About Sicily

Sicily's appeal as a holiday destination is still a well-kept insider secret. Whatever you choose to visit will be off the beaten path. If you visit in the winter months, even its six UNESCO World Heritage Sites are likely to be so tranquil you may feel like the only tourist there.

This is not the only reason Sicily is such an appealing destination for a winter holiday. Being just 37 degrees north of the equator, it enjoys an average of 4 hours of sunshine per day in winter and lies on the same meridian as Arizona, the Azores and Tunsia. Of these options, it is the cheapest to fly to and stay in, and probably the safest as well.

Whilst a few movies have given some people the idea that the Mafia make Sicily a dangerous place, in reality Sicily is one of the safest places in the world for tourists. Whilst the Mafia may still be a nuisance to the locals, the time when it took violence onto the streets is long gone. Even in the past, Mafia-related violence was limited to a very small number of deprived neighbourhoods.

Holidays in Sicily tend to be full of positive surprises. These are the four things most tourists express surprise over:

  •  First surprise:
    Although Sicily is constantly sunny, it is still a very green island. It has 76 nature reserves, twice as many as Tuscany. So in Sicily you can vary your beach holidays with some hiking tours, well away from any tourist trap.
  •  Second surprise:
    Sicily's beaches are less crowded than you might expect. From the end of August onwards, when all the locals go back to work and school, they are practically deserted; yet the sun continues to blaze down, and the water remains very warm throughout September and well into October. Some very affordable holiday rental apartments in Sicily come with direct access to the sea or even their own private beach, which may be just what you need for your dream holiday.
  •  Third surprise:
    The history of Sicily goes back longer than most of Europe. The countless nations which invaded Sicily in turns contributed to the island's culture.
    Throughout Sicily, you can see monuments and even whole cities left by the ancient and more recent cultures around the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Middle East over the last two and a half thousand years and more. You can taste what they brought in the local cuisine, hear it in the language and in the traditional music, and see the racial diversity in the faces of the people. You can shop in markets founded over 1,000 years ago by the Arabs. You can walk around ancient cities built by the north Africans nearly 3,000 years ago. You can drive along roads built by the Romans and you can look at the artwork of the Norman French and the Spanish baroque in spectacular churches.
    You may recognise elements of all of them which, over the centuries, worked their way throughout Europe. Many visitors to Sicily sooner or later comment that, if you want to understand European history, Sicily is the key to everything.
  •  Fourth surprise:
    Holidays in Sicily are cheaper than you might expect. Even in the central piazza of Cefalù, Sicily's tourist Mecca, you can get a slap-up meal for ten Euros. In Venice you would be lucky to find a cappucino for this price.

But these four surprises are just the beginning. Sicily has a staggering variety of things to see and do. Trip Tipp explains more in the next two chapters.

Solemar Sicilia italienisch Sprachkurse in Sizilien
learn italian in sicily for 30 years