Sicily is a magical destination; kind of like going to heaven. So it makes sense to go to Sultry Sicily for Easter. Sicily was an independent kingdom prior to the unification of Italy.
Spend at least a week in Sicily after you cross the congested two-mile Strait of Messina from the mainland. The best way to get around the island is to rent a car of hire a private driver if you hope to see all the fabulous sites in a reasonable amount of time. There are also plenty of bus tours and boat rides available through tour companies in the major cities like Palermo and Taormina.
Sicily is the largest Mediterranean Island. It is characterized by mountainous terrain and arguably some of Italy’s most flavorful cuisine.
You probably want to see Mt. Etna; the highest active volcano in Europe. It dominates the Ionian coastline from Catania to Taormina. Take a jeep excursion to the summit of this majestic volcano to witness the dramatic landscape of Sicily.
Europe’s most active volcano, Mount Etna is almost 11,000 feet high. It is the highest mountain in Italy south of the Alps; located on the east coast of Sicily, close to Messina and Catania. There is a beautiful view of Mt. Etna from Taormina’s Greek Amphitheater.
When it erupts; it sends a billowing plume of smoke and ash into the sky. It has already erupted four times this year. The eruptions foster fertile volcanic soils that support agriculture. There are many vineyards and orchards across the lower slopes of the mountain.
You can fly into Palermo or Catania or take a ferry from the mainland to Messina. Depending on your itinerary, visit the sites around Palermo, including the Palermo Cathedral, San Cataldo’s Church, Chiesa della Martorana, and San Giovanni degli Eremiti (St. John of the Hermits) near the Palazzo dei Normanni. The Palace is incredible example of Norman architecture and houses the famous Cappella Palatina.
Go to the beach town of Mondello, near Palermo for a spectacular Vino con Vista.
Then travel to the gorgeous cathedral of Monreale.
Visit the shrine of Santa Rosalia near Monreale. Santa Rosalia is like a rock star saint in Palermo. Saint Rosalia is the patron saint of Palermo. On 14 July, people in Palermo celebrate the Festino, the most important religious event of the year. The Festino is a procession in the main street of Palermo to remember the miracle attributed to Santa Rosalia who freed the city from the Black Death in 1624. The cave where the bones of Santa Rosalia were discovered is on Monte Pellegrino.
The residents of Palermo have a massive culinary street party in July in the streets of Palermo called Festino de Santa Rosalia. Her emblem is a crown of roses and a skull. In 1630, Pope Urban VII established two holidays for Santa Rosalia: July 15th to commemorate the anniversary of the discovery of her relics and September 4th, the day of the death of “Santuzza” and her official ecclesiastical feast day.
Then take the train from Palermo to Cefalu; one of my favorite beach towns. Visit the Norman Cathedral and admire the gorgeous mosaic “Pantocrator.”
You can get a great view of “La Rocca” in Cefalu. In the center of town, walk over to see where the women washed there clothes in the public laundry facility built into the ground.
If you go to Taormina, there are also plenty of incredible places to stay. I like the Grand Hotel Timeo perched high above the Strait of Messina, that opened in 1873.
The clientelle has included Oscar Wilde, Catherine Deneuve and Robert Di Nero. Have a lemon cello from the Library Terrace for an incredible Vino con Vista. I also love the San Domenico Palace Hotel with multiple terraces, four restaurants and a great pool area. The hotel is housed in a former 14th century monastery. The chef is famous for his regional menu.
Palermo, Taormina and Modica are my favorite places to use as a hub in Sicily. Explore the magical Aeolian Islands of Lipari and Stromboli with an organized tour.
I also love the beautiful Baroque UNESCO towns in Southeastern Sicily of Modica, Avola and Ragusa.
Sicily has nine Vino con Vista provinces: Palermo, Messina, Catania, Syracuse, Ragusa, Caltanissetta, Agrigento, Enna and Trapani. The island has experienced successive invasions and conquests. The Phoenicians colonized Northwestern Sicily around 800 B.C. including Palermo. The Greeks arrived in Southeastern Sicily at about the same time, establishing Naxos near Taormina.
There are wonderful Easter and Holy Week Rituals in Enna Sicily: Buona Pasqua. Click on the link and you can witness Holy Week celebrations all over Sicily. Goint to Sicily for Easter is definitely on my bucket list!
To learn more about Sicily read www.vino-con-vista.com Travel Guides.
- Marzipan Festival in Catania Sicily to Honor St. Agatha (vinoconvistablog.me)
- Easter and Holy Week Rituals in Enna Sicily: Buona Pasqua (vinoconvistablog.me)
- Food and Wine Festivals in Italy (vinoconvistablog.me)
- Amazing footage of Mt. Etna first eruption of the year (thezigzagger.com)
- Top Ten Reasons to Travel to Italy (vinoconvistablog.me)
- Mount Etna – A Photo Essay (petersadventures.wordpress.com)