The Rough Guide to Sicily (Travel Guide eBook)
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307 pages

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The Rough Guide to Sicily

Make the most of your time on Earth with the ultimate travel guides.
World-renowned 'tell it like it is' travel guide.

Discover Sicily with this comprehensive and entertaining travel guide, packed with practical information and honest recommendations by our independent experts. Whether you plan to climb Mount Etna, relax on the golden sands of Cefalù or explore the Valley of the Temples, the Rough Guide to Sicily will help you discover the best places to explore, eat, drink, shop and sleep along the way.

Features of this travel guide to Sicily:
Detailed regional coverage: provides practical information for every kind of trip, from off-the-beaten-track adventures to chilled-out breaks in popular tourist areas
Honest and independent reviews: written with Rough Guides' trademark blend of humour, honesty and expertise, our writers will help you make the most from your trip to Sicily
Meticulous mapping: practical full-colour maps, with clearly numbered, colour-coded keys. Find your way around Palermo, Catania and many more locations without needing to get online
Fabulous full-colour photography: features inspirational colour photography, including the magnificent cave-riddled canyon of Cava Grande del Fiume Cassibile and the spectacular views of the Madonie mountains
- Time-saving itineraries: carefully planned routes will help inspire and inform your on-the-road experiences
Things not to miss: Rough Guides' rundown of Ragusa Ibla, Sampieri, Linosa and Monreale's best sights and top experiences
Travel tips and info: packed with essential pre-departure information including getting around, accommodation, food and drink, health, the media, festivals, sports and outdoor activities, culture and etiquette, shopping and more
Background information: comprehensive 'Contexts' chapter provides fascinating insights into Sicily, with coverage of history, religion, ethnic groups, environment, wildlife and books, plus a handy language section and glossary
Covers: Palermo; Cefalù; the Monit Madonie; the Aeolian Islands; Messina; Taormina; the northeast; Catania; Etna; SIracusa; Enna; Agrigento; the southwest; Trapani; the west

You may also be interested in: The Rough Guide to Italy, The Rough Guide to Sardinia, The Rough Guide to Rome

About Rough Guides: Rough Guides have been inspiring travellers for over 35 years, with over 30 million copies sold globally. Synonymous with practical travel tips, quality writing and a trustworthy 'tell it like it is' ethos, the Rough Guides list includes more than 260 travel guides to 120+ destinations, gift-books and phrasebooks.



Publié par
Date de parution 01 mars 2020
Nombre de lectures 2
EAN13 9781789196627
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 5 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0034€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


Marco Simoni/AWL Images
Where to go
When to go
Author picks
Things not to miss
Tailor-made trips
Getting there
Getting around
Food and drink
The media
Sports and outdoor activities
Culture and etiquette
Travel essentials
1 Palermo and around
2 Cefalù and the Monti Madonie
3 The Aeolian Islands
4 Messina, Taormina and the northeast
5 Catania, Etna and around
6 Siracusa and the southeast
7 Enna and the interior
8 Agrigento and the southwest
9 Trapani and the west
The Mafia in Sicily
Sicilian Baroque
Introduction to
To say that Sicily isn’t Italy is trite but true – only 3km of water separate the island of Sicily from the Italian mainland, but the historical and cultural gulf is far wider, and locals see themselves as Sicilians first and Italians second. Strategically located at the heart of the Mediterranean, the island’s history is distinct from that of peninsular Italy, and some of the western world’s greatest civilizations have left their mark, from ancient Greek temples and Arabic street plans to stunning Norman mosaicked cathedrals and flamboyant Spanish Baroque palaces. Sicilian dialects thrive, while many place names are derived from the Arabic that was once in wide use across the island. Markets brim with produce that speaks firmly of the south – oranges, lemons, olives, rice, almonds and peppers – and ice cream can still be found flavoured with rose and jasmine petals, a sure sign of the island’s North African roots.
Moreover, the historic combination of island mentality and a wild, lawless, mountainous interior has fostered an “us-and-them” attitude that still defines the relationship between modern-day Sicily and Italy. The island was probably the most reluctantly unified of all Italian regions back in the nineteenth century, with Sicilians unsurprisingly suspicious of the intentions of the latest in a long line of rulers – Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, Angevins and Spanish. For many Sicilians, their place in the modern Italian state is illustrated every time they look at a map to see the island being kicked by the big boot of Italy – the perpetual football.
And Sicilians do have a point. Pockets of the island have been disfigured by bleak construction projects and unsightly industry, and despite Sicily’s limited political autonomy, little has really been done to tackle the more deep-rooted problems: youth unemployment is at an all-time high, emigration of the brightest is on the rise, poverty is seemingly endemic, and there’s an almost feudal attitude to business and commerce. Aid and investment pour in, but much is still siphoned off by the Mafia , while the daily arrivals during the summer months of refugees from Africa not only underline Sicily’s proximity to that continent but also its vulnerability. Visitors, of course, see little of this. Mafia activity, for example – almost a byword for Sicilian life when viewed from abroad – is usually an in-house affair, with little or no consequence for travellers.

