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With regards to responsible and eco- or sustainable tourism, Sicily is undergoing a renaissance, as landowners and locals alike are re-discovering the riches of their territory. Farming methods have been the same for centuries, and more and more farms and agriturismi owners are opening up their property to visitors to show them how it's done with little or no impact on the environment. Sustainable tourism also applies to the sea and coastal areas, as Sicily was one of the first zones in Europe to designate areas specifically for the protection and preservation of marine life (Ustica, Filicudi, Riserva dello Zingaro, Lampedusa). Fishing and building in these areas is forbidden and tour facilities are threadbare so as not to interfere with the surroundings.

A synonymous type of tourism is dubbed ethical tourism. It differs slightly in theory from eco-tourism, having a propensity toward travel with socially conscious issues in mind. Social awareness on the island was raised in the 1960s by anthropologist Danilo Dolci, who was appalled at the living and working conditions of the people in postwar Sicily, and made it his life's mission to recruit volunteers from all over the world to rectify the situation. Nowadays ethical tourism is best represented by working on farms that were once property of the Mafia, attracting volunteers from all over Italy, and the sale of pasta and other products harvested from the land goes toward the upkeep of the farm. To plan a trip to Sicily with ecological and social issues in mind start from: Responsible Travel (www.responsibletravel.com), an excellent resource for understanding the ideology behind ecotourism and has suggestions for Sicily; Sustainable Travel International (www.sustainabletravelinternational.org) is chock-full of resources on sustainable travel for those who want to make a difference.

For general information on eco hotels throughout the world, including some in Sicily, visit www.ecohotelsoftheworld.com. For specific destinations in Sicily, Ecoturismo Italia (www.ecoturismo-italia.it) gives you an insight into ecotourism on the island. If you are interested in volunteering on the Mafia-free territories, visit Libera (www.libera.it) for detailed information about the project.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.