Incredible history, great food, Greek temples to climb (read about it here). Sicily is one of the best kept secrets in the modern world with cultural variation seen everywhere on the island. The best Greek Temples in the world, Greek Theaters, fascinating cathedrals, and an incredible Baroque influence. Almost every culture in history has left their mark on Sicily, including the Sicily mafia. There are actually still places where you can run into the mafia contrary to popular belief. Now on to the good stuff! Here are the top 5 things to see Sicily:
There are 7, count them, 7 different sites to see in Agrigento, and that doesn’t include the sites to see in the city. One of the best examples of Greek Architecture in the Mediterranean world. The restorative work of the Italians allows tourists to get a firsthand look at how extensive Greek colonization was in Sicily. Argrigento is one of the most popular destinations for tourists who would like to view Greek architecture in its classical form. You can get a great view of 3 together at once.
The largest Greek Temple in Sicily, all the marble that had previously been dismantled by earthquakes has been restored. Located on the island’s western edge it is not as accessible as other Greek colonies. The size of the temple complex is astounding right down to the size of the columns themselves. If you would like to see how I climbed this temple take a look at this post.
About an hour East of Palermo, Cefalu is known for export of salt and pepper worldwide, it has the distinction of being a continuously occupied city from ancient times to the present day. The city was built on a narrow piece of land below a major mountain, giving it the opportunity to survive during insecure times. If you are able to withstand the exertion of making it to the top of the mountain (or half way up) you will be treated to one of the most incredible views in the Mediterranean world; crisp blue waters, perfectly preserved medieval town with cobblestone streets, and a historical cathedral. Some have even been seen parasailing in Cefalu Sicily off of the great mountain which is one of the popular Sicily activities to take part of.
PALERMO & MONREALE
Palermo, the capital of Sicily, is nestled on the Northwest corner of the island. It has been a major cosmopolitan city of Europe since medieval times. Tourists will be treated to incredible architecture, some of the best Catacombs in the world, and run ins with the Sicily Mafia. Many of Sicily’s famous are “buried” in the catacombs. When you feast your eyes on the basilica in the capital you will be astonished by its size. Monreale which is just south of Palermo provides one of the best examples of what makes Sicily such a fascinating experience. The basilica demonstrates how every culture that has conquered Sicily leaves its mark.
SIRACUSA & NOTO-
Noto is one of the most impressive examples of Boroque architecture in all of Europe. Previously destroyed by an earthquake it was totally rebuilt in the highly decorative style in the 17th century it is one of the best places to do Sicily sightseeing. To the delight of architectural purists, modernity has not been allowed to infringe on its historical style. Siracusa is the sight of the largest green colony in the classical period and home to the most famous Greek engineer of all times, Archimedes. One can still see the fort constructed by this famous person that defended his city against the Romans. The city is also well known for other Greek treasures including the largest Greek theater and a forum which are still in use today.
UPDATE: Its bitter sweet to write this article since I use to live in Sicily. By popular demand I will be sharing my stories of when I ran into the Sicily mafia and other great stories about its charm. The mafia in Sicily still does exist but their power is nowhere near what it was because of the European Union.