A holiday in Sicily allows visitors to discover a unique and captivating island. The rich tapestry of Mediterranean history can be witnessed on the southerly island of Sicily, fascinating not only for its amazing blend of cultures including Greek, Arab, Byzantine and Norman and its architectural treasures which reflect these influences but also for its breathtaking scenery of coast, parched mountains and fertile groves of almonds, oranges, lemons and olives.The people are proud and independent, reserved but sincere and helpful. Traditions thrive to an extent that the atmosphere of Sicily is unrecognisable in the context of other parts of Italy further north. The towns and villages are contrasting with picture postcard scenes of mediaeval labyrinthine alleyways adorned by wrought-iron balconies and baskets of flowers or severe delapidation punctuated by grand Baroque or austere Norman cathedrals and churches.
Additionally there are of course some of the most important sites of the ancient Greek world such as the temples at Agrigento, the theatre at Taormina and numerous relics at Siracusa, reputedly one of the most beautiful cities of the Greek world. High above the island looms Mount Etna, one of the largest volcanoes in the world and an awe-inspiring sight. Off the north coast of Sicily, the beautiful Aeolian Islands offer escape and remoteness, natural scenery and a startling light, a sleepy way of life and romantic isolation.
A holiday in Sicily appeals for those who want typical rest and relaxation with cultural activities at hand, and for those who want to be more adventurous and experience more of this captivating island.
Our favourite four and five star hotels for a luxury holiday in Sicily include the Grand Hotel Timeo in Taormina and the San Domenico Palace in Taormina.
Cultural Highlights of SicilyPalermo contains some of the greatest Arab-Norman buildings in existence - San Giovanni degli Eremiti, the Palazzo Reale with its striking Cappella Palatina and La Martorana. Monreale outside Palermo is the greatest work of Norman architecture in Sicily and contains beautiful 12th and 13th Century mosaics and cloisters. The Doric temples of the 5th Century BC in the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento. Cefalu has the `Portrait of a Man` by Antonello da Messina, dating from 1465 in its Museo Mandralisca.
Festivals in SicilyMany Sicilian local festivals are linked to Saints` Days. A few of the most well-known festivals generally include Carnival celebrations in Taormina and Acireale. Easter is celebrated especially in Trapani, Marsala and Piana degli Albanesi. Messina celebrates Ferragosto on the 15th August with a firework display over the Straits. The Sagra del Mandorlo in Fiore takes place in Agrigento in the first and second weeks of February to celebrate the almond blossom. Taormina Arte is a summer festival of music, cinema, ballet and theatre, held in the Greek theatre. The Palio dei Normanni takes place in Piazza Armeria in August.
Gastronomy in SicilyThe gastronomy of Sicily, like much of the culture of the island, has been heavily influenced by its history. Cuscus is a Sicilian version of couscous, and marzipan features heavily in sweets. Local produce includes citrus fruits, almonds, capers, olives, peppers and fish. Local specialities include Maccheroni con le sarde (pasta with sardines, fennel, raisins, pine nuts and saffron), Pesce spada (grilled sword fish), 'alla Siciliana' with capers, red peppers and herbs. Cassata is a popular dessert made with ricotta, candied fruit and pistachios and Cannoli are almond biscuits stuffed with ricotta. Sicily produces a variety of red and white wines including Corvo di Salaparuta and Etna, Marsala and Malvasia.
We recommend the following excursions: An ascent of Mount Etna, partly by car and then further on foot (guides available) through the luxuriant vegetation which includes oranges and lemons, bougainvillaea and poinsettias and then higher up the groves of walnuts, cherries, almonds, pistachios and vines. Palermo is known for its street markets, especially Vucciria and Ballaro, where traders and hawkers, pickpockets and shoppers converge amongst narrow streets and stalls of wares. See the traditional costumes and dialect of Piana degli Albanesi, where Albanians settled in the 15th Century. Revel in the splendid site of Taormina above the sea with views to Etna. Local crafts include cork, ceramics, honey, embroidery, raffia. Enjoy the calm and remoteness of the Aeolian Islands with their clear waters, beautiful scenery and peaceful way of life. Enjoy the gardens of the Villa Giulia in Palermo and the Public Gardens in Taormina.
