Top 3 Places to Visit in Sicily

Lipari - Photo © Sossio
Lipari – Photo © Sossio

It’s difficult not to want to see everything in Sicily. Villas, churches, ruins, the quaint markets and cafes that line small towns all have a unique appeal.

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and it can be a little overwhelming to plan a holiday that allows you see the very best that this wonderful destination has to offer.

But while others may limit their tour to seeing the grandeur of Sicily villas, cathedrals and other historical buildings, the best way to get to know the island is to discover all her many facets. The lively markets, the fantastic beaches and landscapes, and the important archaeological sites make this a truly amazing tourist destination, so visitors who want to experience a bit of everything should start with the following sites.

Historical Markets in Palermo

Nothing reveals the authenticity of the island more than the local markets, especially in Palermo, where fresh produce, pastries, breads, cheeses and local crafts abound. When on a holiday to Sicily, villas within easy access of Palermo will enable you to explore in details this wonderfully refreshing city. Stroll around Il Capo, one of Palermo’s busiest markets, and the sheer diversity of products and lively atmosphere will make even first-time visitors feel at home instantly. The historical market of Il Capo is best visited during early mornings.

Ancient City of Agrigento

The island is home to five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and you should not miss a visit to Agrigento, a fascinating city featuring ancient Greek architecture. It’s a place where the fusion of Italian and Greek influences can be seen and explored in detail. The Valle dei Templi and the Scala dei Turchi are important landmarks in Agrigento, with the former being one of Italy’s primary national monuments, and the latter an equally famous ancient icon. One of the most visited towns in Sicily, villas near Agrigento will set you in the heart of a deeply historical region. The city’s heritage shows in the classical architecture, ancient buildings and other structures known for their archaeological legacy. There are also ruins of Greek temples scattered throughout the city.

Brilliant Beaches in the Aeolian Islands

When staying in Sicily, villas rented in the summer naturally place you within reach of the island’s glorious beaches. The Aeolian Islands, located in the north of the island, are a must-see place to visit. As a product of over 200,000 years of volcanic activities, the islands that make up the archipelago are now a popular tourist attraction. But apart from the spectacular waters surrounding the Aeolian Islands, they also boast a number of caves and rugged cliffs – this amazing landscape is truly breath-taking. The buildings and houses throughout the islands bear a distinct architecture that sets them apart from the rest of the islandArticle Submission, and the whitewashed houses perfectly complement the picturesque million-dollar view of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

About the Author

Lisa Jeeves

Where to stay in Lipari

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Sicily holidays

Trapani
Trapani

Sicily, the biggest island in the Mediterranean Sea, is a independent region of Italy. It is popular for its awesome scenic beauty which attracts many visitors worldwide. This beautiful countryside scenery is elegantly seen on the tip of Italy”s toe and as it is bordered by water on all the sides makes it look more gorgeous which greatly contents the tourists and the visitors. It is a land of unique art, culture, cuisine, customs and architecture. It has freshness all around and gives a look of a countryside rural area that has considerably attracted a lot of tourists. Sicily is liked and respected for its natural splendour. Sicily is not only originally beautiful but even has historic archeology and olden monuments, temples and forts that increases its beauty. If you are preparing your vacations at Sicily, it”s the best idea. Because of its geographic position it has a Mediterranean atmosphere where the summers are warm, hot and dry, winters are warm and wet as this region gets rainfall during winters. Sicily is usually a vivid land getting a lot of sunshine almost throughout the year. This island has fresh and lively sunny days and at sunset Sicily looks amazingly beautiful as the sun sets behind the delightful mountains. This scenery is most pleasurable on the shinny beaches of Sicily, La Spiagga is a popular beach where tourists like the joyful day time and the heavenly evening sunset. Sicily is well-known for its customs and culture which can evidently depicted through the cuisine, arts and architecture and the language that the locales of Sicily speak. This island is specially noticed for its cuisines and wines and hence famously known God”s Kitchen. The food variety is rich and conventional and quiet affordable too, so you won”t find a problem in trying all types of food specialties cooked there. The cuisines of Sicily include a variety of dishes cooked by using fresh fruits and vegetables which are nutritious and are spiced with a topping of the old herbs and spices of Sicily, the flavor and the taste is splendid. These mouth-watering delicacies include a range of fresh vegetables like tomatoes, artichokes, olives, citrus, apricots, aubergines, onions, beans, raisins along with the freshly caught sea-food which include tuna fish, sea bream, cuttlefish, sea bass, swordfish, sardines etc..

These are cooked by easy and traditional methods. Not only these, the sweet dishes like Cannoli, a variety of Doughnuts, Bucellato, Ciarduna, Pignoli, bruccellati, sesame seed cookie are also awesome, to attain the real rich taste of all these unique cuisines it is excellent to visit Sicily. They use a lot of cheese and a range of spices like saffron, nutmeg, cloves, pepper and cinnamon which add taste to their food. Parsley is used in mostly all the dishes. So all food lovers your wait is over, enjoy the conventional food at Sicily. Sicily is rich in arts which is revealed by its popular paintings, sculptures and a number of poets, musicians, philosophers who have left their identity from the Greek rule. People of Sicily are bilingual; they speak a unique language called the Romance Language which arises from Indo-European language family which comprises all the languages basically from Latin, an historic language from Rome. Sicily locales usually speak the habitual Romance Language. Its awesome artistic hotels give you a wonderful and comfortable stay. So enjoy your vacations at Sicily. Thus, experience the “Garden of Mediterranean” and observe Sicily”s pleasant and traditional way of living. You can land at any three airports of Sicily, the Catania-Fontanarossa Airport which is busiest of other two, Palermo International Airport which is bigger as compared to Trapani-Birgi Airport. Although the size of the airports hardly matter, as far as you reach Sicily and enjoy its true tradition and scenic beauty to its fullest.

About the Author

Jamie Hanson

Where to stay in Trapani

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Discover the Wild Side of Sicily

Trapani
Trapani

Today, villas in Sicily offer peace and tranquillity. However, in the past the coast was often attacked by Barbary pirates!

Sicily is a stunning island off the coast of the southernmost part of Italy and only 100 miles away from the coast of North Africa. It has had a chequered past, with many different civilisations invading and each leaving their own distinct mark on both the language and food. It is a truly fascinating and beautiful place to visit on a holiday.

The Stunning Western Coast

There are many excellent villas in Sicily to choose from all over the island, but the western coast is particularly lovely, being away from the busier tourist areas. Trapani has one of the loveliest stretches of coastline in all of Italy. Here it is possible to experience the peace and tranquillity of the region and swim in the immaculate crystal blue waters. There are also some protected natural reserves where you can find different walks, discovering beautiful beaches, flowers, cliffs and caves along the way.

