Sicily is the biggest Italian Island, it means that the options on what to visit can be nearly endless. It is an ancient land boasting a number of curious archaeological sites, popular beaches, several archipelagos and islets. All perfect places to discover during a fabulous charter yacht holiday. Furthermore, Sicily offers an all-year-round appeal, thanks to a perfect mix of mild climate, history, delicious mediterranean cuisine, vibrant nightlife and a warm atmosphere. Here is a good source of travel ideas if you are planning a vacation in Sicily!
Messina lies on the western coast of the Straits of the same name, “Stretto di Messina“, and looks onto them with the scythe-shaped peninsula of San Ranieri, which forms a large natural harbour.
Following the bombing raids of World War II, a large part of the city was rebuilt; this is why the city is presenting a modern look, with long wide streets and a grid plan.
The dominant architectural style is Art Nouveau and the overall impression it gives is that of an airy modern city, whose spirit is best appreciated by taking long walks along its avenues. The city’s Byzantine Cathedral is a great example of successful restoration of original buildings, producing excellent results.
Even if it is a small town on the east coast of Sicily, Taormina is one of the most visited touristic places in all of Italy. Born on a hill about 250 m above the sea, Taormina is about midway between Messina and Catania, a good base for daily excursions if you like to discover the eastern coasts of Sicily. Taormina’s history dates back to the 4th century and its beauty is mainly done by the presence of important and historical monuments and beauties as the Greek Theatre, stage of many concerts and cultural activities. Among the best things to visit in and around Taormina, a special mention must be dedicated to Giardini Naxos, Isola Bella and Mazzarò.
Etna rises in the beautiful Sicily, not far from the Strait of Messina: Etna si the largest active volcano in Europe and one of the highest in the world. Etna became part of the UNESCO World Heritage List in June 2013. Etna is a natural scientific laboratory on earth volcanic areas and its intense activity is observed and told since the Greek and Romans times. In fact, it has been written for about 2,700 years and this represents UNESCO as “one of the most well-documented world records in the field of volcanoes”.
Overlooking the sea, situated at the foot of the impressive Mount Etna, there is the beautiful city of Catania. The city was founded by the Greeks in 729 BC and has a rich history in terms of cultural and architectural heritage. Almost entirely rebuilt in the 18th century, after that the earthquake destroyed it in 1693, today looks beautiful in its Sicilian Baroque style. Places of interest include the Odeon, situated in the historic center, next to the Roman Theater, the Roman Amphitheater, the Ursino Castle, the elephant fountain.
Siracusa is a stunning town on the south-east corner of Sicily island. It can be split into two different areas: Ortigia island, which is linked to the mainland by a short footbridge, and Siracusa main town. It was the most important Greek city for a long period and you can enjoy is ancient past visiting its archaeological area full of monuments, including temples, a theatre, an amphitheater and a necropolis. Ortigia, also known as Città Vecchia of Siracusa (Old City), is a pleasant place for strolling, and much of the island’s charm lies in wandering down narrow medieval lanes.
The Greek Corinthians, who settled in this area around 734 BC, transformed the small island of Ortygia into the nucleus of this rapidly growing Mediterranean city. For a period of time, Siracusa was the most powerful and prosperous Greek city in the whole Mediterranean Sea.
In 2005, Siracusa and Ortygia were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a distinction that is certainly deserved.
Avola is a little town famous worldwide for its wine and almonds.
The Nero d’Avola, a typical red wine of Sicily, is named after the city of Avola, where the first grafting of the vine was made, but its grapes may grow and the wine be produced in other regions of the Sicily island too.
The denomination Avola’s Almond includes three different types of almond: Pizzuta, Fascionello and Romana or Corrente d’Avola. These three kinds of almond come from Avola’s area. Blooming in winter, these almonds can only grow either in sea areas or on litte hills, where frost rarely happens. Since Avola belongs to one of the sunniest towns in Sicily, this makes it one of the main production areas for almond.
Caltagirone, Militello Val di Catania, Catania, Modica, Noto, Palazzolo, Ragusa and Scicli are the eight towns in south-eastern Sicily that make up the fascinating Val di Noto. Since 2002 it has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site because it represents a “considerable collective undertaking, successfully carried out at a high level of architectural and artistic achievement”. Generally listed as one of the ‘must-see‘ tourist attractions of this part of Sicily, Val di Noto is characterised by little, but absolutely gorgeous little villages and towns
Along with Noto, Modica is the most beautiful Baroque gem of the Val di Noto: adorned churches, bell towers and palaces shape an incredible rocky landscape, dramatically nestled in a valley. More than Baroque style: as the whole Sicily, Modica shows the remains of a intricate history.
