"Sicilia - more than another island" Top 5 Page for this destination Sicilia by iandsmith

Sicilia Travel Guide: 2,527 reviews and 7,491 photos

Thoughts on an island

Sicilia, it almost seems like a land that time is passing by in some places. Tradition is strong in rural areas but industry's pervasive atmosphere is overpowering in places like Catania.
Much of the countryside is truly beautiful but sections of some cities are downright ugly.
Unquestionably it is poorer in material wealth than the north of Italy, a fact resented by many on this historic isle.
History is omnipresent covering an array of civilizations, though Greek, Roman, Norman and Byzantine influences are strongest in terms of remains but its proximity to Africa has always had an influence on the place.
Pollution in places, as in the rest of Europe, but particularly Italy, is a problem. Seeing piles of rubbish at the bottom of a cliff or cluttering a tourist beach does not endear one to wax lyrical about some sites yet others are sublime and I use this photo as an example.
The Greek remains are great in some places and this theatre at Segesta in Western Sicily is a prime example. Set, as many Greek theatres are, in a stunning location, it epitomises both the history and scenic beauty of the island called Sicilia.

Number one

According to most sources, this is the number one thing to see in Sicily. I have to say that after two hours' drive to get about 30 kilometres to get there I was entitled to be in a less-than-celubrious mood yet Monreale still impressed.
In the central apse is the figure of Christ Pantokrator (All Powerful) and to give you some scale there is someone's head just visible at the bottom of the photo.
More on this cathedral in the general pages.
This, and other Norman remains, are some of the undoubted highlights of your Sicilian sojourn.
Though only lasting 67 years, their rule over the island was significant in that, rather than conquering the split community of Greeks and Moors, Roger II melded them together in a political masterstroke that allowed Sicily to fulfill its potential while the rest of Italy was in turmoil.
He realised he didn't have the forces to take them in battle so he talked them into accepting the Norman overlords.
This edifice clearly reflects the melding of cultures with the Moorish wooden ceilings but the clearly Byzantine decorations.
William II, the last of the four Norman rulers, is interred here.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Pretty countryside, splendid small towns, historical remains.
  • Cons:Pollution, driving.
  • In a nutshell:I'd go again but avoid the major towns.
  • Last visit to Sicilia: Apr 2003
  • Intro Updated Apr 17, 2005
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Reviews (37)

Comments (45)

  • ludogatto's Profile Photo
    Dec 10, 2009 at 3:25 AM

    WE have to visit the south Italy, it's wonderful, charming, warm, colorfull, great food, people and I fell free! 20 days in sept in Eolie Islands ( Alicudi, Filicudi, Salina) and 4 days in nov back in my loved Palermo to eat, eat and enjoy the life!

  • MikeBird's Profile Photo
    Apr 24, 2009 at 2:49 PM

    Ian, Some really excellent, useful tips here which I've enjoyed reading. Pity we have to wait until Christmas before we go. Lots of time left for planning. Thanks for sharing, Mike

  • Beausoleil's Profile Photo
    Aug 20, 2008 at 4:14 PM

    Love your Sicily Travel Pages! You will be happy to know that one more temple at Selinunte is being restored. I have charming photos of the scaffolding covering it.

  • peterdhduncan's Profile Photo
    May 20, 2008 at 5:22 AM

    We are also booked in for June! Thanks for your tips. Peter.

  • TheWanderingCamel's Profile Photo
    Apr 10, 2008 at 2:38 AM

    Flights are boked, hotels too - now I just have to wait until June before hitting the streets of Siracusa, Palermo, etc. Loved this page - a great taste of things to come. leyle

  • sachara's Profile Photo
    May 7, 2007 at 3:00 PM

    Ian, very interesting and inviting page. Sicilia is on my wishlist allready for a long time.

  • Mar 4, 2007 at 5:06 PM

    ha- i remember the "vespa bandits". totally true story- happened to a friend of mine and his wife was scarred from broken glass. horrible incident...

  • paulapes's Profile Photo
    Oct 2, 2006 at 5:38 PM

    LOVE your pages Ian! Especially the "Let the Madness Begin" section about driving in Sicily in your Travelogues--made me laugh! But I've got to tell you, the driving and lack of rules aren't much different from Rome to Paestum :-)

  • Diana75's Profile Photo
    May 24, 2006 at 7:17 AM

    Thanks for your precious tips and wonderful pictures. We are preparing our two weeks trip to Sicily and Malta and now I know what I shouldn't miss there.

  • tpal's Profile Photo
    Mar 3, 2006 at 6:56 AM

    I figured, turn around is fair play...thx for visiting my Campobello page. In August it was hot but pretty dry. It was nice to see the hills covered in green in your spring pics...by summer they're brown. You saw much more than I. Great tour...Tom

iandsmith

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