From historic architecture to stunning coastlines and epic volcanoes, the picturesque Italian region of Sicily is a treat for the senses for any visitors. Huw Beaugie, owner of Sicily holidays specialist villa agency Think Sicily, lived on the island for over 10 years. Here he has picked some of his favourite activities in the region to showcase the unique and often remarkable elements of this beautiful area.
Delights of the capital
“One of the best places to start is the Sicilian capital Palermo. It’s over 2,700 years old and is filled with countless historical delights. My top recommendation would be Palermo cathedral, with its varied architectural styles due to the many alterations and restorations it has undergone. Palazzo dei Normani is another great sight, one of the most beautiful Italian palaces and a beautiful example of Norman architecture. Inside is the famous Cappella Palatina (Palatine Chapel), which was constructed in 1080 and is intricately decorated with mosaics and fine art.”
“It’s fair to say that no trip to Sicily is complete without a trip to Mount Etna on the east coast of Sicily, and you can walk on its slopes, ski on it in winter or even ride a cable car or 4×4 to its fiery peak. The views from the top are stunning and showcase the incredible surrounding landscapes. Thanks to the fertile volcanic soil there are many beautiful vineyards and orchards spread across the lower slopes of the mountain, making it a lovely spot to explore the Sicilian countryside.”
Take a walk on the wild side
“Sicily remains a walker’s paradise, particularly during the cooler spring and autumn months. There is a huge range of hiking routes to enjoy throughout the region, particularly in the lush National Parks.
“One of my favourite wonderful walks can be found on Vulcano, one of the most popular offshore Aeolian islands. Its star attraction is the dormant volcano Gran Cratere, which offers a well-trodden three hours walk from base to peak, and affords hikers spectacular views of the surrounding islands.”
“Sicily is home to some of Italy’s most beautiful beaches, with azure, clear waters, exciting coves and soft sandy beaches.
“Renowned for its quiet and relaxing nature, Porto Palo di Menfi beach in the south-west of the island regularly receives the highest award possible in Italy for its quality, services and cleanliness. With its mix of bars and restaurants, the nearby marina is nearby gives visitors the opportunity to watch the many boats coming with a drink and some excellent Sicilian food.”
Back to nature
“West of Palermo, the coastline becomes slightly more rugged, rocky and, in places, spectacular. Part of the coastline in question is home to Lo Zingaro Nature Reserve. Stretching along the coast for 7km this park and its surrounding areas are one of the most beautiful parts of western Sicily. There is a vast array of flora especially suited to the terrain thanks to the humid microclimate which makes it possible for over 650 different species to thrive here. Dwarf palms and other shrubs line most of the paths, while in the spring the grass of the slopes is dotted with thousands of colourful wild flowers – a glorious sight!”
Think Sicily can arrange for anyone staying at one of their villas to have the services of professional guides who can provide fascinating insights into the various regions, as well as years of experience on the best walking routes, tourist attractions and safety advice.