What you should see in Sicily

Top 8 Places to visit in Sicily

What to see in Sicily :

  • 1) Taormina. …
  • 2) Syracuse and Ortygia Island. …
  • 3) Villa Romana del Casale. …
  • 4) Cappella Palatina in Palermo. ..
  • 5) Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples. …
  • 6)The Cathedral of Monreale..
  • 7) Mount Etna.
  • 8) Cefalù.
  • 9) Ragusa Ibla.

Sicily is full of superlatives, many of them relating to treasures of the ancient world.

In Agrigento’s Valley of Temples, for example, you’ll see one of the three most perfect temples in the Greek world. At Selinunte is one of the largest of all known Greek temples. 

Villa Romana del Casale , with more than 3,500 square meters of mosaics,

is one of the best-preserved villas anywhere in the Roman Empire and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Both the stunning mosaics and the exquisite cloister at Monreale are considered highlights of European art,

and the collections at Palermo’s Archeological Museum rank it as one of Italy’s best.

Sicily has its share of natural wonders, too, with Mount Etna ranking as continental Europe’s tallest active volcano,

and the nightly display from Stromboli, in the neighboring Aeolian Islands, its most dependable.

And don’t forget the beaches.

One of the top beach destinations in Italy sits under the soaring headlands at San Vito Lo Capo, complete with palm trees, soft white sand, and clear blue water.

It’s adjacent to the Zingaro Nature Reserve, on Sicily’s northwestern coast.

Beyond its tourist attractions, you’ll enjoy Sicily for its lively local culture and spirited people.

Discover the best things to do on this diverse island with our list of the top attractions in Sicily.

“What to see in Sicily” The Cathedral of Monreale.

The cathedral’s architecture represents the move away from Eastern Byzantine forms,

but its decoration with dazzling mosaics-considered the church’s magnificent highlight-keep it firmly in the Byzantine traditions.

They cover every available surface,

in intricate illustrations of Biblical text and themes rendered in vibrant colors and with exceptional artistic virtuosity.

“What to see in Sicily” Valley of Temples in Agrigento.

Valley of Temples

The large complex of temples and tombs in Agrigento

dates as far back as 500 BC and includes Sicily’s best preserved Doric temple-Tempio di Concordia-one of the most perfect to survive anywhere. 

The entire group is listed as a

UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Official site: http://www.valleyofthetemples.com/

“What to see in Sicily”  Palermo Cappella Palatina.

Monreale Cathedral

Two of Palermo’s three major churches,

the Cappella Palatina and Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio, better known as La Martorana, are famed for their mosaics.

Those in the chancel of the Normans’ court church,

Cappella Palatina, are thought to be from 1143 and the mosaic of Christ between Peter and Paul from about 1350.

Other highlights of the church are the Arabic stalactite ceiling,

the pulpit on carved and inlaid pillars, and the tall candelabra.

Mount Etna.

Etna and Taormina private tour

 Volcanic vents, fumaroles, hot springs,

and lava flows add to its changing landscape,

much of which you can explore (although not too close to the central crater) on foot or in all-terrain vehicles designed for traction in the volcanic surface.

Roads lead to the base of cable cars,

which will take you to the 2,500-meter point, an easy day trip from Catania or Taormina. In the winter, you can ski near the summit.

A narrow-gauge railway, Ferrovia Circumetnea takes you almost completely around the mountain,

or you can circle it by car, through towns with castles, archeological sites, and splendid scenery.

Along Mount Etna’s northern side,

the Alcantara River has cut a spectacular gorge through a long-ago lava flow to create the Gole dell’Alcántara (Alcantara Gorge).

Villa Romana del Casale in Piazza Armerina.

villa romana del casale tour

A 12th-century landslide buried this sprawling Roman villa outside Enna,

thus preserving it almost intact to be discovered and excavated eight centuries later.

One of the best-preserved villas anywhere in the Roman Empire, it still has most of the original decoration.

In the 50 rooms so far excavated are more than 3,500 square meters of mosaic floors with detailed scenes from mythology and contemporary life,

including hunting wild animals for use in gladiatorial combat.

The thermal baths with their colonnaded courtyard and fountain are especially beautiful.

The villa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Official site: http://www.italia.it/en/travel-ideas/unesco-world-heritage-sites/piazza-armerina-the-villa-romana.html

Parco Archeologico della Neapolis.

Syracuse & Ortygia tour

One of the largest theaters in the ancient Greek Empire is a good reason, but not the only one,

to visit the archaeological park in Syracuse.

The view of the excavations as you approach along Viale Rizzo will give you an idea of their extent,

which includes both the Greek Theater and a large Roman Amphitheater.

An interesting feature of this archaeological park is the opportunity to see the quarries where the building stone was cut on-site for the various structures. The largest of these is the Latomia del Paradiso, where limestone was quarried since the sixth century BC.

One of the underground galleries has such perfect acoustics that it is known as l’Orecchio di Dionisio, the Ear of Dionysius.

Official site: https://www.siracusaturismo.net/public/cosa_vedere/Parco_Archeologico_della_Neapolis_Siracusa.asp

 Taormina’s Greek Theater

Taormina’s streets open into terraces, each one

with postcard-worthy views of the sea or mountain.

Taormina Greek theatre

Corso Umberto is the main street,

crossing the town in a series of squares and terraces and lined by venerable buildings, smart shops, and open-air cafés.

Lanes lead upward, becoming long flights of stairs that lead higher and higher to more viewpoints and a castle.

The best-known view, immortalized by painters for centuries, is from the landmark Greek Theater,

built in the third century BC by the Greeks and completely rebuilt a century later by the Romans.

It is largely intact and used for performances.

Cefalù Cathedral.

Cefalu' Cathedral

One of Sicily’s most interesting medieval buildings,

the imposing cathedral was built, so legend has it,

by the Norman King Roger II as a votive offering for surviving a storm at sea.

The semi-circular dome of the apse is filled by a mosaic of Christ by Byzantine artists,

among the best-preserved mosaics in Sicily.

Along with the mosaics,

look for the baptismal font from the 12th century and for the highly ornamental plasterwork in the choir.

The cathedral stands out above winding stone streets that drop into the colorful fishing harbor

and a long white-sand beach that stretches along the coast from right below the old town. 

“What to see in Sicily” Ragusa Ibla.

The Old Town of Ragusa is thought to be the site of the original town of Hybla and,

later, the Greek Hybla Heraia.

The baroque town of Modica

Like the newer town above,

this quiet quarter of narrow,

crooked streets was also largely rebuilt in the Baroque style

after the 1693 earthquake.

So you’ll see many examples of 18th-century architecture scattered among other buildings that survived from before the earthquake,

and even a few traces of ancient structures.