Although it’s the largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily is still less than 10,000 square miles in area – or approximately 83 miles east to west and 70 miles or so north to south.
That might give the impression that, for a visit to Sicily, you simply need to put yourself down at a single destination and make your forays across the whole of the island from that one home base.
It may be a mistaken impression, however, since at least one travel guide describes the island as a “magnificently underappreciated Italian outpost”. Sicily is so very diverse, and differences between its many regions are so pronounced that multi-centre Sicily holidays are more suited to providing the richer, more memorable experience you are likely to want.
The best combination of Sicilian cities and resorts to visit depends on your holiday preferences, of course, but here are a few suggestions that lend extra dimensions to any visit to this Mediterranean gem.
Palermo and Trapani
Palermo is the island’s capital and to this day continues to show off the very rich and varied cultural history of influences from across the whole of the Mediterranean – from North Africa, Spain, Greece and the Middle East.
The city is consequently the starting point for many a Sicilian adventure, where one foot is almost certain to be treading the past.
Also in the northwest of the island, Trapani is set on a low, sickle-shaped peninsula that attracted its first Phoenician settlers, the Elymians. The region has long been important for its production of olives and wine, but the latter industry, in particular, has really taken off in recent years, and Trapani now produces more wine than Tuscany, Chile, Hungary or Austria.
Cefalu and Taormina
This is a combination of destinations you might pick if your goal is peace and tranquillity – or just the kind of quiet romance you might look for in a honeymoon.
Historically, Cefalu has been a place of peaceful refuge and was a safe haven to peoples fleeing war-torn lands during the time of the ancient Greeks.
Its Roman walls still stand today and stretch down from the centre of the town to the sea itself.
Just as ancient, but probably more popular amongst today’s visitors, is the town of Taormina on the island’s east coast. From its situation on an elevated terrace, Taormina offers some of the most stunning panoramas in the whole of Sicily, with its ancient amphitheatre set against the backdrop of the mighty Etna and the Ionian Sea beyond.
Etna, Syracuse and Erice
This is one for wine buffs everywhere. Recent years have seen a huge growth in interest and appreciation of the wines of Sicily – and for good reason, too, given the sheer diversity and steady improvement in the quality of the wines.
Etna, in the east of Sicily, provides mineral-rich, fertile volcanic soils that have proven to be ideal for wine production – especially full-bodied reds for which the region is perhaps best known.
Meanwhile, Syracuse in the southeast provides an alternative centre for your wine-tasting holiday, with first-hand acquaintance with the local Moscato di Siracuse wine, which is made exclusively from Moscato Bianco grapes.
Finally, Erice on the western side of Sicily is renowned for its classic Erice Passito and Erice Spumante, making it an ideal finale to a wine-themed multi-centre holiday in Sicily.