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What to see in Sicily

Sicily Attractions


Although once associated so strongly with the mafia that tourists were hesitant to visit, Sicily is now drawing droves of sightseers to its beautiful beaches and countless ancient archaeological sites.

Palermo, Sicily's capital, is still being dragged down somewhat by the crime and grime that was once the trademark of the island, but it also has some fascinating Byzantine, Baroque and Norman historic buildings and artefacts, and some great museums. Catania, Sicily's second largest city, spreading beneath the shadow of glorious Mount Etna, is similar to Palermo in that it is an ugly but ancient city with historic gems interspersed in its urban sprawl. Visitors passing through Sicily's big cities will find plentiful diversions, but for most tourists the smaller villages, like the stunningly picturesque Taormina, are where the real Sicilian charm can be found. Syracuse, which once rivalled Athens as the most important city in the ancient Greek world, is perhaps an exception to this rule, because its historic quarter on the island of Ortygia is one of Sicily's greatest attractions.

Must-see archaeological sites on Sicily include the Valley of the Temples, just outside Agrigento, the Roman ruins at Solunto, on the slopes of Mount Catalfamo, and, for those keen on diving, the underwater city of Ustica.

Sicily is also in demand for its stunning beaches; a dramatic, rocky coast gives way to some beautiful sandy beaches. It is warm enough for swimming between May and October. Rabbit Beach, at Lampedusa, has been called the best beach in the world, but it has some local competition: Mondello Bay, near Palermo, is very popular; San Vito lo Capo, between Trapani and Palermo, is one of the island's best resort areas; the Aeolian archipelago off Sicily's northeast coast boasts some magnificent beaches; and the southeastern coast of Sicily is beautifully unspoiled.


Capuchin Catacombs

The subterranean catacombs that contain the mummified remains of about 8,000 ancient inhabitants of Palermo may be macabre,…

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Catania

The second-largest city in Sicily, Catania sits in the shadow of Europe's highest volcano, Mount Etna, on the east of…

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Galleria Regionale

Palermo's largest art museum, devoted to medieval works, is housed within the Gothic-styled Palazzo Abbatellis (built…

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Marionette Museum

One of Palermo's most unique attractions is the engaging Museo Internazionale delle Marionette, a museum dedicated to…

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Monreale Cathedral

Of all the many architecturally beautiful and fascinating places of worship in Palermo, the most renowned is the 12th-century…

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Mount Etna

Sicily's greatest natural attraction is the (very) active volcano, Mount Etna, which has been spewing lava and shaking…

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Ortygia

The Ponte Nuova (New Bridge) connects the mainland city of Syracuse to the island of Ortygia, where most of…

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Palazzo Mirto

The excessive opulence of the Baroque period is nowhere better demonstrated than in the magnificent Palazzo Mirto, one…

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Palermo

Corrupt, decaying, noisy, polluted, over-populated, jumbled and crime-ridden. All these unpleasant adjectives can be…

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Palermo's Regional Archaeological Museum

Some of Europe's greatest archaeological treasures are tucked away in Palermo's somewhat musty museum, which is well…

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Solunto

The Roman ruins at Solunto overlook the coast near Santa Flavia, on the slopes of Mount Catalfamo. The site was originally…

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Syracuse

Visitors to Syracuse may be forgiven for wondering whether they are on holiday in Italy or Greece. This city on the southeastern…

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Taormina

Sicily's most famous holiday resort town, Taormina, was the 19th-century haunt of British aristocracy and the place chosen…

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Ustica

An underwater city and a landscape of petrified black lava are the characteristics of the unusual little island of Ustica…

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Valley of the Temples (Valle dei Templi)

Although not technically a 'valley' but rather a ridge located just outside the Sicilian town of Agrigento, the Valley…

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