Do you know how much revenue Sicily has lost because of the novel epidemic? Sicily has lost £1 billion ($1.08 million) in revenue from tourism after they closed the door on March 10, 2020? But they have already started thinking to entice tourists to return after the coronavirus. The proposed plan would cost them £50 million. But they hope to recover it as tourists return once the restrictions on lockdown will ease out.
The Proposed Plan announced by Sicily includes:
- They will pay half of the visitor’s flight ticket cost.
- A third of your hotel expenses will also be covered.
- Free tickets for museums and archaeological sites.
The tourism industry contributes 13% to the GDP of Italy and with these borders closed, it is certainly hampering the economy. They are keen to welcome tourists once the pandemic is over. Non-essential travel is currently banned but we are assuming after the ease in lockdown laws from next week will allow some movement within regions but definitely no tourists. Let’s see when the borders are opened and maybe Sicily can be on top of your list.
How do I get it?
To take advantage of this plan, as soon as the country reopens its borders and businesses you need to visit Visit Sicily website. And the vouchers for flights and accommodation will be available there. As if right now there is no set date. But Italy has announced that from May 4, they will reopen restaurants for takeaway service and manufacturing and construction sectors.
Hence, we can say that Autumn would be the prime time to visit, pandemic pending. Here is a small guide that might come in handy if you are planning to visit the island.
Reason to consider Sicily in you bucket list
There are many reasons why you need to consider Sicily in your bucket list. But before getting into that, let’s talk a little bit about Sicily Island.
I am sure you all have heard about Italy but the majority of you wouldn’t have heard about Sicily. Sicily or Sicilia (in Italian) is the largest and most populated island in the Mediterranean Sea. The capital of Sicily is Palermo (does it sound familiar now). The island forms an autonomous region of Italy which means they have the right/power of self-government. Sicily has a rich and unique culture in regards to art, music, cuisine, literature, and architecture.
Fun Facts About Sicily
- Sicily island is surrounded by three seas namely the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Ionian Sea.
- Mount Etna in Sicily is the tallest and most active volcano in the world. It is 10,900 feet tall.
- The Sicily island has been ruled by many ancient civilizations including the Romans, Vandals, and Ostrogoths, Islam, and Byzantine.
- More than four-fifths of the land in Sicily is hills and mountains
- The total population of the island is 5 million people
- Sicily is home to the largest opera house in Italy (in Palermo)
- Sicilians speak many languages which include French, German, Arabic, and Romanian.
- The ‘Mafia’ or ‘ Cosa Nostra’ originated in Sicily in the 19th century.
- A paradise for foodies with authentic Sicilian pizza, cannoli hails, and wine.
- Sicily boasts 6 World Heritage Sites because of its rich historical, cultural, and natural diversities.
a) Archaeological Area of Agrigento
b) Villa Romana del Casale
c) Isole Eolie (Aeolian Islands)
d) Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto (South-Eastern Sicily)
e) Syracuse and the Rocky Necropolis of Pantalica
f) Mount Etna
Ashlyn Cahill who is an avid traveler from Chicago, Illinois says “My favorite place in Sicily is Solanto, Italy which is near Palermo. It has perfect weather, but more a laid back beach town if you want to be close to Palermo but not in the city. I’d say Solanto is a cute little quiet beach town if you’re looking for the true Italy. There are gorgeous beaches without the crowds and you can take day trips to gorgeous secret islands. And you have to eat one of these bad boys – ‘Ice Cream in a bun’. I had one for breakfast like every day.
Sicily Travel Guide
Frederick II, King of Sicily, once said: “I don’t envy God’s paradise, because I’m well satisfied to live in Sicily”. Sicily island offers its tourists with white sandy beaches along its pristine coastline. It has plenty of heritage sites that are rich in history and culture and a great place for foodies.
Places to Visit in Sicily
Below are some places which you should have on your list while visiting the island. Here are the top ten best places in the region to visit.
- Palermo – The capital of Sicily. The place is a spot for cultures and street markets. Experience different cultures in one style. And spend your evening at the beach.
- Taormina – One of the most beautiful places to visit in the world with an extensive view of the sea and the mountains. The Greek theater, the Taormina Filmfest, and Taormina Arte are something which one should not miss.
- Ragusa Ibla – The city is home to several stunning palaces and churches.
- Scala Dei Turchi – The most beautiful beaches all over Sicily because it’s on a white cliff located along the stretch of the sea which makes you feel like you are in wonderland.
- Noto – Known for its baroque architecture with stunning churches and palaces.
- Lampedusa – Famous for its beaches, hiking trails, and scuba diving. Also for the island of the rabbits.
- Aeolian Islands – These are 7 islands, each offering its own distinct atmosphere, charm, and hospitality. Amazing beaches, and two active volcanoes.
- Syracuse – Famous for rich Greek and Roman history, culture, and architecture. Birthplace of the preeminent mathematician and engineer Archimedes.
- Agrigento – Famous for the Valley of the Temples which is the world’s biggest archaeological park. A great example of Greece art and architecture.
