Sicily: What Italy’s neighbour has to offer

Italy is a beautiful country and as well as the stunning scenery and historical sites, I think the food is one of the most appealing aspects of the destination! But if you’ve been to the Mediterranean country in the past, you’ll no doubt be looking for something a little different for your holiday in 2013 – and neighbouring Sicily could be the perfect choice.

As the rhyme goes, ‘Long-legged Italy kicked poor Sicily out into the Mediterranean Sea’, and the island sits to the south-west of its neighbour, right next to Italy’s ‘toe’. It is the largest island in the Mediterranean and is an autonomous region of Italy.

Just like Italy, Sicily has a rich and varied culture, especially when it comes to music, literature and the arts. However, it is also home to some stunning archaeological sites and offers visitors something a bit different to a trip to Italy.

 So, read on to discover more about this beautiful island…

Etna

A trip to Sicily wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Etna, the greatest active volcano in Europe. It sits on the eastern coast of the island and it has been responsible for the creation of some of Sicily’s unique landscapes over the years.

As well as the volcano itself, you should check out the surrounding national parks at Madonie, Nebrodi and Pantelleria, all of which are sprinkled with charming oases.

Enjoying the sea

It’d be rude to go to an island like Sicily and not enjoy the beautiful waters that surround it. But that doesn’t just mean relaxing on many of the island’s gorgeous beaches. Of course, this is something you should definitely do if you fancy a day spent soaking up the sun, but there are many other ways to enjoy the sea as well.

For a start, you should try some of the many water sports available on the island, such as windsurfing and kite surfing – San Vito lo Capo, Mondello, Cefalù and Marina di Ragusa are just a few of the places that offer these sports. You can also take your snorkel and dive below the waves to see the fascinating creatures that live on the seabed.

The Belpaese

If you’re looking for a relaxing afternoon, then treat yourself to a trip to the Belpaese, which is one of the most sought-after destinations for thermal cures. There are many natural spas and wellness centres, with the most renowned being Sciacca. Here, the Stufe di San Calogero caves have a high concentration of steam, which reaches temperatures of up to 40 degrees C.

Culture

Just like Italy, Sicily has a fascinating cultural past. You can visit many of the places where legendary writers such as Salvatore Quasimodo, Giovanni Verga and Luigi Pirandello once lived.

There is also still evidence of the impact the Greeks had on Sicily and you can visit the Greek temples of Selinunte and Syracuse, as well as the Greco-Roman theatre of Taormina. You can also see the island’s many stunning Norman cathedrals, such as the Martorana, San Giovanni degli Eremiti and San Cataldo Churches.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things to see and do in Sicily and as you can see, it’s an island that has a lot to offer.

This guest blog was contributed by Jane Foulds a prolific travel blogger who enjoys writing on topics such as London Theatre Breaks.

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