The small seaside town of Cornino is overlooked by Monte Corfano, which forms part of the Monte Cofano Natural Reserve, and has a small, protected bay where you can swim in the stunningly clear water. This is a wonderful place to visit to enjoy invigorating hikes along the unspoilt coastal path. Villas in Sicily situated within access of this lovely area are ideal to use as a base for further exploration.

Nature and History

The nearby nature reserve is not just astoundingly beautiful, there are some fascinating archaeological sites to visit as well. You can explore caves that were used as prehistoric settlements and, in the 9th century, by religious hermits. More recently, during the Second World War, they were used as shelter by refugees. The remains of fortifications built in the 16th century to protect the coast from Barbary pirates can be found at either side of the peninsula. During the 1500s to the 1800s Barbary pirates from North Africa caused fear and panic among the Mediterranean population, resulting in many people abandoning the coastal areas.

Butterfly Island

One of the highlights of the area is the Egadi Islands (Isole Egadi). Another advantage of renting one of the villas in Sicily in this region is that these islands can be visited by ferry from Masala or Trapani. Favignana, the largest of the three islands, is often referred to as ‘la grande farfalla’- which translates to ‘the large butterfly’, as its shape resembles. The islands were all bought by the Sicilian Florio family, in 1874, as an investment relating to the tuna trade.

There are plenty of wonderful opportunities to try scuba diving here, as the sea is so wonderfully clear. There are also sea caves to explore if you decide to go diving, such as Grotta Azzura, Grotta dei Sospiri (Grotto of sighs) and Grotta degli Innamorati (Lovers’ Grotto). These spectacular caves can also be accessed on boat tours.

Cave Drawings

Perhaps the most exciting thing to see on the smallest of the Egadi Islands – Levanzo – is the cave drawings at the Grotta del Genovese. The prehistoric images of bison and deer and depictions of tuna, a dolphin, men and women are well worth the trip. The wall-art could date back 13,000 years and the location is thought to be a place where religious rituals took place.

Activities such as hiking, swimming, diving and experiencing the incredible history of this part of the island are, in fact, a very small taste of what is available. If you choose any of the beautiful villas in Sicily along the western coast, you’ll be truly spoilt with a magical combination of magnificent sceneryFeature Articles, culture and wonderful food and drink. What more can you ask?

About the Author

Jonathan Magoni is Senior Manager of Cottages to Castles, a family owned company specialising in high quality holiday villas, apartments and cottages in Italy.

Where to stay in Trapani

Hotels, apartments, villas and B&Bs can be searched and reserved here.

Exploring the Art, Film and Architecture of Sicily

Corleone
Corleone

In Sicily, villas may be challenging to get, but once you’ve booked, here are the places you must check out immediately.

The wonderful thing about the Italian island of Sicily is the fact that it is not as popular (and heavily crawling with tourists) as other destinations in the country. In Sicily, villas will not only allow you to save money, they will also give you the freedom to fully explore all the interesting sites of the island. The following are just some of the places that you should check out while there.

Visit the ‘Godfather’ Set Locations

Avid fans of Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘Godfather’ trilogy may find it thrilling to take the opportunity to visit the places where the films were shot. Corleone, where the Corleone family supposedly came from, is not particularly interesting, as the actual town does not really meet one’s expectations of a place that spawned the likes of Don Vito; however, you’ll not be disappointed with a visit to Forza D’Agro and Savoca, both close to the lovely (but touristy) city of Taormina. If you’re staying in Sicily, villas within access of Forza D’Agro and Savoca will give you a great base from which to explore. The towns themselves have an eerie (in a good way) feel and the ability to transport you to the past. The Bar Vitelli (which was featured in the first Godfather film) still looks every inch like it did back in the 1970s. Forza D’Agro’s famous cemetery is located on top of a very dominating hill, and makes for a fascinating exploration even for those who have not seen the Godfather films.

Jaw-dropping Art

The island’s cache of art and architecture is simply jaw dropping. In fact, in Sicily, villas to rent may even bear the best features of Baroque architecture, with intricately designed furniture and artistic works adorning the interiors. The art of the island is not concentrated on any one single place, and you will find the finest specimens of Baroque art and architecture throughout everywhere from Palermo to Catania.

Legacy from Greece

Due of its considerable Greek influence, in Sicily, villas may sometimes have a somewhat Greek appearance. In fact, on this Italian island you’ll find some of the best Greek temples this side of Athens. Many of the temples have undergone restoration, but the ones in what is known as “the Valley of the Temples”, in Agrigento, are mostly still standing on their own thousands of years’ old strength. These Greek temple sites also often have their own original theaters, such as the one found in Siracusa. The largest, most breath-taking examples can be found in the ancient Greek city of Selinunte, located in the southwest coast of the island. Selinunte is similar to Pompeii, although it is much more weathered, having none of the preservation assistance Pompeii received from having been buried under several meters of volcanic ash. OverallFree Web Content, the Greek cities and temples offer an unforgettable experience for lovers of history.

About the Author

Helen Forbes is from Essential Italy, a company specializing in Italian holiday villas, apartments and hotels.

Where to stay in Taormina

Hotels, apartments, villas and B&Bs can be searched and reserved here.

Holidays in Sicily: Marina di Ragusa

Marina di Ragusa
Marina di Ragusa

Thanks to the colors of its landscapes, to the number of artistic and cultural sites that all of its cities offer, to a crystal clear sea, and last but not least, to its wines and typical products, Sicily is an inexhaustible source or culture, amusement and relaxation. Every part of Sicily is worth a visit, no matter if you decide to visit the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, to sleep in Ragusa or to lay on Mondello beach: in any case you can be sure to spend an unforgettable holiday.

Sicily is much appreciated both by those tourists who wish to spend a few relaxation days, laying on the beach, sunbathing and freshening up swimming in a sea that could not be clearer than that, but also by those who use their days off to discover the artistic wonders that certainly in Italy are not lacking. The best choice, when you decide to visit Sicily, is mixing these two ideas of holiday, alternating a visit to the monuments and symbols of the beautiful Sicilian cities and a relaxing  day on the beach. As far as the cities to visit is concerned, in Sicily you are really spoiled for choice: from the historic center of Palermo, with Piazza Pretoria and the Cathedral, just to name two of the best-known sites of the city, to Catania, with its baroque monuments, there are plenty of things to see in Sicily. But Italian and foreign tourists do not appreciate only the big cities: also the smallest villages have much to offer. If you wish to spend unforgettable holidays in Sicily, for example, you can go to Marina di Ragusa.

