Darla Logsdon

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SICILY ISLAND, ITALY

Sicily is a mountainous island dotted with lemon, orange, almond and pistachio orchards —an extension of the Apennine Mountains separated from the mainland by the Strait of Messina. La Sicilia is the largest island in the central Mediterranean, with some 9,927 sq mi of variegated terrain.

Many powers have occupied and governed this strategically important area 310 mi south of Rome: Greeks, Romans, Vandals, Goths, Byzantines, Muslims (Arabs), Phoenicians, Normans, Spanish, the royal houses of Hohenstaufen, Savoy, Habsburg, the Aragon and, for brief periods, the U.K. and the U.S. Historic sites related to these powers are part of the island's attraction.

Sicily is a wonderful spot for a vacation with a unique mix of history, culture, nature, fine cuisine and a variety of activities to experience.

There visitors find water sports, beaches of rock and sand (including black sand), rugged mountains and volcanoes and beautiful vistas, good food, prized ceramics and other quality shopping, and friendly people.

Sightseeing

Sicily boasts six UNESCO World Heritage sites.

It is best to have one or two weeks to tour Sicily in order to fully experience the sights, culture and scenery of the island. If time is limited, however, a good strategy is to pick a region or an area of the island to visit for a few days, such as the northwestern part—Palermo and Trapani—where you can also plan a visit to the temple at Segesta, and the charming hilltop town of Erice. A side trip to the Egadi Islands is also possible.

Geography

Sicily is the largest region of Italy. The coastline of the triangular-shaped island is more than 620 mi long, and it takes about three and a half hours to cross the island from east to west by car and about two and a half hours to cross it from north to south.

 

Sicily's highest point is Mount Etna at 10,902 ft, an active volcano on the eastern side of the island, with the Nebrodi and Madonie mountain ranges located along the northern coast. The area around Etna consists of very fertile, volcanic soil. Most of the rest of Sicily's topography is hilly and rugged, with the land being dominated by agriculture wherever possible.

There are many islands off the coast of Sicily.

Dos & Don’ts

Do spend a morning in one of the city produce, meat or seafood markets—such as the fish market in the Piazza Carlo Alberto in Catania or the Ballaro in Palermo—where you will get a true feeling for the pace of day-to-day life in Sicily.

Do eat lots of ice cream—it's what the locals do. A traditional Sicilian breakfast consists of an icy granita (in fruit or various other flavors) eaten along with or inside a brioche (a bun with the texture of a croissant), or scoops of ice cream directly in the bun. For the ultimate iced coffee experience, order a granita al caffe con panna (coffee granita topped with fresh cream).

Do eat the seafood: Sicilians are great lovers of fish.

Don't expect Sicily to be efficient. It's an old place filled with bureaucracy and inefficiency, so don't be in a hurry, and be patient.

Don't be afraid to ask. If you ever get stuck, lost or need advice, feel free to ask a local. Sicilians are very open and generous of their time, so if you need help, simply ask for it.

Geostats

Passport/Visa Requirements: Citizens of the U.S.,need passports but not visas. All visitors must present proof of sufficient funds and onward passage. Reconfirm travel document requirements with your carrier before departure.

Population: 5,043,480.

Languages: Italian, Sicilian.

Predominant Religions: Christian (Roman Catholic).

Currency: Euro

Time Zone: 1 hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (+1 GMT). Daylight Saving Time is observed from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October.

Voltage Requirements: 220 volts

Travel 42

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Courtesy of: Darla Logsdon

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