Sicily by Air: Fly to Catania with direct flights from London Gatwick by British Airways on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from May and daily scheduled flights with Alitalia from London changing in Milan or Rome or by air to Palermo with daily scheduled flights with Alitalia from London changing in Milan or Rome. There are various possibilities for charter flights with departures from local airports. Please call us for details. Travel to the Aeolian Islands: Fly to Catania (as above). However it is usually impossible to get further than Lipari the first day. We recommend that on the way there you break your journey in Taormina and then continue the next day. The return journey from the islands to Catania can be done in one day. To reach the islands you take a hydrofoil (summer timetable runs from June to September, before and after that the schedules are less frequent) from Milazzo on the Sicilian coast. Milazzo is about a 2 hour taxi ride from Catania airport. The hydrofoil timings are approximately as follows: Milazzo to Lipari - 1 hour, Milazzo to Panarea - 1 hour 45 minutes, Milazzo to Salina - 1 hour 45 minutes. In the summer months there is also a hydrofoil service from Naples to the islands with Stromboli being the closest with a journey time of about 4 hours. We do not include the cost of the taxi transfer or the hydrofoil tickets in the holiday prices - details are provided by us on request about the transfer arrangements.Hire-cars: We include a hire-car with our hotels on the mainland of Sicily except Palermo. However, if you are staying in Taormina you might not need the use of a car, so a transfer can be arranged for you instead. When driving around Sicily you do have to bear in mind the time it can take to travel from place to place.
Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo is an elegant and excellently situated five star hotel in Taormina.
The Belmond Villa Sant'Andrea is a charming hotel of quality on the sea beneath Taormina in Toarmina Mare.<
The San Domenico Palace, Taormina is an atmospheric, historic five star hotel in the centre of the town wit
Hotel Villa Belvedere is a comfortable, centrally located property in Taormina.
A unique Villa designed by an Englishman with a Sicilian twist.
Located in the heart of Taormina, set
Eremo della Giubiliana lies on the fertile plains between the historic town of Ragusa Ibla and the seaside
The fine Grand Hotel Ortigia is marvellously situated right by the seafront in Ortigia, which is the histor
The five star deluxe Hotel Giardino di Costanza is a magnificent venue
for relaxation and rejuvenation, l
Located on the Aeolian island of Salina near the lighthouse of Faro, the Capofaro is owned by the Tasca d'A
The Villa Meligunis is a glorious, small hotel of just 32 rooms, enjoying a central location in the ancient
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Let us know a convenient time to call you back to discuss your holiday.
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The Villa del Quar in Pedemonte is a property of charm and elegance within easy
Palazzo Belmonte is a stunning 17th Century palazzo in an idyllic setting by the
Castello del Nero is a sumptuous and elegant retreat in Chianti.
The Castello di Velona is an enchanting hotel and a perfect place from which to
Il Pellicano in Tuscany is one of our personal all-time favourites. Elegant and
The Hotel Villa del Sogno is a charming hotel, restful, with beautiful views.
Le Sirenuse in Positano is full of character, charm and superb quality. An excep
The Hotel Santa Caterina in Amalfi has an historic ambience and a convenient loc
Jade Mountain Club at Anse Chastanet is an exclusive and private retreat that ha
Le Mas Candille in Mougins is a luxurious five star hotel combining a beautiful
The five star Anassa in Polis is of world-class standards, and continues to be o
The Pine Cliffs Hotel and Resort, near Albufeira in the Algarve is an immensely
Finca Cortesin is an elegant hotel with plenty of special touches to guarantee a
Amirandes is conveniently situated a short distance from the airport and occupie
Find out more about Italy
CapitalRome AirportThere is a very good scattering of international airports in Italy, with the main ones being Venice, Pisa, Milan, Rome, Bologna, Naples, Genoa, Turin and Bari; on Sicily, Catania is served by several airlines from the UK and on Sardinia you fly to Cagliari or Olbia.CurrencyEuro (£1 = Euro 1.30) SizeItaly is roughly 650 miles long, but only about 100 miles wide Population60 million Average temperatureItaly's temperature varies dramatically, from about 4 degrees in Turin in winter to 33 degrees in Sicily in summer, with snow year-round on the summits of the Pyrenees and Alps National holidays in Italy Some tourist attractions as well as banks etc may close on the following days: 1 January 6 January (Epiphany) Easter Monday 25 April (Liberation Day) 1 May (Labour Day) 15 August (Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary) 1 November (All Saints) 8 December (Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary) Christmas Day Boxing Day There are a number of local feast days that can affect conditions locally. In addition to the above days, museums are often closed on Mondays in Italy.
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