Sicily is in the center of the Mediterranean Sea and has been central to several world-changing civilizations including the Greeks, Phoenicians and Romans. It is rich in artistic, musical, literary, culinary, and architectural heritage, and has some of the most beautiful beaches and scenery in the Med. Yet many travelers never go beyond mainland Italy.
Don't let this be you! Even if you've already done the 'big three' Italian destinations of Rome, Venice and Florence, there is so much more to Italy.
Here are half a dozen reasons Sicily should be your top destination on your next trip to Italy or the Mediterranean.
The slopes of Mount Etna dominate views of the island. 3300 meters (11,000 feet) high, Etna is the largest active volcano in Europe and the highest mountain in Italy south of the Alps. In the balmy Mediterranean, Etna's seasonal snow cap is a startling sight, as is the black ash it occasionally sprinkles over the island. Mount Etna is the symbol of Sicily, a source of myths, legends and spiritual mystique.
Any trip to Sicily will include opportunities to get great views of the volcano – a classic view is from Taormina - but you can also journey up the heights of the mountain. You'll want warm layers in the upper reaches of Etna even in the sunny Mediterranean.
This mountaintop town has some of the best views of Mount Etna, including the most famous view of the volcano and the coast from its Greek amphitheater. The amphitheater is not just a scenic ruin, it's still used for concerts and plays that bring it alive. Taormina is the bustling resort town of Sicily. Within its medieval walls, most vehicles are excluded. That creates a special atmosphere, with vacationers strolling the stone streets between restaurants and shops.
It's a must-visit place for the view, and a great base to explore eastern Sicily and enjoy nearby beaches.