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Sicily: history, cuisine and tradition


Sicily, large island set in the blue of the Mediterranean, crossroads of cultures and traditions, is a is a land of extraordinary beauty.

Sicily has seen invasions, peaceful coexistence, enlightened sovereigns that have enriched it with architectural wonders unique in the world. The many provinces of Sicily are a kaleidoscope of greatness and flavors: a tale of Sicily can not be separated from its cuisine.

GO-ON-ITALY hotel offers sicily

Palermo, the capital

If you could spend only five minutes of your life in Palermo, we would have only one recommendation: position yourself at the meeting between via Maqueda and the ancient Cassaro, today via Vittorio Emanuele, and turn on yourself slowly for at least four or five times. Everywhere else that would be a simple intersection, but in Palermo are the Quattro Canti, the Teatro del Sole, said so because during the day the facades are illuminated in turn by the rays of our star. The Four Songs are a synthesis of the city, which has many faces, ready to shine for the eyes of visitors.

Founded by the Phoenicians, coveted by the Greek Siceliotes, enlarged by the Romans, conquered by the Arabs, loved by the Jews, Normans and Spaniards, the lively capital of Sicily is a city rich in history and culture, in which the infinite mixture of peoples emerges evident in its architecture and cuisine. There is a small characteristic of the streets of the city that makes the idea of this mixture well: many streets of the old city – especially in the district of Kalsa, which was also the birthplace of Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino – are indicated in three languages, Italian, Arabic and Hebrew, a sign that all are equally at home.

What to eat and drink in Palermo

Among the essential city destinations there is certainly the Cathedral, the house of the “Santuzza“, the patron saint of the town Santa Rosalia, with its imposing towers and its layered architectural styles sums up the history of the city. Not to be missed is the Palazzo dei Normanni, the oldest royal residence in Europe, with the Cappella Palatina and the wonderful Byzantine mosaics, which can also be found at the Martorana Church. Worthy of note is also the Teatro Massimo, one of the largest opera houses in Europe.

The cuisine of Palermo reflects the cultural vastness of the city. Historic markets like Ballarò and Vucciria offer the best selection of street food in the world (it’s not a scientific fact, it’s just our humble opinion after visiting the city): arancine, pani câ mèusa (bread with spleen), panelle, eat and drink, milk croquettes, baked rings… Choose is really complex. And we have not yet talked about sweets! Cannoli, cassate, white eat, iris, fruit martorana… are not light, but you will not be able to stop eating them! A must is a visit to the monastery of Santa Caterina, where the nuns produce mouth-watering delights.

GO-ON-ITALY Sicily Palermo
Sicily, Palermo

Catania, between the sea and Etna

Located at the foot of Etna – which the people of Catania affectionately call “a muntagna” – Catania is a dynamic city with a strong cultural identity. Famous for its baroque architecture, it was rebuilt after the devastating earthquake of 1693. The historic center of Catania is a triumph of Sicilian Baroque: Piazza del Duomo, with its Elephant Fountain and the Cathedral of Sant’Agata, is the beating heart of the city. Impossible not to mention the Roman amphitheater and the Ursino Castle, further evidence of the great history of the city. Impossible not to mention the Roman amphitheater and the Ursino Castle, further evidence of the great history of the city.

Thanks to Sant’Agata, Catania is one of the world capitals of religious tourism: the feast of the saint, which develops in two different periods of the year – February and August – is the third Catholic holiday in the world for faithful attracted, and an element that strongly connotes the traditions of Catania. To understand the importance of the saint for the city you need to participate in the procession (don’t worry, we’ll help you find a place).

What to eat and drink in Catania

If you feel fit, you can not miss a climb to Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe and a UNESCO site, a mountain of fire that with its 3,300 meters high can also reserve very cold temperatures. Eruptions can cause a lot of discomfort, but seeing one at night is a unique emotion.

Among the symbolic dishes of the city, which gave birth to the composer Vincenzo Bellini, there is pasta alla Norma, prepared with eggplant, tomato, salted ricotta and basil. Among the desserts, you will love the granita, served with the typical brioche with “tuppo”, which will be the protagonist of your breakfasts.

GO-ON-ITALY Sicily Catania
Sicily, Catania

Messina, the door of Sicily

Messina, the closest city to the mainland, is the entrance to the island. Ancient, founded by the Sicels with the name of Zancle and repopulated by the Greek settlers with that of Messena, Messina is a vital center for Sicily.

The Cathedral of Messina is one of the main symbols of the city, and the most characteristic aspect is guarded by the bell tower, with its astronomical clock: we talk more complex in the world and, according to some sources, even the largest ever built, since its components are distributed on different sides and different levels of height of the bell tower.

Not to be missed are the Fountain of Orion and the Fountain of Neptune. Messinese cuisine is famous for its fish dishes, among which swordfish stands out. Desserts such as pignolata and ricotta cannoli are equally renowned. We cannot talk about Messina without mentioning its wines, among which stands out Mamertino, already appreciated by the Romans.