Marina di Ragusa is a small village (about 2,500 inhabitants) in the province of Ragusa, but in spite of its small size, it is very popular and much appreciated by tourists. A fishing village in the beginning, with the passing of time Marina di Ragusa has become an important seaside resort, which has been awarded important prizes like the Blue Flag. And that is not all: according to yahoo.it and Tripadvisor, the beach of Marina di Ragusa has been ranked first among the most beautiful Italian beaches, with great satisfaction of Mayor Nello Dipasquale; this award, indeed, recognizes the efforts that have been made in the last few years to make Marina di Ragusa even more beautiful and welcoming. And those efforts have been recognized also by the 600,000 tourists that every summer decide to spend their holidays in this village, attracted by its golden beaches, by the amusements that it offers and by its proximity to many interesting artistic and cultural sites. And if you go to Marina di Ragusa in August you will also have the chance to take part in a series of events that are notably keenly felt by local people: until some decades ago on the 14th of August people celebrated the end of rural works, and nowadays people still celebrate, on the 15th of August, with a game called “legno a mare”, a long procession on the sea that includes many boatsComputer Technology Articles, theatre and music shows and the unmissable fireworks.

About the Author

Michele De Capitani

Where to stay in Marina di Ragusa

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Seaside: Sicily – Tourist guide and tips for an unforgettable vacation!

Taormina
Taormina

On the north western coast of Sicily, lying in the bay and kept one of the Zingaro nature reserve in the west and Mount Hood to the east, lies San Vito Lo Capo, the city of Cous Cous, flat symbol of peace and integration between peoples and cultures different.

Shining jewel and pride of a province, that of Trapani, waiting to be discovered, San Vito Lo Capo is an ancient village which preserves intact the strong Arab.

In this place, light, smells and tastes come together to create a landscape with colors typically Mediterranean and numerous suggestive: low white houses covered with bougainvillea, a white sand beach that overlooks a turquoise sea custodian of ancient treasures in a perfect embrace, one mile long, toward the Mediterranean.

Color and suggestions, including almond and olive trees of Castelluzzo, sunsets of Makari, springs and caves, the beams and the towers, but especially the scent of a rich and generous, that even food can be extraordinary. Between “busiate” bread “cunzatu and Cous Cous, kitchen San Vito, is an expression of a people to people simple and real.

Sincere hospitality, imaginative cuisine and the best wine of SicilyFind Article, conquered the visitor to walk to the places in this enchanted corner of Sicily.

About the Author

 Simone Benedetti

Where to stay in San Vito lo Capo

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I Love Italian Wine and Food – The Sicily Region

Pantelleria vineyard near the sea - Photo © *Clorofilla*
Pantelleria vineyard near the sea – Photo © *Clorofilla*

An article by: Levi Reiss

If you are looking for fine Italian wine and food, consider the Sicily region of southern Italy. You may find a bargain, and I hope that you’ll have fun on this fact-filled wine education tour.

Sicily is the football kicked by the Italian boot. It is an island in the Mediterranean Sea located off the southwest tip of Italy.

Sicily was first inhabited about ten thousand years ago. Agriculture and animal raising date back well over four thousand years.

Its rulers have included the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, Germans, and Spaniards, among others.

This mountainous region is prone to volcanoes and earthquakes; in 1908 an earthquake and subsequent tidal wave killed eighty thousand people in the coastal city of Messina. Sicily’s population is about five million, with an additional ten million people of Sicilian descent around the world.

Agricultural products include wheat, barley, corn, olives, citrus fruit, almonds, and, of course, grapes. Tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers are prominent in local cuisine. Sicily is Italy’s second region for organic food. Many think that the Arabs introduced pasta to Sicily, which subsequently introduced it to the rest of Italy. Cattle, mules, donkeys, and sheep are raised. Sicily claims to have invented meatballs, The seas surrounding Sicily are bountiful, favorites include sardines, tuna, and swordfish. Sicily is famous for desserts, including frozen treats made with snow from Mount Etna.

Sicilian heavy industry includes petro-chemicals, chemicals, mining, and electronics. Tourism is a major factor in the Sicilian economy. Did you know that the Valle dei Templi in Agrigento on the Mediterranean Sea has some of the finest Greek ruins on earth?

Palermo, arguably the world’s most conquered city, is Sicily’s capital with a population of a little under seven hundred thousand. It is a definite tourist destination, with its numerous historical churches, museums, theaters, and Italy’s largest botanical garden. Another urban tourist destination is Syracuse, dating back to Ancient Greece. The Greek writer Cicero described it as “The greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all.” Both earthquakes and World War II caused heavy damage, but many of the most interesting sites have been reconstructed.

Sicily devotes about a third of a million acres to grapevines, it ranks first among the 20 Italian regions. Its total annual wine production is about 213 million gallons, also giving it first place. If Sicily were an independent country, it would rank seventh in the world for wine production. About 54% of its wine production is red or rose’ (only a bit of rose’), leaving 46% for white. The region produces 19 DOC wines. DOC stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata, which may be translated as Denomination of Controlled Origin, presumably a high-quality wine. Only a little more than 2% of Sicilian wine carries the DOC designation. Sicily is home to over three dozen major and secondary grape varieties, with more white than red varieties.

Widely grown international white grape varieties include Malvasia and to a lesser extent, Chardonnay. The best-known strictly Italian white varieties are Catarratto, Grecanico, Inzolia, and Grillo. The first three of these varieties are blended in the wine reviewed below.

Widely grown international red grape varieties include Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. The best-known strictly Italian red varieties are Nero d’Avola, Frappato, and Nerello Mascalese.

Before reviewing the Sicilian wine and cheese that we were lucky enough to purchase at a local wine store and a local Italian food store, here are a few suggestions of what to eat with indigenous wines when touring this beautiful region. Start with Insalata di Finocchi, Arance Sanguigne de Olive; Fennel, Blood Orange, and Olive Salad. As a second course try Pollo con Prosciutto e Melanzane Fritte; Braised Chicken with Proscuitto and Fried Eggplants. For dessert indulge yourself with Cassata; Candied Fruit and Chocolate on Sponge Cake.

Wine Reviewed Tasca d’Almerita ‘Regaleali’ Blanco 2005 IGT Sicilia 12.5% alcohol about $13

We’ll start by quoting the marketing materials. “Made with the local grapes Inzolia, Greciano, and Catarratto, this wine is matured only in stainless steel and is not put through acid-softening malolactic fermentation. The producer chooses this approach to retain the bright fruitiness and racy crispness of the wine. Enjoy with steamed mussels, chicken or summer salads.” And now for my thoughts on the wine.

