Wondering where the Land of the Sun is? It's in Sicily, southern Italy.
Heart of the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily was originally called "the Island of the Sun" especially for its identification with the island described by Homer in the IX Book of the Odyssey. Known as the biggest island of the Mediterranean Sea, today Sicily is surely one of the must-go places to visit if you are looking for some enchantment and genuine Italian beauty.
Why? Here are the four main reasons to visit this wonderful island.
Warmth and generosity is what makes Sicilians one of the most welcoming people in the world. Sicily is the land of diversity and acceptance and has always been a melting pot of different cultures.
Greeks and Romans are usually the Sicily inhabitants we first think of, but three original tribes called Sicani, Elymians and Sicels were the first arrivals after Sicily rose up out of the sea, and ancient writers thought they originated from Spain, mainland Italy and Greece.
The list of people who have invaded and/or settled in Sicily is surprisingly long. Here are a few names: Carthaginians, Phoenicians mixed with a few North African Berbers, Jews, Moors, Vikings, Ostrogoths, Swabians from what is now South Germany, Angevins from France, Aragonese from Spain and finally, Mainland Italians too.
Cannoli, Pistachio, Chocolate from Modica, Arancini, Scaccia and Granita are only a few examples of what I consider the only sin allowed in this beautiful island, for which you get home a couple of kilos heavier but certainly happier and inspired to start cooking yourself.
Sicily is also one of the oldest viticultural regions of Europe – don’t miss the chance to try the famous Marsala, Nero D’Avola and Moscato wines.
The Sicilian landscape is very diverse, characterised by rocky mountains, bays, beaches, cliffs, woods and many hills with grain, olive trees and vineyards. From the very dry Agrigento area to the shiny green flourishing Syracuse province, you feel like you are in a completely different region with only a few km away.
Among orange trees and prickly pear fields, you can also find unexpected natural canyons which hide extraordinary stories and memories. For example, did you know that Modica town was once the Venice of South of Italy? Rivers once ran down its valleys, lined with buildings, but after a terrible flood in 1902, when they burst their banks, they were covered over. Today the town’s main street, Corso Umberto I, follows the course of one of these rivers and around the town you can still find caves and canyons.
Because of its multicultural aspect, Sicily has many places rich in history and art. One of my favourite spots is the famous Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, which contains one of the greatest treasures of the Greek architecture and, for this reason, has been awarded the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The list of fascinating places for art lovers can continue almost endlessly in Sicily: from beautiful Catania with its elephant symbols and enchanting Noto town, with its thousands of Sicilian baroque style churches, to Palermo, home to a natural blend of Byzantine, Arabic and Norman elements that will take your breath away.
To experience the life of Sicilians, spend two weeks on the island…but be careful: don’t fall in love with Sicily or you will not leave this beautiful region.
If Michele's travel journal has inspired you to explore the beautiful island of Sicily, talk to one of our knowledgeable Europe travel designers who can help you plan your perfect trip.