From Mount Etna by mountain bike to walks along the vineyards of Mazara del Vallo, Sicily is the perfect combination of foodie, artsy and wine experiences to fill up your sailing holiday.
Sicily is a truly mesmerizing island in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea with its multitude of idyllic beaches, seaside villages, or perched on scenic rocks. Travelling around Sicily means undertake more than one journey, whether it be an outdoor adventure, a relaxing seaside getaway, or an immersion in the age-old culture of the cities of art.
Discover Sicily, a journey full of experiences
With so much scenic diversity, countless wonders and authentic experiences in a single region that don't leave out a single square kilometre, drawing up a single travel itinerary is a daunting task.
From sunset boat tours to horseback riding in ancient abbeys or gorges, cooking classes with tours of historic markets, from discovering flamingos and salt pans to cycling or walking tours through citrus groves, olive groves and dozens of nature reserves.
Without forgetting the unique sea to dive for snorkelling or guided diving: Sicily has something for everyone.
Local farmer in a vine yard near Enna
Between Palermo and Syracuse: What to see
Starting with history, Sicily has been the cradle of Phoenician, Carthaginian, Greek and Roman culture. The multicultural past is still tangible today in cities such as Palermo, the Norman jewel in the Mediterranean, and Syracuse with its Ortigia, a labyrinth of narrow streets overlooking the sea leading to Greek ruins in the historic centre. These are the ideal starting points for an exciting trip.
But Sicily is not just about the past.
Visit Palermo to feel the cultural ferment and discover street art or international events. Get on a bike until you reach the heart of the countryside and touch the citrus groves. Take a walk among the monuments of the historic centre narrated by those who say "no" to illegality, for a journey beyond stereotypes.
In Syracuse, you will meet young fishermen ready to conquer the seas in the company of adventurous guests, and walk through nature reserves, such as the Pillirina, among war remains and legendary ancient caves just a stone's throw from the centre.
The pink flabellina is a nudibranch of the Flabellinidae family, Aci Trezza Sicilian east coast
Travelling in Sicily: Lesser-known itineraries
And it is when you leave the most well-known destinations behind that you will fall even more in love with this land. You will find jewel-like villages such as Erice, the medieval town that, from its mountaintop, enjoys the most splendid views of the Gulf of San Vito Lo Capo, the Egadi Islands and the salt pans of Trapani, which are also worth visiting, especially at sunset.
San Vito, Scopello and Castellammare hand down the deep bond between man and the element of water. Get to know the life of the local fishermen, a quieter Sicily, in line with the rhythm of the extraordinary Zingaro Natural Reserve, Sicily's first nature reserve, to be visited by sailboat or catamaran to dive into the quietest coves and spot ancient tuna fisheries in one of the most beautiful promontories in the world.
Riserva dello Zingaro, San Vito Lo Capo in Sicily
And if we are talking about long coastlines and breathtaking landscapes, we cannot forget the towns of Santa Flavia and Cefalù. With its tiny houses overlooking the crystal-clear sea, the Norman cathedral and the scenic Rocca, Cefalù looks as if it has just come out of a painting. This is also the starting point for the bright green brushstrokes of the Madonie Reserve, Sicily's lungs, one could say. Among canyons, ancient abbeys and vineyards, you can discover by jeep some of Italy's most picturesque mountain villages, such as Castelbuono and Petralia Soprana, along with ancient transhumance routes. There are unmissable horseback rides through vineyards or the canyons of the Pollina River for those who enjoy slow tourism.
Piazza Duomo, Cefalù
The great Etna, the guardian of the island, will work like a magnet as soon as you set foot on the east coast. Walking along the lava paths of Mount Etna punctuated by rare vegetation will remind you of the otherworldly beauty of this land, which, seen from the top of its summit craters, is even more spectacular.
Noto, Ragusa and Modica signal the entrance to another fascinating world, that of Sicilian baroque. In the historic centres made up of "ups and downs", time slows down, marked by the sun shining on the monuments and the details of the facades of the historic buildings, unique in the world, to end with a tasting of cold-worked chocolate, wine with a view or typical cheeses in a typical village shop.
The Baroque city of Ragusa
Nature is also exceptional in this Sicily. The breathtaking sea of the Plemmirio Marine Reserve invites you to dive in search of colourful fish and the cargoes of ancient ships. While on land, the Vendicari and Priolo reserves are ideal for those who love walks in the wilderness close to the sea, discovering the rare pink flamingos and other animal species or in the cliffs, where you can experience the thrill of climbing.
Eating in Sicily
A trip to Sicily is also for those who love good food made from local ingredients such as citrus fruits, tuna, pistachios, ricotta cheese, almonds, saffron, chocolate and recipes handed down from generation to generation. In the colourful street markets of Syracuse, Catania and Palermo you will find the true sense of street life and sharing.
Sicilian pistachios are key ingredients of the famous Sicilian patisserie
A feast for all the senses to be concluded with a Sicilian cookery lesson, lunch amidst stories of the city and regional wine tastings.
These and other experiences to discover the essence of Sicily are available on the Wonderful Italy website, the first Italian network of authentic homes and experiences in unusual places.