Sicily is a fascinating place to visit in Europe. Located at the southernmost tip of Italy, it's the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Although considered a part of Italy, Sicily, along with a cluster of islands around it, are autonomous, have their own dialect, distinct food, and a unique vibe compared to the mainland.
Due to its breathtakingly spectacular location and historical importance, Regione Siciliana is home to several excursions that attract tourists from around the world. Not a place to disappoint their guests, the variety of things to do in Sicily is equally diverse and appeals to people of all different tastes and ages.
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6 Exciting Activities and Things to Do On Italy’s Island of Sicily
Go Volcano Climbing
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With three active volcanos in Sicily, travelers to this beautiful part of the world are in for a remarkably exclusive vacation. Mt Etna, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is by far the most impressive. Situated in the east of the island, the stratovolcano is an intriguing sight, enticing adventure enthusiasts to venture close and witness its majestic beauty.
It's possible to reach the crater of Mt Etna via guided hiking or car trips, with the possibility of taking a cable car as well. Etna Park around the volcano is a favorite skiing destination during the winter months and offers some amazingly scenic trails for hikers throughout the year.
Another volcanic day-trip possible in the region is to Stromboli. This tiny piece of land in the Aeolian Islands is home to Mount Stromboli. Regular boat tours leave Sicily, allowing travelers to enjoy the island’s black sand beaches and its imposing topography. Until recently, it was possible to climb up to the summit of the volcano, but due to frequent eruptions, visitors can only go up to 950 feet. Still, watching the lava flow out in the gentle glow of the evening light is one memorable sight no one forgets for the rest of their lives.
Indulge in the local Food and Wine
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Sicily’s culinary delights are the finest evidence of its diverse heritage. The island has been heavily influenced by Roman, Greek, Spanish, and Viking cultures that reflect in some of its monuments, but more so in the food that continues to delight gourmands with its ingredients and mouth-watering flavours.
Seafood, fresh out of the water, and regionally grown fruits and vegetables take precedence over meat in Sicilian cooking. The pasta here ranges from ones with aubergine and ricotta to the Arab inspired pasta con le sarde, which has sardines, pine nuts, and saffron as its components. Available in most seaside restaurants, food lovers ought to try other local specialties such as caponata, a stew made with aubergines, cannoli, and granita, the perfect refresher on hot Mediterranean days.
Further adding to the culinary adventures of Sicily are the local wines. Starring reds made with a combination of unique grapes, and some of the best sweet wines in the region, Sicilian wine not only complements the local food but is worth relishing on its own. Tourists who want to discover this side of the island can visit Arianna Occhipinti, Tenuta Regaleali, or Frank Cornelissen, three of Sicily’s most well-known wineries.
Attend the Carnevale di Acireale
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Considered among the most vibrant and energetic festivals in the world, Carnivale di Acireale attracts thousands of tourists and Italians every year in February for a two-week extravaganza. As expected, this is a busy time in the calendar of the island, and you will have to book a hotel well in advance if you want to indulge in the colorful revelry of this celebration.
What makes the carnival special is that it consists of almost daily parades featuring large and small floats, with lights and movable pieces, made of flowers or paper-mâché. The evening processions are particularly known for their “grotesque floats” that often-mock celebrities and political figures of the world. Adding to the displays is a whole lot of merriment brought about by musical performances, dancing, and plates full of traditional festival eats that makes visiting Sicily during this time all the more enticing and entertaining.
Spend a Day at the Beach
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Sicily’s spectacular beaches are the primary reason for its positive reputation with tourists. Unlike some of the other Mediterranean seaside spots, the diversity in the type of beaches here is truly phenomenal. Lascari is a small village about an hour away from Palmero that hardly sees any tourist traffic.
If you are looking to step away from the crowds, maybe even indulge in the naturalist lifestyle, stop by the family-friendly Gorgolungo, or the more secluded Piletto beaches. For something a bit more dramatic, visit Scala dei Turchi. The white limestone rock with naturally formed steps, by the water, near Agrigento, has an out-of-the-world appearance, whereas the sandy beach next to it is ideal for bathing under the sun.
In case you want an adventurous escape, hire a motorboat and go beach hopping around the Aeolian Islands. While the beaches on these small islands around Sicily are typically rocky, each one has unique features that make them real hidden gems worth exploring.
Visit Stunning Movie Locations
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Sicily’s mix of rugged and beachy landscapes makes it a hot favorite as a movie location, both for Hollywood films as well as Italian ones. Amongst the classics that have been filmed in Sicily, The Godfather tops the list. Taormina, Savoca, and Forza d’Argo are three towns where you can still come across recognizable places from this iconic film. A slightly newer movie to use Sicily as a backdrop was Ocean’s 12, the stars made the news when they were seen mingling with the infamous local mafia.
For specific locations, such as that of The Godfather or the Italian detective series Montalbano, you can take one of the many organized film tours available on the island. It’s easy for film enthusiasts to visit the towns on their own however.
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Lastly, one of the most important and influential Italian films, Cinema Paradiso, takes place in Bagheria, a small town right outside Palermo. With a number of beautiful scenic spots in and around the town, the short trip to Bagheria from the capital of Sicily is highly recommended.
It's possible to take a short two-day trip to visit Sicily during an Italian vacation. However, to truly appreciate everything this stunning island has to offer, it’s worth taking a separate holiday in Sicily, one that allows you to approach its many wonders at a slow, leisurely pace. A necessary thing to remember, when vacationing in Sicily, is that the locals consider themselves to be Sicilians, and some might take offense if you refer to them as Italians.