I first tasted this wine with broiled chicken burgers accompanied by a hot pepper relish, and red peppers. The wine was light, perhaps a bit intimidated by the relish. It was delicate, but not weak. When I finished my glass with the red peppers, the wine was quite fruity and sweet.

I next tried this wine with fillet of sole poached in an onion sauce, accompanied by brown rice and okra in a tomato sauce. The wine tasted light and citrusy in the presence of the fish, and was more powerful when facing the rice and the okra. I finished that meal with fresh pomegranate. The wine became sweet and acidic, but did not take on new flavors.

Isola is a Sicilian fresh cheese made from sheep’s milk. The Isola cheese was powerful, strong smelling and strong tasting, especially when you crunched into a peppercorn. Unfortunately, the cheese overpowered this relatively light wine. In contrast, when paired with an Asiago cheese from northern Italy, the wine became quite full bodied and fruity. Sometimes rules such as local wines with local cheeses are meant to be broken.

I had a bit of wine left over and finished the bottle with out-of-season strawberries. They brought out the wine’s complexity and softness.

Final verdict, in spite of its low official rating, I found the wine pretty good. I would buy it again, but avoid strong tasting food.

About the Author

Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. His wine website is www.theworldwidewine.com. You can reach him at ital@mail.theworldwidewine.com.

Sicily Wine

Oranges and vineyards under the Etna Vulcano - Photo © joe_ripa
Oranges and vineyards under the Etna Vulcano – Photo © joe_ripa

Contrasts are not the least of those things in which Sicily abounds. So perhaps it is not surprising that this ancient island boasts one of Italy’s most progressive wine industries or that a region noted chiefly in the past for strong and often sweet amber Marsala and Moscato has switched the emphasis toward lighter, fruitier winesÒmainly white but also red. Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean, has more vineyards than any other Italian region. Yet, with the emphasis shifting from quantity to quality, wine production has diminished recently to slightly less than that of Veneto.

A major share of the DOC is represented by Marsala, a wine originated by English merchant traders two centuries ago. Marsala remains Sicily’s proudest wine despite the not so distant era of degradation when it was used mainly for cooking or flavored with various syrups and sweeteners. Recently it has enjoyed a comeback among connoisseurs, who favor the dry Marsala Vergine and Superiore Riserva with the warmly complex flavors that rank them with the finest fortified wines of Europe.

Sicily’s rising status among Italy’s wine producing regions is reflected in the recent promotion of Cerasuolo di Vittoria to DOCG; that pale but potent red from Nero d’Avola. Frappato is recognized as Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico from around the town of Vittoria. Other wines from the surrounding area may become Vittoria DOC.

A major share of Sicily’s DOC production is represented by Marsala, a wine originated by English merchant traders two centuries ago. Marsala, Sicily’s proudest traditional wine, has enjoyed a comeback among connoisseurs, who favor the dry Vergine and Superiore Riserva with the warmly complex flavors that rank them with the finest fortified wines of Europe.

The other DOC wine made in quantity is the pale white, bone dry Bianco d’Alcamo, part of the broader Alcamo appellation. Moscato di Pantelleria, from the remote isle off the coast of Tunisia, is among the richest and most esteemed of Italian sweet wines in the Naturale and Passito Extra versions.

Malvasia delle Lipari, from the volcanic Aeolian isles, is a dessert wine as exquisite as it is rare. The dry white and red wines of Etna, whose vines adorn the lower slopes of the volcano, show class. Production of the other traditional DOCs – the dry, red Faro and the sweet Moscatos of Noto and Siracusa – has been slight in recent times, but the volume of premium wine has increased somewhat with the addition of DOCs from various parts of the island.

The greatest surge in volume of quality wine has come not with DOC/DOCG – which still represents only about 5 percent of total production – but with the rapid expansion of IGT, primarily under the regionwide Sicilia appellation. Many fine wines come from native varieties, notably Nero d’Avola (or Calabrese), Nerello Mascalese and Perricone (or Pignatello) among the reds and Inzolia and Grecanico among the whites. Also prominent are international varieties such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah, which show real promise in Sicily whether as single varietals or in blends.

About 75 percent of Sicily’s wine is produced by cooperatives, but the number of privately owned estates has been growing. Prominent wine houses from northern and central Italy have invested in vineyards and cellars on the island. Methods of vine training in the sunny, temperate hills have been improved to reduce yields of grapes for wines of real character.

The Sicilia wines match very well the Sicilia cuisine, with its local recipes.

sicilia_uliveto

Sicily Wines:

DOCG Wine
Cerasuolo di Vittoria

DOC Wine
Alcamo or Bianco d’Alcamo
Contea di Sclafani
Contessa Entellina
Delia Nivolelli
Eloro
Erice
Etnai
Faro
Malvasia delle Lipari
Mamertino di Milazzo
Marsala
Menfi
Monreale
Moscato di Noto
Moscato di Pantelleria
Moscato di Siracusa
Moscato Passito di Pantelleria
Riesi
Salaparuta
Sambuca di Sicilia
Santa Margherita di Belice
Sciacca
Vittoria

IGT Wine
Camarro
Colli Ericini
Fontanarossa di Cerda
Salemi
Salina
Sicilia
Valle Belice

I Love Italian Wine and Food – The Sicily Region

The five civilizations of Magna Graecia Part 2: from Reggio Calabria to Palermo

cartina8

An incredible fusion of races, civilizations and systems of government; an unexpected interweaving of customs and habits; and an ever-changing and astonishing variety of landscapes with volcanoes and forests, seas and mountains are the attractions which await the tourist on his long journey from Naples to the wonders of Sicily.

The itinerary:

From REGGIO CALABRIA the following day we take the ferry across the straits, and land at MESSINA.

Messina

MESSINA. A few hours will suffice to visit this city which was almost completely destroyed and rebuilt twice in this century: after the earthquake in 1908 and the bombardments in 1943, Of the original Norman structure of the Cathedral (1168) only the lower part of the facade and the magnificent Gothic portals have remained (inside, remains of ancient mosaics in the apse).

Nearby is the church of SS. Annunziata dei Catalani, an elegant combination of Romanesque and Arab-Norman architecture, with a remarkable Apse. We should also visit the important National Museum in the former church of San Gregorio. Noteworthy are: a Polyptych by Antonello do Messina, works by his pupils, two fine paintings by Caravaggio, works by Mattia Preti, ancient, medieval, and Renaissance sculptures, among the latter some by Lantana.

