Sicily remainder of bygone civilisation!
Seductively beautiful and perfectly placed in the heart of the Mediterranean, Sicily has been luring passersby since the time of legends. The land of the Cyclops has been praised by poets from Homer to Virgil and prized by the many ancient cultures – Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Elymians, Romans and Greeks – whose bones lie buried here. Whether in the classical perfection of Agrigento’s Concordia temple, the monumental rubble of Selinunte’s columns or the rare grace of a dancing satyr statue rescued from Mazara del Vallo’s watery depths, reminders of bygone civilisations are everywhere.
Sicily has long been a crossroads and crucible of Mediterranean culture, and the island today is a fascinating palimpsest in which Greek temples, Norman churches and Baroque palazzos emerge from the rich fabric. But it also has natural wonders aplenty, from the smoking craters of Mount Etna to the still relatively undiscovered beaches of the southern coast. This embarrassment of cultural riches remains one of the island’s most distinctive attractions.
With parts of the island on the same latitude as the North African coast, Sicily has a mild climate that makes it an attractive destination for much of the year with spring and autumn giving sheer delight.
Most of Sicily’s attractions are cultural or scenic, but this is the kind of destination where sightseeing is always more than “just” sightseeing. It’s the combination of history, a balmy climate and a vibrant contemporary eating, drinking and shopping scene that gives this island of wine, citrus fruits and ancient landscapes such all-year-round appeal.
Aeolian Islands, Agrigento, the “Valley of the Temples” is a large archeological site outside town surrounded by olive groves and almond orchards.Cefalù is the western Sicily’s “Taormina” . The design of the splendid Norman cathedral was based on a French one. There’s an ancient Sicanian temple on the rocky cliff overlooking the town, and the ruins of a castle. In Monreale the arcane fact that a mosaic icon of Thomas Becket graces the apse, and that it is the earliest holy image of the English saint murdered in Canterbury Cathedral, is just one of many fascinating features of this twelfth-century cathedral and cloister built on a hill in the eclectic Norman-Arab style with Byzantine artistic elements.Another “secret” fact is that the heart of Saint Louis is preserved here.
Palermo which is Sicily’s regional capital and largest city is perhaps best compared to a rough, uncut jewel. Its beauty has to be revealed through careful discovery. One can find this bustling city chaotic and dusty yet interesting. The historic environment of this former royal capital of kings and emirs is largely Baroque with some stunning nuggets of medieval architecture. The Norman Palace, with its Byzantine Palatine Chapel, is built upon Phoenician walls. Piazza Armerina which is the Roman villa outside town has the most extensive mosaic pavements of the ancient Roman world, which was the home of wealthy Romans who loved art. Archimedes, Plato and Saint Paul loved Syracuse the most important cities of the Greek and Roman Sicily.
Europe’s greatest natural wonder is a living, sacred mountain of legend and myth. Consider a jeep excursion to the upper regions, which are covered with snow for four months of the year. One can dress warmly in summer too as it’s always cool at the top. This is Sicily’s highest mountain at approximately 3350 meters, which can also be viewed from the moon.
Sicily’s viticultural region covers a large patch of the western part of the island. Marsala is the commercial center of this scenic region. one can sample Sicilian wines at virtually any restaurant in Sicily, but actually finding the most scenic viticultural landscape can be elusive. It’s a magical place that rivals any grape-growing region in the world in its serene magnificence. It also has what is in some ways a more distinguished history. That’s because domesticated grapes were cultivated here long before they were introduced into France or northern Italy.
Though it’s one of the most ravishing places in the Mediterranean, one which can prove dangerously addictive for anyone with a taste for sweeping olive-strewn landscapes, starkly beautiful Greek temples, Byzantine mosaics and ricotta-filled pastries, Sicily is also an island that suffers from an inferiority complex.
Sicilians look back with some nostalgia to the two eras when they could have been a contender. When they were more than just a provider of grain, of alcohol-rich grapes, of manpower .
These were, respectively, the flowering of Greek culture on the island beginning in the 7th century BC, and the brief but intense awakening between around 1100 and 1250 AD, when the island’s Norman rulers engineered a unique fusion of northern European, Byzantine and Islamic cultures.
The soul of this resilient, irresistible island lies in this eternal crossroads of the Mediterranean gorgeous island of Sicily which continues to seduce travellers with its dazzling diversity of landscapes and cultural treasures.