More of a sugar-spiked espresso than a milky cappuccino, Sicily will reward you with an intense bittersweet experience rather than anything lightweight and frothy. In Sicily it seems as though the sun shines brighter, the shadows are darker, and life is lived full on and for the moment. Overloaded with art treasures, undersupplied with infrastructure and continuously struggling to thwart Mafia-driven corruption, Sicily possesses some baffling social topography. Brace yourself to reconcile baroque architectural beauty in Catania with modern squalor in Palermo, artistic excellence with moral ambivalence and the rational with the sensual. This is an island to be visited with an open mind – and a healthy appetite; one factor remains a constant, and that is the uncompromisingly high quality of the cuisine.
After some 25 centuries of foreign domination, Sicilians are heir to an impressive cultural legacy, from the refined architecture of Magna Graecia to a beguiling, if contradictory, artistic fusion of Arab craftsmanship and Norman austerity. This complexity of culture is matched by a startling diversity of landscape that includes the smouldering Mt Etna, an aquamarine coastline with a tiara of Aeolian Islands and Parco Naturale Regionale Delle Madonie.
Today, Sicily’s new generation is loathe to remain trapped in the past. New ventures are seeing aristocratic entrepreneurs prising open the doors of some of Europe’s finest palazzi and villas, while sensitive agriturismi (farm stay accommodations) are shedding light on Sicily’s hidden rural treasures and national parks. Sicily also has a refreshing lack of neon-blazing entertainment and theme parks, which further helps preserve its individuality and appeal.
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Best places to stay in Sicily
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 destination guides
Palermo is a city of decay and of splendour and, provided you can handle its raw energy, deranged driving and chaos, has plenty of appeal.
Right by the beach: great places to stay on the world's loveliest islands
Don’t waste precious travel time dragging your flip-flopped feet to the beach. We’ve rounded up ten places to stay on some of the world’s most beautiful islands – and they’re all a stone’s throw from the beach.
Palermo Shore Excursion: Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus Tour
While in port in Palermo, spend your time enjoying the perfect do-it-yourself shore excursion in this beautiful city. Head into the city to see all of Palermo’s top attractions on a convenient hop-on hop-off bus tour! Admire the Politeama Theatre, overlooking Politeama Square, and drive by the Massimo Theatre, one of the biggest and most famous opera houses in Italy.
Palermo City Hop-on Hop-off Tour
With a Hop-on Hop-off tour of Palermo, you will enjoy an exciting visit to the city. Starting from the terminal outside the Politeama Theatre, overlooking the square of the same name, you will drive in front of the Massimo Theatre one of the most capacious and famous opera house in Italy.
7 great reasons to see Europe before the summer
Pining to explore Europe but intending to wait for the sun? Think again: the crowds might arrive in spring and reach full swell midsummer, but European travel in the cooler months is superb timing for off-season prices and local flavour. 1.