Before leaving Messina we advise paying a visit to the nearby Aeolian Islands, with their wild rocky coasts falling sheer into the sea; there are seven of them – Lipari, Vulcano, Salina, Panarea, Stromboli, Filicudi and Alicudi; they are ideal for a holiday that is different and fascinating.

After Messina one follows the impressive east coast of Sicily through citrus groves and little fishing villages among the rocks; on the other side of the Strait rises the coast of Calabria, dominated by the Aspromontc. After Capo S. Alessio and Forza d’Agro, perched on a high cliff, we reach (32 miles from Messina) Taormina-Giardini, from which we drive up to TAORMINA.

Where to stay in Messina

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Taormina

TAORMINA, one of the most beautiful places in Italy, situated on a terrace facing the sea and the snowy slopes of Mt. Etna. A Greek and later (4th century) a Roman colony, Taormina was destroyed and rebuilt by the Arabs and subsequently passed into the hands of the Normans in 1069. Its most important buildings date from the end of the Middle Ages, such as the delightful Tower of the Badia Vecchia, which dominates the town, the Cathedral, the Palazzo Santo Stefano and the crenellated Palazzo Corvaia which stands next to the 16th century church of S. Caterina.

From classical times there remain a few Greek wall and temple bases and, above all, the magnificent Greek Theatre, which was almost entirely rebuilt by the Romans and is the largest in Sicily after that in Syracuse.

Where to stay in Taormina

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We shall remain in Taormina all of the next day, to enjoy its unrivaled beauty and relax after our journey through Calabria. In the morning, we continue down the coast skirting the foot of Mt. Etna. After 22 miles, we reach ACIREALE.

ACIREALE. Founded by the Greeks, then under Roman and Norman rule, Acireale was destroyed by two earthquakes and rebuilt in its present Baroque style which is to be noted particularly in the impressive and elaborately decorated church of San Sebastiano. Another 10 miles and we come to CATANIA.

Taormina - Photo Alessandro Rossi
Taormina – Photo Alessandro Rossi

Catania

CATANIA, at the foot of Mt. Etna. Founded by the Greeks in 729 B.C., Catania became a Roman colony in 263 and was an important center during the reign of the Normans, Swabians and Bourbons. We shall start our tour through the town from the Piazza del Duomo with the fanciful Elephant Fountain in the middle.

Facing on to the square are the suggestive Palazzo del Municipio and the Baroque facade of the Cathedral by Vaccarini, the architect who reconstructed the most important buildings of Catania after the earthquake in 1693. The three original Apses of this once powerful medieval edifice (1169) can still be seen. Inside, rich works of art, medieval and Renaissance sculptures, and the Tomb of Vincenzo Bellini. Following Via Colombo and Via del Plebiscite, we come to the impressive Castello Ursino, a masterpiece of Swabian military architecture, which houses the Museo Civico, with a rich collection of Greek and Roman sculptures, and the Picture Gallery. Taking Via del Castello Ursino past Corso Garibaldi and Via Vittorio Emanuele, we turn to the right and enter the charming Via dei Crociferi, lined with delightful 18th century facades and balconies, Nearby, to the left, is the Greek Theatre and next to it the small Odeon. We then go along Via Einea, a stupendous straight street which has Mt. Etna as background. In Piazza Stesicoro we see the ruins of the Roman Amphitheatre and, further on, the lovely Bellini Gardens. Still keeping to the left, we walk to the huge 18th century church and convent of S. Nicolo all’Arena a monumental Baroque complex, dominated by the lofty dome of the church. We then descend to the Baroque Porta Garibaldi.

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Syracuse

SYRACUSE. Founded in the 8th century B.C. on the tiny island of Ortygia, Syracuse was for centuries the largest and most powerful Greek city in the West which, under the rule of the tyrants Gelon, Hieron, Dionysius, Agothocles and Hieron II, had spread to the mainland. It declined with the Roman conquest and during the Middle Ages the inhabited area became confined once more to the island, though it regained some of its importance during the reigns of the Swabian and Aragonese kings. Devastated by the earthquake in 1693, it was partly rebuilt in its resent Baroque style.

Latomia del Paradiso - Photo Dominic Torrisi
Latomia del Paradiso – Photo Dominic Torrisi

We shall begin our tour with a visit to the archaeological monuments of the ancient town on the hill of Neapolis (the Greek word for “new city”) where we find the Roman Amphitheatre, a grandiose construction hollowed in the living rock at the time of Emperor Augustus.

Continuing upwards, beyond the small Norman church of S. Nicole, we see the altar of Hieron II to the left and, to the right, the ancient quarry with rocky walls known as the Latomia del Paradise, in which is the artificial cave called the Ear of Dionysius. Next to it, in a stupendous position overlooking the plain and the sea, is the Greek Theatre (467 B.C.), where Aeschylus, Pindar and Plato appeared.

Behind the Theatre rises a high rocky wall known as the Grotto of the Nymph, so called from a spring which still gushes from a cavern in the rock. We climb up the Via dei Sepolcri (the Street of Tombs) into the rocky sides of which are hewn the niches and tombs of an ancient necropolis. It is worth while continuing for another 5 miles on to the Castle of Euryalus, the mightiest and most complete fortress of Greek times, standing on the top of the Epipoli, the hill overlooking Syracuse.

On our way down, through Corso Galore, we come to Piazzale Marconi, where we find the ruins of the Roman Forum: following Corso Umberto I we cross the Ponte Nuevo over to the island of Ortygia where, in Piazza Pancali, we see the remains of a Temple of Apollo, the oldest of its kind in Sicily, which was later transformed into a mosque by the Arabs.

Through Via Savoia where, on the left, we pass the small 16th century Catalan church of S. Maria dei Miracoli with a remarkable portal, we come to Porta Marina, an arch in Spanish-Gothic style (15th century) which stands at the end of the Porto Grande (Great Harbor). Through the Foro Italico, we reach the famous Fountain of Arethusa, a freshwater spring on the seashore, celebrated in song by Pindar, Vergil, and many modern poets.

Continuing along the waterfront to the far end of the island, we reach the Maniace Castle, a beautiful Byzantine fortress which was enlarged under Frederick II. Returning to the fountain and through Via Capodieci, we come to the 13th century Palazzo Bellomo, which houses the Medieval Museum and a good Picture Gallery, where we must see the delightful Annunciation by Antonello da Messina.

We go on to Piazza del Duomo, which is lined with the ravishing facade of Barone edifices: the 17th century Palazzo del Municipio (Town Hall), the 18th century Palazzo Beneventano del Bosco whose Courtyard is a masterpiece of Syracuse Baroque architecture and the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, which contains one of the most important archaeological collections in Italy, with the magnificent Venus Anadyomene (also known as the Landolino Venus), sarcophagi, pottery, bronzes, etc.

