The pace of life is a little slower in Italy's deep south; here, the coast near Taormina, Sicily.
Giuseppe Piazza

Best of Sicily: 18 Favorite Moments

The Mediterranean's largest island is a cradle of civilization. Shaped by its past and the earth-moving volcano Mt. Etna, Sicily has an on-the-brink feel. Since the beginning of human history, every European empire has marched through Sicily, leaving its mark. As the German writer Goethe said: 'To have seen Italy without seeing Sicily is not to have seen Italy at all - for Sicily is the key to everything.'

Photo Caption: The pace of life is a little slower in Italy's deep south; here, the coast near Taormina, Sicily.
View of Sicily's volcanic Mt. Etna. Photo by <a href="http://www.frommers.com/community/user_gallery_detail.html?plckPhotoID=c7beaa30-70a3-4aa0-9832-2ab1d9f3f2fb&plckGalleryID=c0482941-0d2d-4cca-b8c4-809ee9e20c72" target="_blank">Dean Ferguson/Frommers.com Community</a>
Frommers.com Community
Get Close to Etna - the Big Mamma of Volcanoes
You'll be aware of the smoldering presence of Europe's largest, highest, and most active volcano everywhere in Sicily, but for jaw-dropping views take the cable car up and walk on the black lava moonscape. You'll feel the heat at your feet, hear the hiss of belching steam, and marvel at the sight of the contrasting green-cloaked mountains and blue waters far below.

Photo Caption: View of Sicily's volcanic Mt. Etna.
Photo by Dean Ferguson/Frommers.com Community
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Parco Naturale Madonie (Madonie Regional Natural Park) in Sicily.
lorca
Go Wild in the Parco Naturale delle Madonie
The Parco Naturale Regionale delle Madonie is Sicily's greatest national park sprawling across 39,679 hectares (98,049 acres). Walk in the traces of wild cats under the beady eye of soaring eagles and marvel at the profusion of wild flowers - including delicate rare orchids and bluest blue myosotis. Unforgettable.

Photo Caption: Parco Naturale Madonie (Madonie Regional Natural Park) in Sicily.
Sunset at Alba all'Arco dell'Elefante on the island of Pantelleria, Sicily.
sbaush
Star-gaze on the Castaway Island of Pantelleria
Called the Black Pearl of the Mediterranean, you'll be bewitched by the dramatic contrast between the glowering black lava, dazzling white-domed "dammusi" houses, and swimming pool blue seas. It's the island of choice for celebrities and the floral-shaped capers are the best you'll ever taste. 
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The Gola di Alcantara (Alcantara Gorge) in Sicily.
bee721
Cool Off in the Gola di Alcantara
The dramatic Gola di Alcantara gorge carved by the river Alcantara is framed by extraordinary black basalt rock formations. Paddle in protective rubber boots in the icy waters and scramble along the river bed up to the waterfall.

Photo Caption: The Gola di Alcantara (Alcantara Gorge) in Sicily.
The coast of Taormina, Sicily.
Frommers.com Community
Gaze Out Over the Bay of Taormina
Enjoy an aperitivo at sunset, looking out from the candlelit roof terrace of the divine Villa Carlotta across the sea in one direction and Mt. Etna in the other—life doesn’t get much more blissful than this. 
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The Doric temple of Segesta in Sicily.
Frommers.com Community
Discover your Favorite Temple
Standing alone, high on a hill on the edge of a ravine, the Temple at Segesta is probably the world's most stunningly sited classical monument. It's also one of the most perfect Doric temples ever built, and to see it glow pink at sunrise or sunset is one of Sicily's most romantic visions.

Photo Caption: The Doric temple of Segesta in Sicily.
The Roman mosaics at Villa Romana del Casale in Piazza Armerina, Sicily,
andrewmalone
Marvel at the Mosaics of the Villa Romana del Casale
Buried under mud for hundreds of years, excavations began in 1950 to reveal these Roman mosaics of stunning quality and color. Full of life, humor, sensuality—and famously depicting the world's first bikinis—the villa and its treasures are Sicily's most important Roman site.
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Many of the mummified corpses in the Catacombe dei Cappuccini remain fully clothed centuries after death.
Giuseppe Piazza
Descend into the Catacombe dei Cappuccini
Make an appointment with death, Sicilian style. In the Catacombe dei Cappucini catacombs the mummified bodies of 8,000 Palermitans, dressed in their Sunday best, supposedly grin at you. This must be among the world's most macabre sights, and it may sound prurient, but it's an extremely popular attraction - especially with teenagers - but definitely not for the squeamish.

Photo Caption: Many of the mummified corpses in the Catacombe dei Cappuccini remain fully clothed centuries after death.
Giardino di Pietra in Noto, Sicily.
fargilli
Stroll Through Noto's Giardino di Pietra
This 'garden of stone' is of a soft peachy-golden color in, arguably, the most beautiful of Sicily's Baroque towns.