- San Vito Lo Capo – Famous for its couscous festival held over 10 days each September. Also known for its beautiful beaches, archaeological sites, and a nature reserve – the Zingaro Reserve.
Apart from these, Sicily boasts 6 World Heritage Sites, which are:
- Archaeological Area of Agrigento
- Villa Romana del Casale
- Isole Eolie (Aeolian Islands)
- Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto (South-Eastern Sicily)
- Syracuse and the Rocky Necropolis of Pantalica
- Mount Etna
Things to do in Sicily
The island has so much to offer to every traveler. From the beaches to the mountains, from the history to the food and from architecture to the national parks. And I agree that these diversities tend to attract more tourists. No wonder tourism is an important factor in terms of GDP for Italy. I have tried to include some best things to which you can overlook if you are visiting Sicily.
- Since the island has numerous beaches here are some of the beaches which you can definitely explore.
- San Vito Lo Capo
- Cala Rossa – in Favignana
- The Rabbit Island – in Lampedusa
- Scala dei Turchi – in Realmonte
- Isola Bella – in Taormina
- Calamosche – between Vendicari and Noto
- Beach of Mondello – near Palermo
- Isola Delle Correnti – Portopalo
2. You can take the excursion by boat in the Islands of the Aeolian Archipelago or in the Aegadian Islands, or along the coast of Pantelleria or Lampedusa.
3. Trekking lovers can hike along many panoramic trails or on the slopes of smoldering volcanoes. Some of the famous hiking spots are-
- Aeolian Islands – Stromboli and Vulcano
- Mount Etna (highest volcano in Europe with an altitude of 3,350 meters)
- Cammino Ibleo
4. For other adventure lovers, you can take part in off-road tours or take the cable car which will take you up to 2,500 meters.
5 If you are looking for something on foot or going horse-riding, then these are for you-
- Peloritani and Nebrodi mountain range
- Madonie Park
- Alcamo Nature Reserve or the necropolis of Pantalica
6. You can follow a cultural and food itinerary and enjoy the history, nature, and local taste. This can be covered by car or bicycle along with one of the thirteen Strade del vino e dei Sapori. You can also visit family-run wineries.
7. Sicily also has an ancient thermal tradition. You can enjoy thermal baths and mud therapy in Segesta. You can also experience the natural bath on the alley of Vulcano Island or the free bath at Lake Specchio di Venere (Mirror of Venus).
8. If you are traveling with kids then you can do these things –
- Attend a Pupi show (puppets show) at the Teatro Dei Pupi in Syracuse.
- Also you can attend the puppet show at the Teatro Carlo Magno and Teatro dell’Opera dei Pupi in Palermo.
- Visit Etnaland – biggest amusement park in southern Italy which is in Belpasso, Catania
- There are two more, one is Scivolandia in Cammarata and another is Acquaaprk Conte in Sommatino.
9. There are many events and festivals which takes place in Sicily –
- Carnival of Acireale (most famous in Italy)
- Infiorata of Corpus Domini in Noto
- Palio dei Normanni (Palio of the Romans) in Piazza Armerina (12,13 and 14 August every year)
- Ballo dei diavoli ( The devil’s dance) in Prizzi, province of Palermo (connected to the Easter celebration)
- Festival of Saint Rosalia in Palermo – most important religious festival (every year in July)
- Festival of Saint Agatha in Catania – religious festival (3 to 5 February, 12 February and 17 August every year)
- Taormina Film Fest in Taormina ( between June and July)
- Almond Blossom Festival in Agrigento (early March)
- Festa Degli Aquiloni in San Vito Lo Capo – kite festival (May)
- Cous Cous Fest – couscous festival with concerts & shows (late September)
What to Eat in Sicily
As discussed before Sicily is a hotspot for the foodies. Some of their dishes are famous all over the world. So here are some of the dishes which you must try.
Famous Pasta Dishes
- Pasta alla norma
- Pasta con le sarde
- Pesto alla trapanese
Famous Fish Dishes
- Sarde a beccafico
- Polpette di alici
- Swordfish alla siciliana
- Falsomagro or bruciuluni
Famous Street Food Dishes
- Pane e panelle
- Pane cunzato
- Granita with brioche
- Almond paste sweets
- Mattonella di Cioccolato con Fichi
- Nero D’Avola
- Etna Rosso
- Etna Bianco
- Moscato di Noto
- Malvasia delle Lipari
- Zibibbo di Pantelleria
Honestly just like you, I was also not aware of Sicily island although I have heard about the city Palmero. But after discovering so much about the island I really feel like adding it to my list now. And once the epidemic is over, you can even get airline tickets for half the price and also concession on the hotels. Please let me know: What are your thoughts and comments on this?
Ashlyn Cahill who is an avid traveler from Chicago, Illinois says “I think Sicily is one of the last true authentic regions. Historically they get the least tourism, so the area is lush and full of raw culture, traditional foods, and locals eager to learn more why you traveled so far to see their home. I have made lifelong friends in Sicily, and it is due to Sicily’s rare authenticity.”
Here are some of the pictures clicked by travelers in Sicily.