Winter get-aways: travel to Sicily
Located off the toe of the boot of Italy, Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Separated from the Italian peninsula by the strait of Messina, Sicily has an area of 9,926 square miles and is home to a population of approximately five million. Sicily became part of Italy in 1860 and then an autonomous region in 1946. A favorite travel destination for tourists across the globe, Sicily is one of the most beautiful and historic places in the world.
Often referred to as the place where the mountains greet the sea, Sicily is breathtakingly beautiful. White sand covers its beaches and stunning mountains line the horizon. Orchards ripe with lemons and oranges line its coasts and thick, lush forests fill the northeast corner. Rolling hills and plains, complete with pastoral scenes, fill the interior along with fabulous vineyards, ancient olive groves and wide wheat fields.
As if the view is not enough to convince you to travel to Sicily, the food may cinch the deal. The natives refer to Sicily as God's Kitchen because of its world-famous and diverse cuisine. The influence of many has salted the food of Sicily: the Greeks are said to have introduced wine to the region; the Romans brought dishes made with goose; the Byzantines brought sweet and sour flavors; and later the Arabs brought sugar, citrus, saffron, rice and peppers – all of which are still used in Sicilian recipes.
Things to do
Lounge on a beautiful beach such as Mondello Lido or the resort of Mortelle. Visit a museum. Take a wine tour, visit an almond orchard or olive grove. Take a tour to see some of the oldest castles and churches in the world. Visit the summit of Mount Etna or walk through a park or one of the island's nature reserves. Shop in quaint villages and have lunch in an outdoor café where natives of Sicily love to tell stories of their beautiful country. Travel to the carnival in Sciacca.
Visit some of the famous landmarks left by the many inhabitants of Sicily: the Phoenicians built Palermo; the Greeks left temples at Agrigento; the Romans left behind the villa at Piazza Armeria; the Normans built cathedrals; the Swabians built castles, while the Spanish built palazzi. There are endless things to do and see when traveling in Sicily.
Where to Stay
There are many hotels, villas and apartments to stay in when you travel to Sicily. Terrasini 2000 is a newly renovated accommodation where families can rent two, three and even five bedroom apartments in an 18th century building. The one-hundred-year-old home boasts high ceilings and marble and granite floors and is located in the center of historical Terrasini. Terrasini is home to many fine inns and hotels including Citta del Mare Hotel and Resort.
Villa al Mare is situated in the area of Trappeto, 50 kilometers from the capital city of Palermo in the middle of a lush garden overlooking the Gulf of Castellammare. It has a private beach where guests can swim or snorkel in the Mediterranean.
In addition to inns and hotels, there are many private homes and villas that tourists can rent in Sicily, including many five star inns such as the Grand Hotel Atlantis Bay in Mazzaro and the Grand Hotel Excelsior in Catania.
If you decide to travel to Sicily, do your homework to ensure that you see and do all that this beautiful island has to offer. The trip to Sicily will be one of a lifetime. Have fun, and don't forget your passport.