Sicily trip planner

Planning a trip to Sicily: The island at the center of the world

Why Sicily?

The largest island in the Mediterranean is a land of superlatives. Where else can you find the world's...

  • Best-preserved Greek temple (at Agrigento)
  • Largest Greek theater (at Siracusa)
  • Most extensive Roman mosaics (at Piazza Armerina)
  • Most active volcano (Stromboli)
  • Trendiest Italian resort for the original jet-set (Taormina)
  • Most infamous criminal organization (the Mafia)
  • Original ice cream (snows from Mt. Etna flavored with lemon juice or almond milk)
  • Arguably best-known Greek myth (Rape of Persephone, near Enna)
  • Least-known—but easily accessbile—prehistoric cave paintings (on the tiny island of Levanzo)
  • Most chaotic captial in Italy, full of glittering mosaics, Arab-influenced churches, and vibrant street maarkets (Palermo)

Sicily is a triangle of tangled, rich history at the tip of Italy's boot, the largest island in the Mediterranean and only nominally considered part of Italy at all.

It's a lush landscape of fertile valleys and imposing mountains, genteel resort towns and fantastic ancient ruins, glittering medieval mosaics and baroque cathedrals.

Sicily is an endless spectacle of pagan festivals, puppet shows, seafaring lore, colorful folklore, intense food and wine, Mafia corruption, welcoming people, rumbling volcanoes, and a richly layered culture born from 2,500 years of ever-changing rule by Greek city-states, Saracen Emirs, Norman kings, Spanish viceroys, and Italian nationalists (the latter only since 1860).

Sicily's culture is one of the most enigmatic and difficult to fathom in Italy—Sicilian dialect is so far from common Italian that some consider it a distinct language—but this only serves to make the region one of the most fun to explore, and it secrets the most rewarding to discover.

Best of all, everything from decent hotel rooms to memorable meals comes at one-third the price of Rome or Venice.

No trip to Italy is complete without a visit to this island that sums up the best and the worst of Italy amid citrus groves, almond trees, and the hot Mediterranean sun.

Top Sicily sections 

The Secret Hotels of Sicily - Nine of my favorite hotels in Sicily, from the capital of Palermo to the city of Siracusa and from Taormina resorts to country villas... » more

Palermo - Sicily's capital city mixes Arab-Norman churches with gently decaying baroque palaces, bustling street markets with rococo interiors. It's a chaotic, tumble-down, slightly seedy mess of a city, full of life and amazing sights (though perhaps not everyone's favorite place to visit)... » more

Northeast Sicily - From the world-famous resort town of Taormina to the secret escape of Cefalù to the fires of Mt. Etna menacing Catania... » more

Southeast Sicily - My favorite corner of the island, from the baroque stage set of Noto to the half-abandoned medieval Ragusa, and especially Siracusa, a city with ancient Greek sights, one of the best archaeology museums in Italy, and a lovely ancient city center... » more

Western Sicily - Ancient Greek ruins litter Western Sicily—from the world's best preserved 5th century BC temples at Agrigento to the gorgeously sited Greek theater of Segesta to the seaside ruins of Selinute. Then there are the beautiful hilltown of Erice, the mosaicked cathedral of Monreale, and the sweet wines of Marsala... » more

Sicilian Islands - From the erupting volcano of Stromboli to the posh resort of Panarea to the secret escape of Pantelleria with its caper fields and Arab vibe... » more

Central Sicily - The hinterlands of the Sicilian interior entice with the ceramics capital of Caltagirone and the mosaics of an ancient Roman hunting lodge at Piazza Armerina near Enna... » more

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