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SICILY

Sicily Tours

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is an autonomous Region of Italy, along with surrounding minor islands, officially referred to as Regione Siciliana (in Italian, Sicilian Region).

Sicily is located in the central Mediterranean Sea, south of the Italian Peninsula, from which it is separated by the narrow Strait of Messina. Its most prominent landmark is Mount Etna, the tallest active volcano in Europe, and one of the most active in the world, currently 3,329 m (10,922 ft) high. The island has a typical Mediterranean climate.

Tours in Sicily

The earliest archaeological evidence of human activity on the island dates from as early as 12,000 BC. By around 750 BC, Sicily had three Phoenician and a dozen Greek colonies and, for the next 600 years, it was the site of the Sicilian Wars and the Punic Wars, which ended with the Roman Republic’s destruction of Carthage at the battle of Carthage (c. 149 BC). Sicily frequently changed hands after the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, and it was ruled during the early Middle Ages by the Vandals, Ostrogoths, Byzantine Empire, and the Emirate of Sicily. The Norman conquest of southern Italy led to the creation of the Kingdom of Sicily, which was subsequently ruled by the Hohenstaufen, the Capetian House of Anjou, Spain, the House of Habsburg, and then finally unified under the House of Bourbon with the Kingdom of Naples as the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. It became part of Italy in 1860 following the Expedition of the Thousand, a revolt led by Giuseppe Garibaldi during the Italian unification, and a plebiscite. Sicily was given special status as an autonomous region after the Italian constitutional referendum of 1946.

Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature, cuisine, and architecture. It is also home to important archaeological and ancient sites, such as the Necropolis of Pantalica, the Valley of the Temples, and Selinunte.

Good to Know

Country
Italy
Visa Requirements
Visa in not needed for EU citizens. Everyone else need a visa.
Languages spoken
Italian
Currency used
Euro
Area (km2)
25,711 km2 (9,927 sq mi)

Flora and Fauna

Sicily is an often-quoted example of man-made deforestation, which has occurred since Roman times, when the island was turned into an agricultural region. This gradually dried the climate, leading to a decline in rainfall and the drying of rivers. The central and southwest provinces are practically devoid of any forest. In Northern Sicily, there are three important forests; near Mount Etna, in the Nebrodi Mountains and in the Bosco della Ficuzza’s Natural Reserve near Palermo. The Nebrodi Mountains Regional Park, established on 4 August 1993 and covering 86,000 hectares (210,000 acres), is the largest protected natural area of Sicily; and contains the largest forest in Sicily, the Caronia. The Hundred Horse Chestnut (Castagno dei Cento Cavalli), in Sant’Alfio, on the eastern slopes of Mount Etna, is the largest and oldest known chestnut tree in the world at 2,000 – 4,000 years old.

Sicily has a good variety of fauna. Species include fox, least weasel, pine marten, roe deer, wild boar, crested porcupine, hedgehog, common toad, Vipera aspis, golden eagle, peregrine falcon, hoopoe and black-winged stilt. Sicily is an important habitat for the survival of several species, an example being the subspecies of hooded crow Corvus cornix which is only found in Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica.

The Zingaro Natural Reserve is one of the best examples of unspoiled coastal wilderness in Sicily.

Surrounding waters including Strait of Messina are home to varieties of birds and marine life, including larger species such as flamingos and fin whales.