The Cathedral has also a Baroque facade, but its severe and evocative interior is dominated by the impressive Doric column of the original Temple of Minerva. Among the numerous works of art, a panel by Antenello da Messina is of particular interest.

From the Piazza del Duomo, we reach the nearby Piazza Archimede, the heart of the city, with the Fountain) Artemis, the Palazzo Lanza with two-light Gothic windows, the building of the Banca d’Italia, and, on the corner of Via Montalto, the extremely beautiful Palazzo Montalto.

On the morning of the next day, we leave Syracuse by Viale Ermocrate and, skirting the hill of Neapolis, we cross the Anapo river and drive uphill to Floridia (7 miles), and further up, through a harsh mountainous landscape to Palazzolo Acreide. Built on the site of the Syracuse colony of Acrae, this little town was destroyed by the earthquake in 1693 and rebuilt in its present Baroque style. A charming Greek Theatre and an Odeon of the ancient town are well preserved. We now cross the Iblei Hills, pass through Buccheri and Vizzimi and, after 15 miles, we reach Grammichele. In spite of its modest appearance we must not forget that it presents one of the most important examples of Renaissance town planning; the hexagonal lay-out becomes clearly evident when seen from above and it might be a good idea, therefore, to try to find a photograph of the town plan. After about 66 miles from Syracause we come to CALTAGIRONE, beautifully situated on three hills. This little town, founded by the early Greeks, was reconstructed in the Baroque style after the earthquake of 1693. Worth seeing are: Via Cordova with its handsome Baroque facade, the neo-Gothic church of S. Pietro and the church of S. Giacomo. From Caltarigone we take the road to PIAZZA ARMERINA (20 miles).

Where to stay in Syracuse

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Piazza Armerina

PIAZZA ARMERINA (20 miles) and three miles after we reach the town, we have, to our left, the ruins of the Villa Romana del Casale, one of the most impressive archaeological sites in Sicily. The luxurious residence of millionaires during the times of the Roman Empire, it is famous, above all, for its marvelous mosaics, and especially for the one depicting ten girls wearing a garment which we thought was a modern invention, the bikini. In the town of Piazza Armerina, founded by the Lombards during the Middle Ages, there is a stately 16th century Cathedral the lovely church of San Pietro, and the small 13th century church of S. Giovanni di Rodi.

We continue our drive through a beautiful landscape of solitary hills, past the junction for Enna on our right (17 miles from Piazza Armerina) and, after 13 more miles, we come to CALTANISSETTA (I18 miles from Syracuse). In Piazza Garibaldi stands the Baroque Cathedral with a lavishly decorated interior. It would be advisable to eat lunch in Caltanissetta before taking the road which, through Serradifalco and Canicatti, descends amidst vineyards almond and olive groves, to AGRIGENTO.

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Agrigento

AGRIGENTO. Founded in 582 B.C., Agrigento flourished under the reign of the tyrant Therone (488-473) but was destroyed by the Carthaginians and finally occupied and rebuilt by the Romans in 210 B.C.

It was a majestic and large city which comprised all of the hill (the center of the present town), where probably the Acropolis stood, and the socalled Valley of the Temples, which was enclosed by 7 1/2 miles of walls.

Roman Bikinis at Piazza Armerina Photo © Mauro Manmano
Roman Bikinis at Piazza Armerina Photo © Mauro Manmano

During the Middle Ages, only the hill town existed and it first started spreading downhill in modern times. In the upper town, we will visit the imposing Monastery of S. Spirito (1290), built in Gothic style with elegant decorations and the extremely rich and very important. National Archaeological Museum close at hand.

In the modern town, we pass by the beautiful Gothic church of S. Nicola, in the ancient Greek-Roman quarter, beyond which begins the Valley of the Temples. There were once about 20 temples, the ruins of which are in various states of preservation. We notice immediately the Temple of Hercules, with archaic capitals. On the right side of the road, we now see the colossal Olympieion (Temple of Olympian Jove) and, beyond it, the picturesque corner of the Temple o Castor and Pollux.

Beyond the Temple of Hercules, in a beautiful olive grove, is the so-called Tomb of Theron, Turning left, we come to the gem of, ancient Agrigcnto, the so-called Temple of Concord, which rivals in beauty and perfect preservation the temples of Paestum and even the Theseion at Athens. The magnificent structure is rendered even more majestic by the high steps of the plinth upon which it rests and by the gentle landscape in which it stands. The last of the large temples, the Temple of Juno Lacinia, is standing on a hill surrounded by olive trees.

Where to stay in Agrigento

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Porto Empedocle - La Scala dei Turchi - Photo myriapod
Porto Empedocle – La Scala dei Turchi – Photo myriapod

The next morning we drive west out of Agrigento for about 5 miles to Porto Empedocle, from where the road follows the coast of southern Sicily with its numerous beaches and bathing resorts.

We come, through Montallegro (where nearby the ruins of the ancient city of Heracleia Minoa have been recently exavated); then through Ribera and 43 miles from Agrigento, through Sciacca, with the church of S. Margherim (portal by Laurana) and the 15th century Palazzo Steripinto with rusticated walls, and Menfi.

About 66 miles from Agrigento, we reach a junction where we take the road towards the sea which, after 3 miles, leads us to ruins of SELINUNTE.

Selinunte

SELINUNTE. This was once a town which represented the furthermost point of Greek penetration into the territory of Carthage and was destroyed by the Carthaginians in 250 B.C.

The grandiose solitary ruins, on the shores of the sea, constitute one of the most impressive attractions of Magna Graecia. We take the same road back to the junction and continue on inland to CASTELVETRANO. In this town which is of medieval origin, there is a delightful Renaissance church, the Chieso Madre, and an outstanding Baroque interior in the church of San Domenico. About 2 miles west of the town, there is the famous Norman church of the Trimta (or of Delia). From Castelvetrano, the road goes through S. Nina and Salemi (16 miles) and passes the outskirts of Calatafimi, from where it leads us to the ruins of SEGESTA.

Where to stay in Selinunte

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Segesta

SEGESTA, another evocative Greek town. It was destroyed by the Byzantines and only a Temple and a Theatre have remained, standing on Monte Barbaro in majestic and silent solitude. About 34 miles from Castelvetrano, we reach ALCAMO, a picturesque medieval town, overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Gulf of Castellammare. In the upper part of Alcamo, there is a Castle and further down we find the 16th century church of the Madonna dei Miracoli, the church of San Tommaso with its Gothic facade, and numerous medieval and Baroque buildings. From Alcamo the road descends to Partinico (12 miles) and after another 18 miles we reach Monreale, which we will visit on the last day. Through the enchanting scenery of the Conca d’Oro, amidst magnificent orange groves, we are now coming to the capital of Sicily PALERMO.

