Sicily summer holidaysHot the summer up on the island of Sicily
Sicily might well be a small island, but given its cultural legacy – not to mention its cuisine, nature reserves and national parks – it should definitely be classified as a heavyweight of Italian tourism. While you can certainly find many lovely beaches on the island, sunbathers are spoiled for choice when it comes to filling the rest of their time: there are myriad ancient Greek and Roman sites to explore; the famous, smouldering volcano of Mount Etna to marvel at; alluring Baroque churches in which to soak up the silence. From port to port, Sicily gives visitors the chance to satiate the imagination’s longings.
Sicily, as you might expect, is an exceedingly popular tourist destination for summer holidays. However, there are always ways to stay ahead of the crowd. Hop on a hydrofoil and go island-hopping around the Aeolian Islands off the north coast; get away from the beach bums and take in the salt pans of west Sicily; drop in on the rustic villages clustered in the Madonie National Park; cool off in Lipari’s incomparable archeology museum. The diversity of the landscape means you’ll never be short of options.
Five incredible summer holiday destinations in Sicily
Summer holidays in Cefalu
Cefalu is a town located within the province of Palermo, on the northern coast of Sicily. Tourists rock up here for the beauty of the Tyrrhenian Sea and for the storied history of the region; temples, castles and megalithic walls are all part of the package. Among the other sights are a multitude of churches, including Cefalu Cathedral, built by Roger II in the 1100s. Alternatively, why not explore the ancient Roman baths, before stopping for a cold refreshment at one of the many beach bars? Masquenada, near Piazza Garibaldi, is a great choice for cocktails.
Summer holidays in Ragusa
Named one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites, the city of Ragusa is built between two valleys, Cava Santa Domenica and Cava San Leonardo. Here you’ll find plenty to keep you entertained, from Bronze Age necropoli to 11th-century cathedrals. What’s more, Ragusa, being somewhat off the beaten path, is home to some of the quietest beaches in all of Sicily. Of course, food and drink is always going to be associated with this island, such is the quality of the family-owned restaurants and cafés. Work up an appetite hiking the Hyblaean Mountains and reward yourself with a delicious Cavatieddi, a fresh pasta dish of pork sauce and sausage, served locally.
Summer holidays in Agrigento
Agrigento is not only a vibrant Italian city, perfect for modern summer holidays, but was also the home of the ancient Greek city, Akragas – and like in other parts of the island, one gets an enormous sense of the Greek influences here. Visit Valle dei Templi and you’ll find no fewer than seven ancient Greek temples. Much of the ancient ruins have not been fully excavated yet, but what has already been uncovered is a treasure trove for history buffs. You can then explore churches and cathedrals from the 13th and 14th centuries, as well as an archaeological museum housing further precious artefacts.
Summer holidays in Marsala
Marsala, found on the western coast of Sicily, ranks fifth amongst the most populated cities on the island. If you’re planning a summer holiday here, you’re in for a treat; the old streets have a decidedly Baroque feel to them, the wineries are first-rate, and the eateries – especially Ill Gallo e I’Innamorata – are positively acclaimed. Those with a penchant for architecture will appreciate diverse elements from the various civilisations that once called Marsala home throughout the ages. While here, you'll naturally want to sample some authentic Marsala wine, for which the city has become famous.
Summer holidays in the Aeolian Islands
The Aeolian Islands, located north of Sicily in the Tyrrhenian Sea, is the name given to the volcanic archipelago that comprises some seven Sicilian islands. Adventurous explorers will be in their element here – the terrain is more than a little rugged, with deep caverns, sheer cliffs and magnificent active volcanoes. Alternatively, go diving or fishing in the sea, hike up Fossa di Vulcano, then check out the Stromboli Crater, formed 40,000 years ago. When you’ve ticked these pursuits off your list, venture to the Museo Archeologico Eoliano to learn more about the history of the islands, including their volcanic activity.