Situated on the eastern coast of Sicily and sat at the foot of Mount Etna, this town offers a lot for everyone. Due to a huge volcanic eruption in 1669, which lasted for four months, most of the old town was destroyed. After this calamity, it took a long time to rebuild everything, but thanks to the stamina and determination of the locals, Catania is in bloom once more.
The capital of Sicily, this majestic town boasts many grand sites which are well worth a visit. Have a look at the cathedral (which was a Muslim mosque before becoming a Christian church), Palazzo dei Normanni (among the most beautiful palazzos in Italy) and Palazzo Abatellis, the city’s gallery for starters. The Museo Archeologico Regionale, botanic gardens and the Catacombs are also worth exploring. Don’t ignore the great restaurants and the amazing street food culture for which Palermo is rightly famed too.
As with pretty much everywhere in Sicily, you’ll find relics of the past round every corner in Siracusa. Founded by the Greeks, this town nurtured many of the famous Greek poets, mathematicians and politicians. The Greek Theater here was the biggest that the Greeks ever constructed, but the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Fountain of Arethusa, or the more modern cathedral, Castello Maniace and the many palazzos deserve a visit too.
This picturesque town lies on a rocky hillside and is accessible by car or bus; the road leads up on a steep and narrow serpentine hill, which can sometimes be quite tricky to navigate. It is well worth a visit if you long for a small town offering a little peace and quiet yet also wish to catch a glimpse of the rich historical heritage which Sicily has to offer including its spectacular ancient amphitheater.
Agrigento is well known for Greek ruins such as the Temple of Juno, Hephaestus, Heracles, and Asclepius. It was once a wealthy town due its trading bonds with Greece; small wonder then that so many amazing Greek temples are to be found here. Some of them were sadly used as quarries, but most of them are still in very good condition.
If you arrive from the Italian mainland, the ferry will drop you off in Messina. The first moments are impressive; huge trees surround the roads and as far as you can see there are orange, lemon and olive groves on the slopes. Stop for a look at the cathedral or the church of Annunziata, the Botanical Gardens and the lovely Porta Grazia.
This city is among the most popular places in Sicily. There is a wonderful family friendly seaside area where you can relax surrounded by locals’ houses and terraces. You can also visit the Roman baths or the ancient Cathedral, where there is a world-class fresco of Christ, the Christus Pantokrator. If you don’t like crowds but would like to visit Cefalù, try to go around October-November or in spring; the weather is lovely and still warm, but there are hardly any tourists.