Palermo

PALERMO. An ancient Phoenician base, Palermo became a Roman city in 253 A.D. After the Barbarian invasion, it was dominated, in turn, by the Byzantines, the Arabs, an We will begin our tour of the town at the richly ornamented Porta Nuova, at the end of Corso Vittorio Emanuele. To the right, in the middle of a vast garden, stands the Palazzo Reale, built by the Norman King Roger II, from whose-time nothing remains on the outside, but the Tower of S. Ninfa; the vast facade was rebuilt during the Baroque period. We enter a handsome 17th century Courtyard, from which a great staircase leads to the Cappella Palatina, the jewel of ArabNorman art (1140) with delightful mosaics on a gold ground which shines in the rich and and mysterious half-light and with a wooden ceiling in the central nave, which is a splendid example of Arab workmanship. On the next floor are the royal apartments with Baroque and neoclassical decorations.

Leaving the palace, we come to the nearby church of S. Giovanni degli Eremiti, which was likewise built by Roger II. Its round red domes and the luxuriant, tropical vegetation of the enchanting cloister evoke the delicate image of some distant corner of the Orient. We proceed to Piazza della Vittoria, where we see the superb Palazzo Sclafani, whose noble 14th century facade faces Piazza S. Giovanni. We return to Corso Vittorio Emanuele and arrive in Piazza della Cattedrale.

The Cathedral, which dominate this square, has been built and rebuilt in several styles over the centuries. The original building dates from 1185, but the dome, beautiful in itself, though out of keeping with the rest of the edifice, was built by the architect Ferdinando Fuga at the end of the 18th century. On the right side, there is an impressive Gothic arcade and an elaborate Portal by Gambara (15th century). The facadeo dates essentially from the 14th and 15th centuries and is connected by two pointed arches with the curious bell-tower opposite, which was restored in the 19th century.

The interior, unfortunately restored by the architect of the dome, Ferdinando Fuga, contains the majestic, but solemn, Tombs of the Norman and Swabian Kings, of which the most important is that of Frederick II of Swabia, the greatest monarch in Europe after Julius Caesar. We now continue down Corso Vittorio Ema-nuele, towards the center of town. To the right, we have the church of S. Salvatore with a lavish interior, and further on the church of S. Giuseppe dei Teatini, richly adorned with marbles, frescoes and stuccoes. We have thus reached the Quattro Canti (Four Corners), the scenographic crossroads of Corso Vittorio Emanuele and the magnificent Via Maqueda the heart of Baroque Palermo.

Across Via Maqueda, on the right side, we come to Piazza Pretoria where, apart from the monumental Tuscan Renaissance Fountain, we sec the facade of the Palazzo del Municipio (Town Hall). In the adjacent Piazza Bellini, we find the churches of S. Caterina, an elegant, purely Baroque edifice, and S. Maria dell’Ammiraglio (known as La Martorana) which behind its Baroque facade preserves a splendid Norman interior (1143) with Mosaics, interrupted here and there by interior 18th century frescoes.

We must sec the charming Cloister and note the elegant 12th century Bell-tower, the most beautiful Arab-Norman structure in Palermo, before visiting the nearby church of San Cataldo (1160), another masterpiece of Arab-Norman architecture, with an austere interior and three red domes in Saracen style. We then go back to Via Maqueda and, following a small lane, across this street, we come to Piazza Quaranta Martiri where stands Palazzo Marchesi with a magnificent Gothic Courtyard and a 15th century Tower which rises next to the Baroque bell-tower of the adjacent Casa Professa (or Gesu).

We now return to Piazza Bellini, from where we take the Discesa dei Giudici and, past the church of Sant’Anna. continue straight to Piazza Rivoluzione and the nearby Palazzo Aiutamicristo, which has a magnificent Portico in the courtyard. Behind the Palace is the church of SS. Trinita (also called the Magione), from which we will go in the direction of the harbour, through the ancient Arab quarter of the Kalsa. In Via Torremura we pass the church of S. Teresa and, at the corner of Via Alloro, the church of Madonna della Pieta, with the most beautiful Baroque facade in Palermo which resembles that of churches in Rome of the same period. Along the narrow old Via AItoro lined with beautiful palaces, we come to the Gothic-Renaissance Palazzo Abbatellis with a Tower.

The Palace houses the National Gallery of Sicily where we may admire the fresco, Triumph of Death, from the second half of the 15th century, paintings by Antonello da Messina and his school, by Gossaert, and by Garofalo, ceramics and sculpture by Giunta, Pisano, and particulary the magnificent bust of Eleonora of Aragon, by Lantana.

Not far from the Museum is the Church of S. Maria degli Angell (known as La Gancia) with a 15th century- Invade and a richly decorated interior. On the right side of the nearby Piazza Marina stands the 14th century Palazzo Chiaramonte and near the harbour, the church of S. Maria della Catena.

Returning to Piazza Marina with the Garibaldi Gardens in the center, we notice the Palazzo San Cataldo and the small church of S. Maria dei Miracoli, both built in Renaissance style. Along Via Merlo we come to the magnificent Gothic church of San Francesco d’Assisi (13th century) with a fine rose window in the facade and beautiful Renaissance choir-stalls and sculptures in the interior. Near by is the Oratorio di San Lorenzo, whose stucco decoration of the interior is the masterpiece of Giacomo Serpotta.

It should not yet be too late in the afternoon to take a trip to Monte Pellegrino or to the ruins of SOLUNTO, an ancient GraecoRoman city on the sea at Cape Zafferano near Bagheria. On our second day inPalermo, we will start from Piazza Quattro Canti and walk down from Maqueda to Piaz On the way back, we go to Piazza Olivella, to visit the National Archaeological Museum.

Set in a former convent with lovely rooms and courtyards, it contains the most remarkable and important collection of Greek antiquities in Italy with countless sculptures, mosaics, ceramics. coins, and, above all, the celebrated Metopes from the temples of Selinunte.za Verdi and the Teatro Massimo, to have a look at the modern town.

Leaving the Museum, we go to the Piazza San Domenico with the beautiful Baroque church of San Domenico and from there to S. Maria la Nuova (16th century).