GO-ON-ITALY Sicily Messina
Sicily, Messina

Siracusa, the Magna Grecia

Siracusa is a real open-air museum. Founded by the Greeks in 734 BC, the city has preserved many testimonies of its ancient glory.

The Neapolis Archaeological Park is one of the most important archaeological sites in Italy, with the Greek Theatre, the Roman Amphitheatre and the Ear of Dionysius playing the main roles. The island of Ortigia, the historic center of Siracusa, is a maze of streets. Here is the Cathedral of Siracusa, built on an ancient Greek temple, and the Temple of Athena.

The ideal time to visit Siracusa is certainly the summer, during which develops the long calendar of classical performances at the Greek theater, which attract fans from all over the world. The cuisine of Siracusa is a journey into the flavors of the Mediterranean tradition. Pasta alla siracusana, with fresh tomato, garlic, chili and anchovies, is a simple but delicious dish. Among the sweets we remember mustazzoli and cuccìa.

GO-ON-ITALY Sicily Siracusa
Sicily, Siracusa

Trapani, between sea and mountains

Trapani, located on the west coast of Sicily, is famous for its salt pans, its windmills and the Egadi islands, of which it is the entrance.

The old town is a jewel of Baroque architecture, with churches such as the Cathedral of San Lorenzo and the Church of Purgatory: here are housed the Mysteries of Trapani, statues that are carried in procession during Easter Holy Week. The Castle of Venus, located on Mount Erice, offers spectacular views of the city and the sea.

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The cuisine of Trapani is famous for its fish couscous, a dish that reflects Arab influences. The busiate, a typical pasta, are often seasoned with pesto alla trapanese, made with tomato, almonds, basil and garlic. Among the sweets, cassatelle and cannoli stand out.

GO-ON-ITALY Sicily Trapani Scopello
Sicilia, Trapani Scopello beach

Agrigento, the ancient Akragas

Agrigento is synonymous with archaeology thanks to its famous Valley of the Temples, one of the most important archaeological sites in the world and on the list of UNESCO sites.

The Valley of the Temples is a complex of Doric temples dating back to the 5th century B.C. Among these, the Temple of Concord, the Temple of Juno and the Temple of Hercules are among the best preserved. The historic center of Agrigento, with its narrow streets and medieval churches, is worth a visit. From the large hill that hosts the city today, on full moon nights, you can enjoy an incredible view of ancient Akragas.

Agrigentina’s cuisine is rich in tasty dishes, such as pasta with sardines and San Giuseppe’s soup, prepared with a variety of local vegetables. Typical sweets include almond cakes and cannoli.

GO-ON-ITALY Sicily Agrigento The Valley of the Temples
Sicily, Agrigento

Enna, the heart

Located in the center of the island, Enna is the highest town in Sicily and offers breathtaking views. The Castello di Lombardia, one of the largest medieval fortresses in Italy, and the Rocca di Cerere, an ancient sacred site, are the main points of interest. A visit to the Cathedral is also necessary, an architectural jewel with a Baroque façade. Enna’s cuisine is simple but tasty, with dishes such as pasta alla carrettiera and vastedda, a type of focaccia. Local desserts, such as the pignolata and cassatelle of Agira, are perfect to finish a meal.

GO-ON-ITALY Sicily Enna Castello di Lombardia
Sicily, Enna

Caltanissetta, splendor away from the sea

Caltanissetta is a city you don’t expect. Pietrarossa Castle, which dominates the city from above, and the Cathedral of Santa Maria La Nova, with its baroque frescoes, are the main artistic and artichettic attractions. The Regional Archaeological Museum offers a vast collection of finds that tell the story of the past.

The cuisine of Caltanissetta includes specialties such as artichoke omelette and cavateddi, a type of fresh pasta. Among the desserts, the cubaita, a nougat of sesame seeds and almonds, is very popular.

GO-ON-ITALY Sicily Caltanissetta Mazzarino
Sicily, Caltanissetta, Mazzarino

Ragusa, the pearl of the baroque

Ragusa is known for its extraordinary baroque heritage, visible especially in the district of Ragusa Ibla, a maze of cobbled streets, squares and baroque churches, such as the magnificent Cathedral of San Giorgio. Il Giardino Ibleo offers a panoramic view of the valley below. We can not miss a detour to Santa Croce Camerina, where in Contrada Punta Secca we find the house of Montalbano. A tip: better to go there in late spring or autumn, to fully enjoy the magical atmosphere of the veranda without too much crowds.

The cuisine of Ragusa is famous for its cheeses, as the caciocavallo ragusano, and for the scacce, stuffed focaccia. Desserts, such as cannoli and almond paste, are equally delicious; in the province we find Modica, famous for its chocolate.

GO-ON-ITALY Sicily Ragusa Ibla
Sicily, Ragusa Ibla

Sicily is a region of extraordinary beauty and diversity. Each city offers a unique combination of history, architecture, art and cuisine, making every visit an unforgettable experience. What are we waiting for? Let’s go!



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