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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
VILLA CLELIA - PLEMMIRIO
The villa (120sq.m) is in a very panoramic position, 10km south from Syracuse. A narrow winding path and steps will lead you from the house through an open landscape to the sea which is at about 250m (rocky beach). The cry...
In the shadow of the Peloritani Mountains which are surmounted by the snow-capped peak of Mt. Etna, Europe's largest volcano, lies the Agritourism development of Lorena Resort. A few kilometres off the Messina/Palermo motorway and sided by the m...
VILLETTE TAORMINA - TAORMINA
The charming Villette Taormina apartment (120sqm) is part of a Resort consisting of about 20 apartments, ideal for guests looking for a unique holiday in one of the most enchanting spots of Sicily. The resort is locate...
4 bedroom villa with large swimming pool set in spacious grounds near Catania.
The villa is walking distance from Sant'Agata Li Battiati, a small town North of Catania, at the foot of Etna. This impressive property is surrounded by 11,000 sq.m of...
It is situated in a narrow road lit up by pretty lanterns and suitable only for small cars.
External metal stairs to second floor. From a pleasant terrace door to corridor leading to medium size twin/double bedroom, bathroom with shower, charming...
We have just added two bedrooms, one powder room and one shower room to our 'Studio Suite'. All brand new and sparkling!
Overlooking a subtropical garden, this Suite in Villa, located above the owner holiday residence, is ideal if you want to sta...
Tthis beautiful architect designed VILLA DELLE PALME, owner’s holiday residence, is ideal if you want to stay away from commercial properties. It is available for rent year round.
VILLA DELLE PALME offers two interconnected but independent section...
The building is located at 1 km from the sea with sandy beach, 2. 5 Km from Guidaloca bay with pebble beach and 3 km from Scopello and the Zingaro nature reserve. The location is ideal for trips to the sea in places like San Vito Lo Capo, Favignan...
VILLA SPIRO - SYRACUSE AREA
Villa Spiro is located on the east coast of Sicily near to Syracuse. It is located 1.5km from the sea with crystal clear water. The ancient fishing village of Brucoli is about 5 km away. For more choice of shops like ch...
VILLA SERA - SCOPELLO
Villa Sera, located in a lovely garden, is the perfect place to spend a relaxing holiday and enjoy a magnificent sea view. The villa is located near the beach of Cala Bianca, known for its white rocks and crystalline waters.