FACT FILE Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean, with extensive areas of mountains in the north and east, the highest being Mount Etna (3323m) – Europe’s biggest active volcano. Apart from Etna’s sporadic eruptions, Sicily is also prone to seismic upheavals – massive earthquakes destroyed the southeast from Catania to Ragusa in 1693, flattened Messina in 1908, and rocked the western part of the island in 1968. Sicily has a semi-autonomous status within the Italian republic, with its own parliament and president , and limited legislative powers in such areas as tourism, transport, industry and the environment. There is no separatist movement to speak of. Disregard for regulations long accepted in the rest of Europe is rife in Sicily, and this anarchic approach to the law manifests in myriad ways. Thanks to the local distaste for wearing seat belts , many garages stock a device designed to override car safety systems and save drivers the irritation of bleeping belt alerts. One of the most densely populated islands in the Mediterranean, Sicily’s population is something over five million, with settlement mainly concentrated in the two cities of Palermo and Catania, on the northern and eastern coasts. Compared to north Italy, the economy has remained relatively underdeveloped. Though there are pockets of industrial activity, Sicily is mainly agricultural . However, the sector has suffered considerable setbacks over recent years, while local fishermen struggle with quota restrictions and competition from international mega-boats that hoover up vast shoals of tuna. These days, tourism plays an increasingly crucial role in the Sicilian economy.
What Sicily does offer is a remarkably fresh Mediterranean experience. Its main resorts and famous archeological sites have attracted visitors for many years, but budget airline routes have opened up lesser-known parts of this fascinating island, while boutique accommodation and sustainable tourism projects have mushroomed in recent years. The rewards are immediate, notably the dramatic landscapes that range from pin-prick outlying islands to the volcanic heights of Mount Etna . Much of the island is underpopulated and, outside the few tourist zones, crowds are rare – which means plenty of opportunity to make your own personal discoveries: dazzling white- and black-sand beaches , sparkling coves, rolling wheat plains, upland wild-flower meadows and precarious mountain passes. Sicily was an important power base during Greek and Roman times, and its excavated ancient cities and temples especially are superb, standing comparison with any ruins in Greece itself. There are exquisite Arab-Norman palaces such as the Palazzo dei Normanni, as well as impressive churches and castles across the island, while the devastation wrought by the great earthquake of 1693 provided a blank slate for the building of some of the most harmonious Baroque architecture to be found in Europe, best seen in Noto, Ragusa and the Val di Noto.
Perhaps above all, there’s a distinct way of day-to-day living that separates Sicily from the rest of Italy – an almost operatic exuberance that manifests itself in some extraordinarily colourful festivals and celebrations. You’re unlikely to forget the intensity of the Sicilian experience, whether you’re shopping for swordfish in a raucous souk-like market , catching a concert in a dramatic open-air Greek theatre, bathing in a hidden hot spring, or island-hopping by hydrofoil across azure seas.


Eating a genuine Sicilian ice cream is one of the world’s most indulgent gastronomic experiences, a melt-in-the-mouth sensation that suffuses your taste buds with the unadulterated essence of mandarin, almond, rose or whichever locally grown fruit, nut or flower the gelataio has decided is at its prime.
The art of ice-cream-making is around a thousand years old here – the Arabs brought with them the technique of making sherbet or sharbat by blending fruit syrups and flower essences with snow taken from Mount Etna and other mountains. It seems probable that it was a resourceful Sicilian who got the idea of making a good thing better, freezing a mixture of milk, sugar or honey, and fruit. By the sixteenth century, ices were all the rage at the trendsetting French court of Catherine de’ Medici, who imported a Sicilian into her kitchen with the sole job of making ice creams, granite and sorbets.
The popularity of ices continued to grow and, in the eighteenth century, virtually the entire revenue of the Bishop of Catania came from selling the snow of Mount Etna – you can still visit caves used for ice storage on Etna. Years when snowfall was scant or non-existent provoked civil unrest during the steamy summers: in 1777 a boat rumoured to be carrying snow was attacked and its precious cargo seized by Siracusans desperate for ice cream.
Ices and ice creams were loved by rich and poor alike: at a banquet in eighteenth-century Palermo, 5000kg of snow were needed to keep the three hundred guests in constant supply of frozen refreshment, while at the other end of the scale, street vendors throughout the island ensured that ice cream could be enjoyed by all but the very poorest, selling it by the spoonful to those who could afford no more.

Where to go
Set in a wide bay at the foot of a fertile valley, the capital, Palermo , is an essential part of any Sicilian visit, with a vibrant, almost Middle Eastern, flavour, and featuring some of the island’s finest churches, historic treasures, markets and restaurants. It gets hot and stuffy here in summer, though, which makes escapes out of the city all the more tempting, above all to the offshore island of Ustica , or to the extraordinary church mosaics at Monreale . An hour east of Palermo, meanwhile, lies one of Sicily’s premier resorts, Cefalù , with its own fabulous church mosaics. Cefalù is also the jumping-off point for the Parco Regionale delle Madonie, whose mountains are the highest on the island after Etna.
Ferries and hydrofoils depart from Milazzo and Messina to the Aeolians , an enchanting chain of seven volcanic islands – including the famed Stromboli – that attract sun-worshippers, celebrities and adventurou

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