The island of Sicily is a must when exploring the beautiful wonders of Italy. Here are a few top places to see on your Sicilian getaway.
When most people travel to the beautiful country of Italy, Rome, Venice and the northern Tuscan region are amongst the most popular places they visit. But what they’re missing out on is the beautiful countryside and hidden paradise wonders that Italy’s most southern island has to offer.
From thousand-year-old ruins to delicious food to beautiful beaches from coast to coast—the island of Sicily is a must when traveling to Italy.
Here are a few tips of where to go and sites to see when visiting this uniquely beautiful natural wonder, which I’ve recently experienced. They include, San Vito Lo Capo, Scopello, Erice, Favignana, Selinunte, Scala dei Turchi, Taormina, Le Gole All’Cantara, and Giardini Naxos.
San Vito Lo Capo
This spot is a gem that most tourists don’t often frequent enough. San Vito Lo Capo is a charming coastal town in the northwest tip of the island that has a crystal blue beach. Extending below Mount Cofano, a high pointed limestone cliff visible from a distance, it’s a small town that is situated directly on the sea so no matter where you stay in the area, the beach is only minutes away.
Scopello is a small hamlet near San Vito Lo Capo that should be on your hit list of mini paradise destinations. This charming place was built around an 18th-century baglio (manor house) fortified with a high wall and huge gates, and its little town of white houses and old stone streets make you feel like you’re in an old movie. In fact, Ocean’s Twelve was filmed here. It has a famous Tonnara (tuna processing plant) and a magical cove called Spiaggia dei Faraglioni that you must seek out.
Known as the oldest town in Sicily, Erice (pronounced Eh-ree-shay) is a remarkably well-preserved medieval town that sits about 750 meters about sea level. It is located on a mountain overlooking the Tyrrhenian coast of western Sicily surrounded by a lush park. The hilltop castles alone are worth a stop in Erice, which offers charming old stone streets and medieval churches. You can access this mountain top city through the city of Trapani by a lift that gives you a remarkable view of the coast and landscape on the way up. Once there, you will marvel at the old architecture, quaint shops and breathtaking views.
Favignana is the largest of the three principal Egadi Islands including Levanzo (seen in last photo) and Marettimo. You can catch a ferry from the cities of Trapani or Marsala. The island is famous for its caves of calcarenite rock and the ancient tuna fishing facility. Because the island consists mainly of rocks, there are few beaches on the island; however, it is a popular site for excursions where boats allow you to jump in the glorious mediterranean waters. Many local Italians and tourists who vacation here often rent bikes to tour around its beautiful coast. There’s also a small quaint town on the island where you can stop to cool off with some gelato, have lunch and buy souvenirs. You can also book a ferry that tours all three islands.
The Ancient Ruins of Selinunte
Selinunte is home to one of the most impressive Greek archaeological site. The ruins of Selinunte (pronounced Sell-y-noon-ti) rank among the most impressive and captivating archaeological sites in
Selinos (as it was known to the Greeks) was once one of the richest and most powerful cities in the world, with over 100,000 inhabitants and an unrivalled temple-building abilities. It is situated by the Mediterranean sea in the south-western corner of Sicily where the isolated ruins have stood abandoned for thousands of years.
Scala dei Turchi
Known as “Stairs of the Turks,” this natural-forming wonder is simply breathtaking. The curving white walls of Scala dei Turchi, off the eastern coast of Realmonte, form an exceptionally large staircase-shaped, chalky white cliff reflecting the light of the sun and enhancing the blue of the sea. Carved by wind and sea, this marlstone cliff leads to a fine sandy beach where visitors are seen plastering the wet, salty sand on their bodies. The historical name comes from the time when Turkish and Barbary Coast pirates would climb the steps on plundering raids.
Surrounded by views of Mount Etna and the Ionian Sea, this famous east coast, hilltop resort town has an abundance of charm and beauty. Taormina, which is rich is history, has been the most popular tourist destination in Sicily for hundreds of years with tourists and celebrities alike. It’s an immaculate town that has beautifully restored medieval buildings, breathtaking sea views and quaint winding streets with shops, bars and restaurants on every corner.
Le Gole dell’Alcantara
Just about an hour drive away from Taormina lies Gole Dell’Alcantara geological park. You can cool off in the river’s beautiful gorge created by the eruptions of the grand Mount Etna, a nearby volcano. You can also experience the magnificent rock formations that surround the river that were once uniquely carved by the heat of the lava.
Giardini Naxos is a popular town and resort situated just south of Taormina on the north-eastern coast of Sicily. It is a popular area for tourists seeking to experience both culture and beach life, which is cheaper than its famous neighbour, Taormina.
Whether you travel from the east coast to the west coast (the drive takes about four hours from east to west) Sicily not only has amazing food to offer (think fresh fish, pasta, pizza, gelato and cannolis), it also serves up some of the most historical sites in history and medieval towns one can witness. It’s simply a breathtaking experience you won’t ever forget.
—by Toni-Marie Ippolito