditions of Sicily are as colorful as its history. From the early tribes to ancient races of Greeks, Romans, and the many nations that occupied the island and left their mark here. The once vast colony became a domain to various foreign invaders before it united Italy. With magnificent landscapes, breathtaking coastlines, and diverse practices, almost everything about Sicily is so enchanting.

Arts and architectures are the results of Sicily’s rich and colorful history. The primaeval tribe of the Sicani introduced terracotta ceramics in Sicily thousands of years ago. Ceramics art and production is still surviving in the region. A Sicilian house is not a Sicilian home without ceramic plates, bowls, vases or statues to represent their Sicilian identity. Sicily also boasts remarkable Greek and Roman ruins. Together with Baroque buildings and Arab-Norman-Byzantine monuments commissioned by the island’s previous masters.

Shadowed by its more than two millennia of existence, the literature of Sicily owed its roots from heroic stories. The legends told in the early days of the Greeks. The Greek doctrines reached the Mediterranean region of Magna Graecia with myths about the gods and goddesses. They were believed to be the protectors of the land, temples and sanctuaries were built to worship them. From the familial relationship of agriculture deities, Demeter and her daughter Persephone. And then, the latter’s tragic fate with Hades, the god of the underworld. There were also Homer’s accounts of Odysseus against the one-eyed Cyclops Polyphemus. We should not forget Hercules and his adventures to Sicily. The influence of Greek classical philosophies in Sicily had also extended to the Rome capital.

The Romans took inspiration from their Greek counterparts in Athens or the nearer neighbours in Sicily which they subsequently conquered. Empedocles of Akragas and Corax of Syracuse were some of the most admired rhetoricians in Sicilia. Roman orators and poets used their talent to raise ideas, persuade people and made an impact on society. The known Roman politician Cicero once lived in Sicily as a government official. Together with the support of the locals, he had voiced out their dissatisfaction against the then corrupt magistrate Gaius Verres. It was through a war of words in the court of Rome. The Roman era in Sicily was portrayed with poems, songs and proses. They were recited and circulated to both express joys and sorrows from conclaves to public gatherings. Widely spoken in Latin which later transformed into the romance language we call Sicilianu during the late Norman period.

Place to visit in Sicily, Italy :
(1) Taormina

(2) Syracuse and Ortigia Island

(3) Lampedusa and Rabbit Beach - Pelagie Islands

(4)  Val di Noto

(5) Aeolian Islands

(6) Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples

(7)  Mount Etna

Hotel in Sicily, Italy :
(1) Hotel Le Calette

(2) Grand Palladium Sicilia Resort & Spa

(3) Falconara Resort

(4) Hotel Villa Athena

How to reach in Sicily, Italy :

There are numerous ways to reach Sicily by rail. You can take the Eurostar train from any city in Italy to either Rome or Naples and from there onwards take an intercity express train that will take you to Sicily in about 8 and 6 hours respectively.Fly to Sicily by arriving either at Catania Airport (CTA) or Palermo Airport (PMO). Which airport to use depends both on the convenience of the flight and of the destination airport, because Palermo is in eastern Sicily and Catania is in the western part of the island.

Travel Guide for Sicily, Italy : Food, hotel, Cost, Weather & geography, History, language, culture, things to see and do and how to reach. – Published by The Beyond News (Travelling).