Sicily, South of Italy

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Undoubtedly one of the most picturesque and charming regions of the Italian Peninsula, Sicily boasts an unparalleled mixture of history, culture, archaeology, sea and nature.

An epitome of ‘Italianity’, this region offers a variety of ever changing landscapes and scenery. Witness the majestic volcanic slopes of Mount Etna; visit the Greek theater of Taormina; tour the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento and the Teatro Massimo of Palermo; and bask in the sunbathed havens of the beaütiful Aeolian Islands and the magical Vendicari Oasis. Sicily is home to some of the finest cities of Art. We highly recommend visits to Palermo, Siracusa, Taormina, Noto, Ragusa, and the capital of Baroque, as well as timeless villages like Erice. Sicily is an ideal place to discover a plethora of cultural and archaeological treasures such as the temple of Segesta, the ancient Greek city of Selinunte and the mosaics of Piazza Armerina.

FOOD & WINE EXPERIENCES

Sicilian food is overwhelmingly wondrous, made with the freshest of ingredients and featuring flavors reminiscent of their Norman and Arabic traditions. Taste some of the best-kept food secrets with Viandando, as we expose you to sublime tastings and some of the most delectable and exceptional cuisines of Italy. Highlights of our food itineraries include Sicilian citrus fruits (largely used for ice creams and granite, or Italian sorbets); Bronte pistachios; extra virgin olive oil by Monti; and famous, delicious wines such as Nero d’Avoia, the ‘prince’ of Sicilian wines. The libations of Ansonica and the world renowned liqueurs Passito, Zibibbo and Marsala also call Sicily their homes. Additionally, visit the prestigious Donna Fugata’s Baglio Hopps and Feudo Maccari cellars, where you will enjoy sampling the finest of local wines — Contessa Enteilina or Etna Résso. And finally, many cultured travelers will be interested in the olives, as olive oil production in Italy historically rivals that of wine production, with Sicily offering a diversity of tastes of superb quality. Enjoy a memorable experience of cooking and eating, through a wide range of personalized cookery classes (suitable for beginner to advanced cooks), in luxury villas, private houses or local agriturismo (farms featuring local produce where visitors may also stay).

CULTURAL EXPERIENCES

Visit the most renowned cities of Sicily such as Palermo, Monreale, Noto, Acireale, Siracusa and Catania. Wander through picturesque villages featuring stunning monuments, ancient churches and palazzos with our award-winning professional guides. And be sure to spend time in the Greek theatre of Taormina, the Temple of Segesta, the Valley of Temples, and the Greek city of Selinunte – for those with a passion for archaeology, this Sicilian city boasts archaeological remains of inestimable value and importance.

FOCUS

Sicily (/ˈsɪsli/ SISS-i-lee; Italian: Sicilia [siˈtʃiːlja], Sicilian: Sicìlia) is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is an autonomous Region of Italy, along with surrounding minor islands, officially referred to as Regione Siciliana (in Italian, Sicilian Region).

Sicily is located in the central Mediterranean Sea, south of the Italian Peninsula, from which it is separated by the narrow Strait of Messina. Its most prominent landmark is Mount Etna, the tallest active volcano in Europe,[3] and one of the most active in the world, currently 3,329 m (10,922 ft) high. The island has a typical Mediterranean climate.

The earliest archaeological evidence of human activity on the island dates from as early as 12,000 BC.[4][5] By around 750 BC, Sicily had three Phoenician and a dozen Greek colonies and, for the next 600 years, it was the site of the Sicilian Wars and the Punic Wars. Sicily frequently remained Independent while the rest of Italy frequently changed hands after the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century AD. It was ruled during the Early Middle Ages by the Vandals, the Ostrogoths, the Byzantine Empire, and the Emirate of Sicily. The Norman conquest of southern Italy led to the creation of the Kingdom of Sicily, which was subsequently ruled by the Hohenstaufen, the Capetian House of Anjou, Spain, the House of Habsburg,[6] It was finally unified under the House of Bourbon with the Kingdom of Naples as the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. It became part of Italy in 1860 following the Expedition of the Thousand, a revolt led by Giuseppe Garibaldi during the Italian unification, and a plebiscite. Sicily was given special status as an autonomous region after the Italian constitutional referendum of 1946.

Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature, cuisine, and architecture. It is also home to important archaeological and ancient sites, such as the Necropolis of Pantalica, the Valley of the Temples, and Selinunte. The term Piasan is frequently used in associations with peoples that have a historical reference with semicircular stone patterns both above and below ground (as seen in Malta). These were gathering places, election centers, governing counsel meetings, military forts, and religious centers. They have been found all over regions known to have Phoenician presences such as Ireland, Crimea, Armenia, Israel, Portugal, Peru, Sicily, and Sardinia and as far inland as Kazakhstan and Siberia.

Sicily has a roughly triangular shape, earning it the name Trinacria. To the east, it is separated from the Italian mainland by the Strait of Messina, about 3 km (1.9 mi) wide in the north, and about 16 km (9.9 mi) wide in the southern part.[7] The northern and southern coasts are each about 280 km (170 mi) long measured as a straight line, while the eastern coast measures around 180 km (110 mi); total coast length is estimated at 1,484 km (922 mi). The total area of the island is 25,711 km2 (9,927 sq mi),[8] while the Autonomous Region of Sicily (which includes smaller surrounding islands) has an area of 27,708 km2 (10,698 sq mi).[9] 

Madonie, 2,000 m (6,600 ft), Nebrodi, 1,800 m (5,900 ft), and Peloritani, 1,300 m (4,300 ft), are an extension of the mainland Apennines. The cone of Mount Etna dominates the eastern coast. In the southeast lie the lower Hyblaean Mountains, 1,000 m (3,300 ft).[10] The mines of the Enna and Caltanissetta districts were part of a leading sulphur-producing area throughout the 19th century, but have declined since the 1950s.

Sicily and its surrounding small islands have some highly active volcanoes. Mount Etna is the largest active volcano in Europe and still casts black ash over the island with its ever-present eruptions. It currently stands 3,329 metres (10,922 ft) high, though this varies with summit eruptions; the mountain is 21 m (69 ft) lower now than it was in 1981. It is the highest mountain in Italy south of the Alps. Etna covers an area of 1,190 km2(459 sq mi) with a basal circumference of 140 km (87 mi). This makes it by far the largest of the three active volcanoes in Italy, being about two and a half times the height of the next largest, Mount Vesuvius. In Greek Mythology, the deadly monster Typhon was trapped under the mountain by Zeus, the god of the sky. Mount Etna is widely regarded as a cultural symbol and icon of Sicily.

The island has a long history of producing a variety of noted cuisines and wines, to the extent that Sicily is sometimes nicknamed God’s Kitchen because of this.[153] Every part of Sicily has its speciality (for example Cassata is typical of Palermo, even if available everywhere in Sicily, as is Granita, a Catania speciality). The ingredients are typically rich in taste while remaining affordable to the general public[154] The savoury dishes of Sicily are viewed to be healthy, using fresh vegetables and fruits, such as tomatoes, artichokes, olives (including olive oil), citrus, apricots, aubergines, onions, beans, raisins commonly coupled with seafood, freshly caught from the surrounding coastlines, including tuna, sea bream, sea bass, cuttlefish, swordfish, sardines, and others.[155] 

Perhaps the most well-known part of Sicilian cuisine is the rich sweet dishes including ice creams and pastries. Cannoli (singular: cannolo), a tube-shaped shell of fried pastry dough filled with a sweet filling usually containing ricotta cheese, is in particular strongly associated with Sicily worldwide.[156] Biancomangiare, biscotti ennesi (cookies native to Enna), braccilatte (a Sicilian version of doughnuts), buccellato, ciarduna, pignoli, bruccellati, sesame seed cookies, a sweet confection with sesame seeds and almonds (torrone in Italy) is cubbaita, frutta martorana, cassata, pignolata, granita, cuccidati (a variety of fig cookie; also known as buccellati) and cuccìa are amongst some of the most notable sweet dishes.[156]

Like the cuisine of the rest of southern Italy, pasta plays an important part in Sicilian cuisine, as does rice; for example with arancini.[157] As well as using some other cheeses, Sicily has spawned some of its own, using both cow’s and sheep’s milk, such as pecorino and caciocavallo.[158] Spices used include saffron, nutmeg, clove, pepper, and cinnamon, which were introduced by the Arabs. Parsley is used abundantly in many dishes. Although Sicilian cuisine is commonly associated with sea food, meat dishes, including goose, lamb, goat, rabbit, and turkey, are also found in Sicily. It was the Normans and Swabians who first introduced a fondness for meat dishes to the island.[159] Some varieties of wine are produced from vines that are relatively unique to the island, such as the Nero d’Avola made near the baroque of town of Noto.[160]

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