Seductively beautiful and perfectly placed in the heart of the Mediterranean, Sicily has been luring passersby since the time of legends. The land of Scylla, Charybdis and the Cyclops has been praised by poets from Homer to Virgil and prized by the many ancient cultures – Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans and Greeks – whose bones lie buried here. Whether in the classical perfection of Agrigento's Concordia temple, the monumental rubble of Selinunte's columns or the rare grace of a dancing satyr statue rescued from Mazara del Vallo's watery depths, reminders of bygone civilisations are everywhere.
A crazy layer-cake of culinary influences, Sicily's ancient cuisine continues to rely on a few key island-grown ingredients: shellfish and citrus, tuna and swordfish, pistachios, hazelnuts and almonds, ricotta and wild herbs. Traditional ties to the land run deep here. Talk to the septuagenarian chef at a Catania restaurant and she'll not only confide that she still uses her grandmother's recipe for pasta alla norma, but will also share the poetic imagery that links it to Mt Etna: the tomatoes are lava, the aubergines cinders, the basil leafy greenery, the ricotta snow. Modern chefs may play with the details, but Sicily's timeless recipes – from the simplest cannolo to the most exquisitely spiced fish couscous – live on.
Sparkling Seas, Restless Mountains
Sicily's varied landscape makes a dramatic first impression. Fly into Catania and the smoking hulk of Etna greets you; arrive in Palermo and it'll be the sparkling mountain-fringed Golfo di Castellammare. This juxtaposition of sea, volcano and mountain scenery makes a stunning backdrop for outdoors activities. Sicily and its dozen-plus offshore islands offer enough swimming, diving, hiking and climbing to build an entire vacation around.
Byzantine to Baroque
As if its classical heritage weren't formidable enough, Sicily is bursting at the seams with later artistic and architectural gems. In a short walk around Palermo you'll see Arab domes and arches, Byzantine mosaics, baroque stuccowork and Norman palace walls. This embarrassment of artistic riches remains one of the island's most distinctive attractions.
Best places to stay in Sicily
Berlin city guide
Berlin is scene-stealing combo of glamour and grit that will fascinate anyone in love with history and culture, art and architecture, restaurants and nightlife.
Opening up the secrets of southeastern Sicily
Packed with Unesco World Heritage sites, sandy Mediterranean beaches, and hills striped with dry stone walls and dotted with carob, almond and olive trees, the southeastern corner of Sicily has a character all of its own...
Sicily - Plan your trip (Chapter)
Your journey to Sicily starts here. You’ll find the tools to plan your adventure: where to go and when, how much to budget, plus in-depth info on outdoor activities.
Smokin'! Sicily's volcanic hotspots
Hot, dry, wracked by earthquake and eruption, Sicily marks the point where Europe is no longer entirely Europe...
Sicily - Central Sicily (Chapter)
Sicily’s wild and empty interior is a beautiful, uncompromising land of silent, sunburnt peaks, grey stone villages and forgotten valleys. It’s an area that encourages the simple pleasures – long lunches of earthy country food, meandering...
Volcanoes of Sicily - Guided
Trek the impressive volcanoes of Etna and Stromboli, relax on beaches and discover the Sicilian 'dolce vita'
Explore Sicily's ancient sites and lively culture by bike
Exploring the mysteries of Sicily
Sicily, the Mediterranean’s largest island, has a culture entirely of its own and harbours a sinister history. Lift the lid on Italy’s volcanic island with Lonely Planet Magazine’s guide. Diverse Sicily: Palermo Sicily’s indefinable qualities are apparent in the island’s food...
Sicily - Mediterranean Coast (Chapter)
Sicily’s Mediterranean coast is a mixed bag. The spectacular ruins of the Valley of the Temples are overlooked by ranks of unsightly tower blocks, giving the city of Agrigento an odd air. West of Agrigento, the development soon peters out and...