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Sicily is one of those unique holiday destinations that attracts travellers for no single reason; rather, its multitude of attractions lures a diverse range of tourists to bask in its sunshine. The island’s appeal then, is – quite literally – greater than the sum of its parts. Walkers and hikers, art lovers, beach bums, foodies, devotees of opera and theatre, religious pilgrims: all head for this charming island off the southern coast of Italy. And regardless of your interests, there is a busy calendar of annual events to keep you entertained when you land on Sicilian turf.
Given its modest dimensions, the volume of Sicilian festivals and fairs is considerable. From Acireale to Palermo, Sciacca to Syracuse, the processions – many of them religious in origin – wend, offering an insight into the spiritual life of the fiercely patriotic islanders. Food and drinks festivals are also commonplace, with most Sicilian towns claiming a patron saint or cherished local dish. If you’re keen to fill your belly at a religious feast, or leaf through the year’s finest Mediterranean novels at Palermo’s November book festival, you’re destined to have a good time.
Top five Sicily events
Events in Sicily: Festival of Santa Rosalia
Perhaps the most significant event in Sicily’s calendar is the festival of its patron saint, Santa Rosalia. Held for five days in mid-July, in Palermo, the tradition sees a relic of the Santuzza spirited along the wide thoroughfares of the city amid much fanfare. Santa Rosalia is said to have saved the Palermitani from the plague in the early 17th century. Appearing as an apparition, she instructed one citizen to convey her remains around Palermo; when he did so, it is said that those afflicted were cured. Today, shows, dance and music are on the menu for patriotic revellers.
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Festivals in Sicily: La Sagre del Mare
La Sagre del Mare – or the Feast of the Sea – fuses exquisite gastronomy, lashings of local wine and traditional music. And if you like the idea of delicious, locally caught fish cooked before your eyes in huge frying pans, you’ve come to the right place. Held in Maraza del Vallo, on Sicily’s west coast, the festival typically kicks off in the third week of August. Meanwhile, local merchants sell their produce, including pasta, mussels and pastries. This is a festival where you really can expand your palate: seaweed pizza, anyone?
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Events in Sicily: Carnival week
February is the month of the carnival in Sicily; in Acireale and Sciacca, major parties pop off with a series of colourful parades, elaborate allegorical floats and costume-clad roisterers. There are other carnivals all across Sicily, too, including in Palazzolo Acreide, Saponara and Taormina. Folk concerts, marching bands, majorettes: this is capital-C Carnival. All good parties must come to an end, though: the festivities burn out – literally – when the floats are torched on the Tuesday evening before Ash Wednesday.
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Festivals in Sicily: Infiorata di Noto
Located some 20 miles southwest of Syracuse, at the base of the Iblean Mountains, the Baroque town of Noto is the venue for the vibrant yearly Infiorata. Held in May, the town – named in 2002 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site – becomes awash with luxuriant floral arrangements, the product of weeks of work by talented artisans. Huge quantities of flowers, fed into a mechanical grinder, are transformed into confetti-sized shreds that are then arranged into spectacular mosaics that carpet the streets. Think you’ve seen a flower show? Think again.
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Events in Sicily: Palio dei Normanni
Historical re-enactments usually mean a group of friends heading into the woodland, armed with plastic swords and swathed in chainmail armour. At the Palio dei Normanni, it’s a little more full-on. Held in mid-August, this festival sees participants don regal period costume and participate in age-old feats of strength and acumen on horseback. The event commemorates Roger I, the famous Saracens-conquering Norman ruler. Come along to the Piazza Armerina for a spot of jousting, or simply bask in the fanfare of the trumpets and drums. Hey, if you’ve always wanted to dress up as a chivalrous knight or 11th-century lady, there ain’t no better setting.
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Sicily Holiday Rentals
The Relais Taormina Country is located in the middle of an immense countryside estate blooming with citrus fruit and Saracen olive trees.
There are 12 double bedrooms (10 convertible into twins), 13 bathrooms, and 14 single beds in the mezzanines ...
The property is named Le case del Principe. It is located in the countryside of Taormina between the volcano Etna and the sea. There are 5 cottages sharing an amazing pool area and a lush mediterranean garden full of flowers and trees. The propert...
The villa lies in the countryside of Taormina in a gorgeous old family estate producing lemons, oranges, wine and olive oil, 2km from the sea and 7 from the center town of Taormina.
The house has been recently restored conjugating the charm and th...
"This spacious and comfortable house is up a small mountain road, with a lovely view of the sea, and the mountains across the bay of Castellamare. It gives total peace and privacy without any feeling of isolation. At the end of April the wild flow...
Rent weekly elegant , brand new Villa in Residence at only 70 m. from the sea , just 4 km from the center of Cefalù , a beautiful Norman town . The residence has a large swimming pool and a smaller one for children, supervised by a lifeguard in th...
Our flat is situated in the Gulf of Castellammare, one of the most beautiful plaeces in Sicily, connected very good to the rest of Sicily thanks to the freeway A29 Palermo - Trapani, to the railway station of Balestate and to the Palermo and Trapa...
Casa Vacanze “Primo Piano” is situated on the 1st floor of a typical "palazzina" dating back to the end of XX century. Completely restored it offers comfortable accomodation. Modern and functional, it enjoys a minimalist architecture.
This nice fl...
Mareluna residence is a stylish palace far from touristic port only 200 mt, recently renovated. Mareluna is located in the historical centre of Castellammare del Golfo (overlooking the 'four corners' of the town) only 250 m from “Cala Petrolo” the...
Villa Ceni is a villa from me entirely renovated in 2006 with the addition of the south side of the garden. The spa pool was made in May 2013. The name 'Villa Ceni' is an acronym of the initials of the names of my parents (Cecilia and Nicholas) to...
The Appartamento Libertà is a holiday-home in Palermo downtown, lately renovated and equipped with all the comforts: within it, you’ll find a spacious living-room with American kitchen, a cosy bedroom with converter air-conditioned and a bathroom ...