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Sicily - Mediterranean Jewel
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Sicily (Sicilia)

When one thinks of Italy, one thinks of Rome, Milan, Florence and Venice.   All of these cities are beautiful in their own right; however, a visit to (the region of) Sicily should not be overlooked when considering a trip to Italy.  

Agrigento, Sicily in the spring time
Sicily is a mysterious mix of different people that have inhabited the island: Greeks, Romans, Phoenicians, Normans, Arabs, Spaniards, etc.   Everywhere on the island you can feel the legacy left behind by each of the prior inhabitants.   Sicily boasts some of the best Greek ruins, beautiful beaches, a rugged mountainous terrain, mild tropical climate and Europe's largest active volcano (Mt. Etna).  

A visit to Sicily would not be complete without a visit to its capital, Palermo.   Boisterous, chaotic, intense, loud and shocking, Palermo is definitely an interesting city.   With Mt. Pelligrino in the background and the Mediterranean Sea on the other side, it isn't long before you realize how beautiful the city is.   The best place to experience the city life of Palermo is to take a stroll down the "Vucceria," an outdoor street market where you find an abundance of olives, blood oranges, purple cauliflower, fresh fish, silk and leather goods, etc.   Palermo is also knows for its Norman and Baroque architecture and fine Sicilian cuisine.  

Along the northern coast, there are a few beach towns: San Vito lo Capo, whose white sandy beaches are still relatively unspoiled by tourism; Cefalu', once a fishing village, about an hour's drive east of Palermo; the Egadi islands off the coast of Trapani and the Aeolian islands off the northeast corner of the island, featuring the volcanic isle of Stromboli.  

On the East Coast of Sicily lies Taormina, a glitzy resort town.   With its flower-filled parks and streets, you actually feel as if you are in Switzerland.   From there, one can visit Mt. Etna, a majestic active volcano rising about 10,000 feet above the sea.   Syracuse, the ancient capital of Sicily, once even greater than Athens, has a beautiful archeological zone of Baroque splendor.  

On the southern side of the island lies Agrigento.   The "Valley of the Temples" is an archeological park with Greek ruins located south of the modern city.   Selinunte also has some wonderful Greek ruins.  

If you are looking for a vacation that is a little different and out of the ordinary, Sicily offers what the rest of Italy can: great food, great people and great art; but it offers it in a unique way that is distinctly Sicilian.

Useful links about Sicily

AutoEurope - specializes in European car rental, air and hotel reservations, and cellular telephone rentals

Palermo Hotels - great deals on hotels in Palermo and all over Sicily

Italy Rail Pass - the best way to get around Sicily and Italy

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