Solunto - Photo © psub
Solunto – Photo © psub

In the afternoon, we will first visit the Palace known as La Zisa, one of the few secular buildings remaining intact from the Norman period, which we reach from Porta Nuova by way of Via Colonna Rotta and Via Zisa, Then, taking Via dei Cipressi, we come to the famous Convento dei Cappuccini, once the burial place of the wealthy citiziens of Palermo whose remains, reduced to skeletons, create a scene which is at once gruesome and grotesque. We return to Porta Nuova and follow Corso Calatafimi. At No. 94, inside the Tukory Barracks, we find the Cuba, another Norman palace (1180), which was built on the model of the Zisa and whose dome is visible even from the street.

Where to stay in Palermo

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Monreale

The rest of the afternoon we will use for visiting the wonderful Cathedral of Monreale. We follow the straight Corso Calatafimi which, climbing slightly, takes us (5 miles from the center of Palermo) to MONREALE.

MONREALE. Originally an Arab village, this small town grew up round the Cathedral built by William II in 1174. It is the most beautiful Norman church in Sicily and one of the most fabulous architectural works of the Middle Ages. The three-arch arcade in the facade, however, dates from the 18th century. We should start our visit by walking round the outside of the church to admire the three apses, with their warm brownish hue, the finest architectural part of the building. We enter the church through the main portal with bronze doors by Bonanno Pisano (1186), or through the side portal with bronze doors of the same period, and no less beautiful, by Barisano da Trani. The stately interior, which rest on 18 columns from Roman temples, is adorned with the most magnificent mosaics in Southern Italy, representing the whole cycle of the Old and New Testaments, and converging on the enormous figure of Christ (Pantocrator) in the apse. To conclude, we must visit the enchanting Cloister.

Recommended itineraries in Italy

Messina: the legend of Ruggero and Morgana

Messina

So the legend goes in Messina that Ruggero the Norman, one day in the year 1060, was walking alone on a beach  in Calabria. He was looking at the Peloritian coast calculating the most efficient way to conquest Sicily, then occupied by the Arabs who had turned it into a rich and prosperous Muslim land.

It so happened that some time before, some courageous cavaliers from Messina were able to get past the Arabs and reach Ruggero at Mileto of Calabria. They expressed the will of the Sicilian people to have Ruggero as their liberator and ruler. this was not only for the Arabs behavior as usurpers and Tyrants.

On the other hand they had done much for the modernization of Sicily making it prosperous and independent; But mostly due their “Caids” who here in such conflict among themselves that they began to destroy and plunder the land and create conflict even among the local population.

And as always, those who bore the burden were most Sicilians, rich and poor alike. Ruggero had already been to Sicily with Giorgio Maniace, an important Bizantine General from 1038 to 1040. They had been sent there by Michael  IV , emperor of Costantinople in order to rid the island of Arabs an to return it once again under the emperor’s rule.

The attempt was unsuccessful due to the Norman troops disassociation from the task, not content about how the loot was being divided. They returned to southern Italy, to Calabria to conquest rich terrains.

Now Ruggero was begged by the people of Messina and was seriously considering another attempt at the conquest of the island.

He would even be supported by the caid of  Catania, who was in conflict with the other Arab Caids of  Sicily. Ruggero thought to rid the island of Muslims, who were in possession of it for two hundred years and re-cristianize the island, in the Latin sense.

But the Arabs very well prepared in matters of  war, therefore this endeavor of Ruggero’s was difficult and risky even with the help that was promised him by brother, Roberto duke of Calabria and Puglia, he only had a small nucleus of Cavaliers and  few troops of soldiers.

He was therefore so taken by his state of mediation and by the intense aroma of the Citrus Flowers (Zagara) in bloom, when suddenly coming from the Sicilian coast he thought he could hear martial war music, alternated with cries and laments of slaves and of pagan imprecations. Hi stopped curious.

An old hermit lived nearby, who had a reputation for his wisdom. Ruggero decided to pay him a visit after having greeted him politely, asked about this mysterious and rare encounter.

The hermit extended his arm and with one finger pointed to Sicilian coast. There, the oranges are in bloom…he said. there music but also crying can be heard…there the Saracens dance and the Christians cry in slavery! I am told you are powerful and also Christian…. why do you not fight and die for your faith?

Ruggero remained silent, he continued walking thinking about Sicily, the Sea began to seethe before him. From a circle of foam on the surface appeared the head of a beautiful fairy, the fata Morgana, carnal sister of King author of England.

She has beautiful kingdoms around the world but in the strait of Messina she possesses the oldest and most beautiful building, and half of all the fairies and Good witches of the the Mediterranean.

She , slowly, emerged with her body and then Ruggero saw her climb up a white and blue carriage that had appeared and when she made a pulling gesture, seven white horses with blue manes took there place, waiting impatiently to cast off in an absurd race over the sea.

The fairy was ready to head south, when on the coast nearby she noticed the worried Ruggero walking slowly. What is it that you are pondering? Shouted Morgana heading in his direction. If it is what I Imagine climb up my carriage and I will take you to Sicily right away, together with a powerful army… Ruggero smiled and greeted Morgana respectfully.

Then gently but firmly , responded: I thank you oh Morgana, but if the Madonna who i Love , and the Saints who protect me will give me their blessing, I will then go to war on my horse and I will transport my army with my ships and I will win by own merit and not for enchantments of a fairy. the Morgana raised her wand three times in the air and threw three white stones into the sea. Look at the power I have, oh Ruggero!… and in that very spot houses, buildings  villas appeared and the Sicilian coast seemed so close that it could be reached by a small leap. There you are , Sicily! Leap on the her, reach Messina and I will make certain that you find the strongest and largest army that you have ever had in war… Ruggero nevertheless impressed by such an enchantment, smiling still refused the offer.

Oh Morgana! you are a great fairy, worthy of the lineage from which you descend. But it will not  be by enchantment that I liberate Sicily from paganism. It will be given to me by Christ, our lord and by his mother, the Virgin Mary whom I have already chosen and adopted as my divine Mother. But thank you, for the offer. Morgana no longer waited. She was a good fairy and therefore respected all convictions, even religious ones, although she herself obviously did not believe in the Madonna or in Saints. she again shook her magic wand in the air and the castles, the streets and villas suddenly disappeared. Away, horses! she yelled laughing from Joy in the sun that flooded the two sides of the strait with light. And her carriage took off at a high speed pulled by beautiful horses towards the southern part  of the island, towards the southern of the island, towards the beaches of Etna. Ruggero, as we know, landed on the shores of Messina in the springtime of 1061 and in a little more than ten years of war, often fought ferociously, and without  having been hit hard, was able to liberate Sicily from the Arab domination. His descendants formed a Kingdom and turned it into one of the most rich and advanced lands of that time.

Where to stay in Messina

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