Few km away from the city, there is one of the most appreciated stretch of the Sicilian Coasts with the popular Marina di Modica and Marina di Ragusa, the attractive Santa Maria del Focallo and Sampieri.
Modica is also custodian of a 400 year tradition of Sicilian chocolate-making. Being part of the Spanish kingdom for so many years meant that Sicily was often one of the first recipients of the new foodstuffs being brought back from South America. Cacao was one of these and today Modica still specialises in making granulous chocolate, often flavoured with chilli pepper, cinnamon or vanilla, that is based on Aztec methods and recipes. Chocolate shops abound and, for the real chocoholic, it is sometimes possible to watch the “chocolatiers” at work.
Best known as the city of temples, Agrigento is placed on the southern coast of Sicily. Located just south of the “modern city” and nestled among olive trees on a ridge near the sea, there are some of the best-preserved ancient Greek temples in the world. The Valley of the Temples is a magnificent collection of seven temples from the 6th and 5th centuries BC. Agrigento boasts not only ancient and fascinating ruins, but also Baroque architecture, as well as sparkling beaches and crystal-clear waters.
Located in the Mediterranean Sea between Malta and Tunisia, Lampedusa is the largest of the Pelagie Islands. Palagie Archipelago includes also Pantelleria, Linosa and Lampione islets. In the southern part of Lampedusa island, situated in a natural park, you can find the Spiaggia dei Conigli (Rabbit Beach) that in 2013, was voted the world’s best beach by travel site TripAdvisor. It is characterised by fine white sand, crystal-clear waters and a shallow seabed. In front of the beach there is the homonymous island, which unfortunately cannot be visited: its access is monitored 24/7 in order to protect the turtles that lay their eggs on the beach.
Pantelleria is situated 110 km from Sicily and 70 from Tunisia. The island looks almost like a lunar landscape: with volcanic origin, its territory is dark in color with some areas covered in green but alternated by barren black hills and lava flows. There are also beautiful caves along the coast and their inside is populated by natural pools of water at different temperatures, as if you were immersed in a sauna. Don’t miss the Lago di Venere, a basin of calderic origin, which is worth a look!
It is an ancient Greek city situated on the south-western coast of Sicily and one of the most famous archaeological sites in Sicily and in Europe. Many buildings were damaged by an earthquakes, that occurred during the Middle Ages, but the remaining ruins stand out with their white colors against the blue sky and blue sea just opposite the site. You can mainly find the sculptures, from the excavations of Selinunte, in the National Archaeological Museum of Palermo.
The city has preserved historical and artistic traces of all the peoples who have lived here: Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans and Spanish. A city with many churches, sanctuaries and archaeological sites but also with a rich offer of natural beauties. Marsala is also home to an exceptional dessert wine, not to mention some exceptional dishes of local tradition such as fish cous-cous and pasta with sea urchin roe.
This part of coastline is marked by the shore walk Boeo, the presence of the Stagnone Reserve, a lagoon consisting of four small islands, and a series of beaches: from the closest, the Lido Signorino and Lido Torrazza as far as Punta Tramontana and Mazzara del Vallo.
You’ll be amazed by the beauty of the Egadi Archipelago with crystal-clear waters, composed of three islands and islets. Favignana is the largest and better equipped island, also there is Marettimo with white low houses and blue doors, and then there is Levanzo, which has only 200 residents, therefore represents an ideal destination for those who want to spend a peaceful and relaxing time. Part of the Archipelago are also the islet of Formica and the rock of Maraone.
Known as the “City of the Two Seas”, Trapani is a port city in Western Sicily, set on a tongue of land dominated by the Tower of Ligny and by the Lazzaretto.
Thanks to its strategic position, ancient Drepanon (the original name) was initially the market outpost of Erice and by the time a Phoenician trading port. It then became a Roman town but the deepest imprint was left on the city by the three centuries of Arab domination.
Just outside the city, striking scenery is offered by the Salt Pans of Trapani and Paceco, a nature reserve whose landscape has been shaped by the work of man.
Not far from Trapani, on the top of a hill stands the small historic town of Erice, a picturesque medieval gem offering stunning views.
Known as “the Sicilian Caribbean”, the beautiful beach of San Vito Lo Capo lies on a bay between spectacular mountains that appear to be sinking into the sea. It is popular with local climbers. This great beach is an homage to the Mediterranean: white sand, stunning crystal clear waters and an amazing view of the surrounding Zingaro Natural Reserve. Shaped by nature over the centuries, Zingaro reserve was Sicily’s first protected area, created in 1981. It is a real paradise of nature for the great variety of natural environments that characterised its 1,600 hectares.
