Sicily: Island of Beauty, Crossroads of Civilizations & Gourmet Paradise
Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of Italy’s twenty regions… though calling Sicily ‘an Italian region’ is a little like calling the sun a hot, yellow disc. The fact is, the onetime Trinacria is a world unto itself. Its mystique and magic need to be seen to be believed – seen, breathed, and tasted. ‘La Sicilia’ is a feast of colors, scents and sensations that, once experienced, can never be forgotten.
Sicilian culinary traditions are just as fascinating and diverse; the legacy of manifold civilizations: the vineyards and olive groves of the ancient Greeks, the Arabs’ genius for spices and sweet-and-sour nuances; the Normans’ prowess in salting food; the Spaniards’ sultry, vibrant dishes, and more. A kaleidoscope of flavors, textures and aromas you will find nowhere else on the planet.
Those fortunate enough to visit will cherish memories more sensory and intense than any they have come across. The luckier ones still – Sicilian natives – will carry the island’s unique blend of fiery whimsy and earthy sensuousness wherever life takes them.
Where to Go in Sicily
The French call it “embarras de richesses”: such abundance of all that’s great and good and beautiful, it can make your head spin, and renders picking one area of the island over another the hardest of choices. Sicily features such diverse terrains as the UNESCO-listed, head-trained bush vines of the Phoenicians in Pantelleria, or the likewise UNESCO-listed Arab-Norman buildings of Palermo; the lavic slopes of the Etna volcano; vast expanses of vines, citrus and olive groves in the plain; high, jagged coastlines and low, sandy shores.
Nature has sculpted Sicily’s every nook and cranny to match its breath-taking, man-made architecture harking back to the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Ostrogoths, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Angevins, Aragonese, Bourbons etc. It is no wonder that countless poets, playwrights and writers have found inspiration under the Sicilian sun. Natives like Theocritus, Giovanni Verga, Tomasi di Lampedusa, Pirandello, Vittorini, Sciascia, Brancati, Quasimodo or Andrea Camilleri. Foreigners like Goethe, Guy de Maupassant, Truman Capote or Lawrence Durrell.
What to See in Sicily
French writer Guy de Maupassant compared Sicily to “an ardently desired beauty”, successively conquered by populations that “peppered the island with the most diverse architectural masterpieces that blend, in the most charming and unexpected manner, contradictory styles and designs”. How can we pick and choose among them? Rest assured the entire region – every one of its 9,927 square miles, nearly the size of Massachusetts – is absolute heaven to the art lover as to the gourmet, the nature lover as to the classicist in search of some of the most perfect and complete examples of ancient Greek architecture, set against breathtakingly beautiful natural backdrops: the Greek Theater of Taormina, the Naxos Gardens and the Valley of the Temples near Agrigento, for instance.
Also unmissable are the UNESCO-listed Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto: Caltagirone, Militello Val di Catania, Catania, Modica, Noto, Palazzolo, Ragusa and Scicli. All of these were rebuilt after an earthquake in 1693, and showcase the spectacular style known as “Sicilian Baroque”. Other Sicilian gems are the fisherman’s village of Marzamemi, seemingly suspended in time and steeped in natural beauty; or the otherworldly scenery round the Etna volcano, and the fortresses and castles dotted throughout the island – e.g. near Agrigento, Catania, Enna, Messina, Palermo, Ragusa, Siracusa, Trapani… Last but not least, a literary treat: if you’re ever in the Catania area, do visit Aci Trezza’s “House by the Medlar Tree”, the setting for the eponymous novel by Giovanni Verga.
What to Eat in Sicily
Sicily’s stunning array of local specialties and ingredients is the outcome of its multi-cultural heritage. Heart of the Mediterranean and crossroads of civilizations, the many strains of fascinating, distant culinary traditions have fused and coalesced into one under the white-hot Sicilian sun.
We cannot neglect to mention delicacies like Capers from Pantelleria, Noto Almonds, Sea Salt Crystals from Trapani, Bronte Pistachios, Modica Chocolate, Cannoli, Cassata, Granita, Arancino aka Arancina, and eggplant and bell pepper Caponata, just to name a few of the countless, scrumptious Sicilian classics.
Why not swing by and savor the magic of Sicily? You don’t even need a passport. All it takes is Ventuno Italy and a box. You will find a generous serving of Sicilian history, scenery and culture ready for tasting, sipping and viewing in our Sicilian Experience Boxes, lovingly selected and assembled for you by a Sicilian native.