The stepping stone between Africa and Europe, Sicily is rich in iridescent history and culture. There is no doubt that Sicily is extraordinary, and despite the tidal waves of people coming and going, and although it has been fought over, occupied, and looted, this island has still managed to foster a culture in which is just so quintessentially Sicilian.
With such a great wealth of fascinating history, getting under the skin of this majestic island can seem like a daunting task. This guide brings you the best of Sicily, in terms of understanding Sicilian heritage, and experiencing its cultural roots.
Towering above the city of Catania, In Greek mythology, Mount Etna tells the story of Typhon a 100-headed monster who was the son of the earth goddess Gaia. Typhon is said to have been imprisoned within the mountain by Zeus for his rebellions, and he has been spitting out his angry flames ever since. Perhaps explaining why Mount Etna is the most active volcano in Europe.
The Anti Mafia Museum
The stories told of the Mafia’s authority over Sicily knows no bounds, and are often profoundly romanticised. The Anti Mafia museum in the small town of Corleone (of course), diffuses the fantasy surrounding mafia; detailing the horrific history of Sicily’s Cosa Nostra crime syndicate. Throughout the tour of the museum, an emphasis is put on the courageous efforts of the anti-mafia campaigners and judges who fearlessly spoke out against organised crimes, breaking the culture of omertà, meaning silence.
The museum is only available through a guided tour, which can be booked in advance.
Arancini alone is a reason to visit Sicily. The word translates to little oranges, however, they are not little oranges at all but stuffed rice balls. In which are coated with bread crumbs and then deep fried and are usually filled with ragù, mozzarella, and peas.
In my eyes, arancini is a reflection of the vibrant Sicilian culture, as there exist a number of regional variants in which differ in fillings and shape. Furthermore, many of the ingredients used to make arancini mimic the island’s past inhabitants, for example, the rice will often be seasoned with saffron, alluding to the north African influences existing in Sicily.
Palermo’s cathedral is an eruption of diversity and mash of architectural styles, it is unique and most definitely striking. Visitors to the cathedral can expect to see Arab, Norman, Byzantine, Swabian, Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque influences. It’s all under one roof, in one grand, awe-inspiring place, topped with exquisite medieval spires.
San Vito Lo Capo
A visit to Sicily wouldn’t be complete with a visit to the islands sensational coastline. San Vito Lo Capo is a small seaside town in northwestern Sicily and is renowned for its beach which is on a sheltered bay overlooked by Mount Monaco.