A tradition that is about two million years old when fishing was practiced in a crude and essential way. The various stories that have happened on the island have improved and refined fishing techniques up to a primary maritime economic enterprise. The Phoenicians, as in Cadiz, had organised a seafaring center, where fishing was also carried out. The tradition continues with the Greeks and the Byzantines and the Arabs which gave a touch of refinement with the installation of the fixed nets at sea; it was placed in a way in which the tunas were guided through various rooms up to the final one. This system is what is needed and is used in order to “imprison” the tunas and prevent their exit.
Ustica is a small, beautiful, unique, and wild-enough island full of good-hearted people. Fantastic seabeds, a marine reserve like few in the Mediterranean, and many places perfect for diving. A fascinating historical backgorund, a paradise for divers and fish. The magical island of Circe, immersed in the blue Tyrrhenian Sea, is only 67 km far from the city of Palermo. In less than 9 square km you will see history, art, nature, adventure, and culture. Ustica is an island with a wonderfully mild climate and vegetation, rich with olive and almond trees, vines and brooms. Coves with sand pebbles, beautiful caves, incredible colors and crystal-clear water. Here are some places of interest:
Cala Sidoti is located on the western side of the island and it has shallow-water near the shore, so it is recommended for children. Scogli Piatti is an ideal place were relaxing in the sun in a picturesque setting.
Piscina Naturale is a pool of clear water, surrounded by a cliff and communicating with the sea under the Punta Cavazzi lighthouse. Ustica is the first Marine Protected Area established in Italy. The topography of the area, also, invites us to take a walk to discover the native species of the Reserve of Ustica Island. The trails that follow the island gentle slopes, memory of its volcanic origins, make us enjoy amazing landscapes and stunning sunsets, surrounded by the blue of sky and sea. Its multi-colored and unique Mediterranean scrub changes along with the alternation of the seasons, through a blend of contrasting colors.
Palermo is the capital of Sicily Island, dominates one of the most beautiful gulfs of the Mediterranean Sea. Palermo is the most important commercial center on the island and also in Africa and other countries that dominate the Mediterranean Sea. An island with centuries of history and dominations, a city with a thousand faces, crossroads of villages, a mix of different cultures and traditions, just magnificent.
Palermo has great artistic value and in recent years has engaged in a project of renovation and revaluation of architecture and tourism. Palermo is a city synonymous of art, sea, good food and good life, in short, a city worth visiting! Palermo is the capital of marvelous artistic treasures from different period of time that make this territory special and unique.
We recommend to include in your vacation a tour of this amazing city. You can have a look at some of the main attractions of Palermo, such as:
The complex of the Basilica of Monreale, certainly one of the best examples of how art has managed to tune into the heart of man. The Cathedral of Santa Maria Nuova is the main church of Monreale, in the metropolitan city of Palermo. It was built at the request of William II of Altavilla, king of Sicily since 1174 and is famous for its rich Byzantine mosaics. The Castle of Zisa is one of the most representative monuments of the Arab-Norman period in Palermo. Although its construction was done by the will of the Norman kings, the architecture of this building has an Arab footprint, with some changes over the centuries. On July 3, 2015, UNESCO declared the Castle of Zisa a World Heritage Site.
The Massimo Vittorio Emanuele Theatre is the largest lyric theatre in Italy and the third in Europe, it is located in the current Verdi Square. It has an eclectic-neoclassical style that recalls the forms of classical architecture, with its famous staircase, columns with Corinthian capitals, the portico and the large metal dome.
Palermo boasts also a beautiful seafront. Mondello is Palermo’s city beach, usually crowded, but still worth a visit: the beach lies between the scenic Monte Gallo and Monte Pellegrino. Mondello sand is soft and pale-coloured, the water crystal clear. Perfect to have a dive from your charter yacht or catamaran.
Once in Palermo, do make sure also to visit its open air markets: Vucciria, Ballarò, and Borgo Vecchio.
Loved by tourists and locals, this beautiful corner is the ideal location for a seaside holiday in Sicily. Cefalù is a sea destination in the Province of Palermo, located on the northern coast of Sicily. Just a few steps away from the historic centre and from its winding Mediaeval streets flanked with all manner of shops and restaurants, you reach the golden- coloured beach of Cefalù.
Formed by volcanic activity, the Aeolian Islands are seven small inhabited islands sourrounded by the Tyrrhenian Sea in the north of Sicily: Lipari, Vulcano, Salina, Stromboli, Filicudi, Alicudi, Panarea and Basiluzzo. The largest and most touristic island is Lipari but travellers are also attracted to the opportunity to hike up to the craters of Vulcano and Stromboli, the still active volcanoes of the archipelago. Furthermore, after the sunset, you can fully enjoy the starry sky, thanks to the municipality’s decision to avoid putting road lights. The Aeolian Islands are listed by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites