How to organize it
Sicily is one of the most charming Italian region, full of things to discover: beautiful landscapes, untouched nature, art, tradition and its welcoming and funny locals.
To fully understand this land, it is needed to know that some of the most powerful kinds in history have conquered it: Greeks, Greci, Carthaginians, Normans, Spanish and Moor reigned here in different times.
Each of these cultures left a bit of its identity, contributing to make Sicily a historical-cultural patchwork.
To visit it entirely in a short time would be impossible, as the marvels to admire are endless.
Hence, I advise you to start with a 6-days tour in its western part, as you won’t be disappointed and you will be able to visit some of its most beautiful cities.
Let’s start from Palermo, the capital and biggest Sicilian city, dedicating to it 3 intense and incredible days.
You can easily reach it by plane, landing on “Falcone e Borsellino” airport.
In summer, don’t forget to spend some time at Mondello beach, a gorgeous and unforgettable spot to enjoy the sun and crystal water.
The city summarises many centuries of history and is unique thanks to the Norman, baroque and Arab architecture mix.
Have a walk by foot and discover it slowly, admiring the wonderful historical buildings.
These are my must-see suggestions:
● Local markets: Vucciria is the best known and the oldest, but don’t miss also Ballarò, il Capo, il Mercato delle Pulci and Lattarini. It will be very folkloric to listen to the dialect talks of the fruit, fish and meat sellers;
● Zisa Palace: built in the XII century, it is one of the few arab buildings still existing in Palermo;
● Monreale Cathedral: a wonderful example of byzantine art;
● Santa Rosalia Sanctuary: located at the top of the Mount Pellegrino, it is dedicated to the city protector. If you enjoy walking, you could get up to the top, but keep in mind the road is an uphill so if you tend to get tired fast, using
a car would be advisable;
● The Dome: located in the city centre, it is very suggestive. It is also called the Metropolitan Cathedral, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and it is UNESCO World Heritage since 2015;
● Massimo theatre: the third biggest after Paris and Wien Opera theatres, it has one of the most impressive facades in Europe;
● Normans Palace, from IX century: the most ancient royal residence in Europe. It was once the seat of Sicily sovereigns and of the imperors Frederick the II and Corrado the IV. It is a UNESCO site too;
● The botanical garden: a wide natural area hosting unusual flora, such as the giant Ficus Macrophylla;
● The city centre: a vibrant oasis to enjoy the local food.
After 3 days in Palermo, the fourth day will be dedicated to two Sicilian gems: San Vito lo Capo and Erice.
San Vito lo Capo is a small city in Trapani province, and its highlights are with no doubt the beaches.
In September, it hosts a big Cous Cous festival, with many different recipes and loads of tourists to try the food and enjoy the seaside.
The second step is the beautiful medieval town of Erice, where you could spend the night in one of the typical B&B to visit, the day after, this impressive village at 751 meters height above sea level.
The main attraction is the castle, from where it is possible to admire the gorgeous view of San Vito lo Capo peninsula.
On the other side of the village, the landscape includes the windmills and the saltpans of Marsala.
You will fall in love with this medieval town, which will bring you back in time.
The fifth day you could move in Marsala area, to visit the saltpans and the natural reserve of Stagnone islands.
This lagoon covers the sea area from San Teodoro to Boeo.
It is a unique land, with the so-called “sea road” including the four islands (San Pantaleo, Isola Grande, Schola and Santa Maria) and the coast salt pans of San Teodoro, Genna and Ettore Infersa.
Enjoy the experience and the activities inside those locations, visiting also the windmill of Infersa and the multimedia museum.
In the afternoon, you could move to reach one of the best spots in the region: the archaeological park of Selinunte.
Selinunte was an ancient Greek city, located on the south-west coast of Sicily: today it is the biggest archaeological park in Europe.
Here traces of a Greek city from 4000 years ago have been found.
In the first area of the park, you will find the western hill and three temples to admire, named E, F and G.
As they did not know exactly to which gods they were dedicated, archaeologists have chosen the easiest way to name and identify them: the alphabet letters.
You may need a bit of imagination to guess how the temples F and G were looking; on the contrary, the E one resisted pretty good to the time flow.
It is the second biggest temple in Selinunte, with 6 front columns and 15 on the long sides.
The second area of the park is divided in 3 sections:
1. The acropolis, which was hosting many temples, plus a shopping area;
2. Manuzza hill, to admire the ancient city’s ruins and its huge fortified fences;
3. Gàggera hill, where Demeter Malophoros’ sanctuary, the fertility goddess, is located.
In the same area, don’t miss also Zeus and Hecate’s sanctuaries and Manicalunga
Visit Agrigento the sixth and last day of this tour: it is famous for its Temple Valley, the Scala dei Turchi (“Turks’ stair”) and the natural reserve of Torre Salsa.
Truth is that the list of things to see in Agrigento and beyond is endless, and all of
them are unforgettable:
1. The Temples’ Valley, with its 8 temples, is UNESCO’s Heritage;
2. The regional archaeological museum, located on a hill of the temples’ valley, hosts a collection of artefacts from the site itself;
3. The downtown: go there to have a walk through the cobblestones streets admiring churches and historical buildings such as the Holy Spirit monastery, San Gerlando cathedral, Santa Maria dei Greci church and the bishop’s palace;
4. La Scala dei Turchi, located in the west side of Agrigento, in the city of Realmonte, is a white limestone cliff in which the sea and the winds have dug natural stairs to the sea. The contrast between the white of the cliff and the turquoise of the sea waters is impressive and delights photographers and turists;
5. Capo Rosso, in Realmonte, a beautiful sand beach;
6. Torre Salsa natural reserve, another charming beach covering several hundred of meters, perfect to swim in calm and not so deep waters;
7. Eraclea Minoa, to add to the list of the beautiful beaches, on the coast after Torre Salsa. Its main feature is the pine grove surrounding it and offering some shadow to relax. This beach is part of an archaeological site including a theatre and the city ruins too, but unfortunately they are covered with wide sheets and it is not possible to see much;
8. Sciacca, next to Eraclea Minoa beach, mostly famous for its thermal baths, including the 56 degrees mud bath and a steam bath in the natural caves of San Calogero;
9. Punta Bianca Natural Reserve, not very known by tourists, but with a wonderful coast. From here, you could visit the Montechiaro Castle, worth a visit and located next to the sea;
10. Farm Cultural Park, an unusual way to live Agrigento. If you love modern art, a nice surprise is awaiting in the small city of Favara, 20 minutes from Agrigento: The Farm Cultural Park, an outdoor cultural centre occupying a part of the city.
Agrigento ends our 6-days Sicilian tour: don’t hesitate to contact me to book it.
I hope I have given you interesting ideas to visit some of the unmissable places in Sicily.