Before the trials and tribulations of the coronavirus pandemic, international tourism was at an all-time high and rising – and with the worst of the pandemic’s restrictions receding, tourism is once again set to explode. The sunny island of Sicily is a less-trodden, but still hugely popular tourist destination in the summer, drawing hundreds of thousands to its sunny beaches and culture-filled cities. But there are some things you should brush up on ahead of your first visit to the iconic island…
When to Visit
Like the majority of holiday destinations, Sicily is a seasonal place, and there are times of the year during which you would be better making your visit. Being a Mediterranean island, Sicily is at its best in the latter half of the Summer, around September and maybe early October. This is because the high temperatures and humidity of mid-Summer can be a little discomforting; the slight roll-off in temperature, coupled with the still-warm Mediterranean Sea and still-booming tourist trade in major cities and coastal towns, makes for the perfect holiday.
Sicily is a small island, but a big place. There is so much to see, and so much beautiful landscape between it all – in order to see it all, you’ll need to think about your travel arrangements during your holiday as well as to and from it. Car rental is a popular option to take you up and down the country roads and between the olive groves, while the buses in built-up areas are a swift way of manoeuvring cities such as its capital Palermo. Of course, the travel issue might already be solved if your trip is a guided Sicily tour, which takes you to the must-see aspects of Sicily on an all-inclusive itinerary.
Speaking the Language
While Sicily shares much in common with its mainland neighbour Italy, there are also some profound differences – not the least in terms of language. Sicilians do not speak Italian; they speak Sicilian, a distinct language thought to actually pre-date Italian by a number of years. There are commonalities between the languages, but do not be surprised if your Italian phrasebook doesn’t quite get the answer you expected!
What to See
Palermo is Sicily’s capital, and a treasure trove of holiday activities and sightseeing destinations. The Catacombe dei Cappuccini give Paris’ catacombs a run for their money, while the nearby Cattedrale di Palermo is a medieval wonder, still standing proud. For the intrepid, Palermo’s three street markets are a phenomenal place to find local produce, and home to perhaps the tastiest olives in the western hemisphere.
Montevago is an unassuming village in the south-east of the island, but home to a stunning example of recent history and outstanding local hospitality. In 1968, an earthquake devastated the city, reducing much of it to rubble. In response, Sicily rebuilt Montevago from the ground up little more than a mile from its old grounds. The new Montevago marries quintessential Mediterranean architecture with the post-modern architecture of the time, creating a culture-shock like no other – and the ruins remain there to be visited!