Photo Caption: Giardino di Pietra in Noto, Sicily.
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Florio Winery in Marsala, Sicily.
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Taste Wine in Marsala
Discover the delights and complexities of this fragrant wine and be amazed by the variations in taste from sweet to spicy and dry. Then meander through the Moorish warren of little streets that are reminiscent of a North African town, where Garibaldi landed with his Thousand in 1860 and started his campaign to make it the first city of a united Italy.

Photo Caption: Florio Winery in Marsala, Sicily.
Detail of mosaics along cloister columns at Monreale's Arab-Norman cathedral. Photo by <a href="http://www.frommers.com/community/user_gallery_detail.html?plckPhotoID=caa4773d-3543-4fd5-ace1-03432d038513&plckGalleryID=c0482941-0d2d-4cca-b8c4-809ee9e20c72" target="_blank">Agent Cody/Frommers.com</a>
Frommers.com Community
Bask in the Reflected Glory of Monreale
The 12th-century Monreale cathedral is smothered in glistening Byzantine mosaics - the world's second largest mosaic-covered surface after Istanbul. A full 2,200kg (4,850 lbs) of pure gold were used in the mosaics that depict stories from the Old and New testaments, created by Byzantine and Arab artisans. Even the cloisters outside, which represent the flowering of Islamic architecture, are often referred to as a 'preview of Paradise'.

Photo Caption: Detail of mosaics along cloister columns at Monreale's Arab-Norman cathedral.
Photo by Agent Cody/Frommers.com
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Catania's famous fish market, La Pescheria.
Frommers.com Community
Go Fishing in Catania's Famous Fish Market, La Pescheria
Raw, writhing, and colorful, La Pescheria is as much a place to immerse yourself in for the full Sicilian experience as it is for the glistening bounty of the sea. In the surrounding alleyways, there's an Aladdin's cave of delights for take-home souvenirs from mounds of aromatic spices to ubiquitous Sicilian carts.

Photo Caption: Catania's famous fish market, La Pescheria.
Windmills in Mozia, Sicily.
rosino
Meander around Mózia
In the 8th-century BC, Mózia island of the Phoenicians was Italy's most important trading post. Enjoy a picnic among the aloe-fringed paths and ruins in this tranquil spot.

Photo Caption: Windmills in Mózia, Sicily.
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A view of Taormina, Sicily from the Greek Theatre.
Frommers.com Community
See a Show at Taormina's Teatro Greco
The setting ticked all the boxes for the Greeks for whom the sea and sky were the natural theatrical backdrop, especially when overseen by a volcano in the shape of Mt. Etna. The originally 3rd-century BC Teatro Greco theater is sheer drama of the purest kind. Treat yourself to an open-air performance during the summer festival.

Photo Caption: A view of Taormina, Sicily from the Greek Theatre.
Eruptions at night on the isle of Stromboli, Sicily. Photo by <a href="http://www.frommers.com/community/user_gallery_detail.html?plckPhotoID=2a32b815-575a-417c-9d7e-8582f2a22592&plckGalleryID=c0482941-0d2d-4cca-b8c4-809ee9e20c72" target="_blank">C.Mueller-Planitz/Frommers.com Community</a>
Frommers.com Community
Take a Moonlit Boat Trip around Strómboli
Even the moonbeams are likely to be eclipsed by the fireworks from the summit of the very active Strómboli volcano. If you're lucky you may witness 'strombolian' explosions - outbursts of lava ejected high into the air. See glowing red-hot lava as it snakes down the Sciara del Fuoco (Slope of Fire), and hear the hiss as it meets the sea.

Photo Caption: Eruptions at night on the isle of Stromboli, Sicily.
Photo by C.Mueller-Planitz/Frommers.com Community
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San Vito lo Capo's crescent beach is part of the tranquil, authentic Sicilian experience to be found on the western side of the island.
Giuseppe Piazza
Sunbathe at San Vito lo Capo
Go west to the northernmost tip of the island and be immersed in the soft pinky-white sands that arch along this promontory, backed by jagged cliffs, and fringed by azure seas. You'll be far from alone in high season when Sicilians like their beaches hot and sociable, but off season you could almost have it to yourself.

Photo Caption: San Vito lo Capo's crescent beach is part of the tranquil, authentic Sicilian experience to be found on the western side of the island.
Cala Rossa on Favignana Island. Egadi Islands, Sicily.
jusef
Swim off the Egadi Islands
Favignana (also called La Farfalla after its 'butterfly' shape) is the largest of the Egadi Islands. The swimming here in crystalline bays is truly spectacular, and there's even a Grotta degli Innamorati (Lovers' grotto) to explore.

Photo Caption: Cala Rossa on Favignana Island. Egadi Islands, Sicily.
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Ortygia bay in Syracusa, Sicily.
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Eat on the Waterfront at Ortygia
Two utterly picturesque natural harbors, fresh springs, and the blessing of the Delphic Oracle have lured everyone here since Ancient Times. Treat yourself to an alfresco fishy feast perhaps of fresh tuna, swordfish, or the signature scoppularicchi - a mouth-watering, golden, crunchy mixture of fried squid and tiny cuttlefish. And watch the ducks as they quack their way around the papyrus in the Fonte Aretusa (Arethusa's Spring), the symbol of Ortygia.

Photo Caption: Ortygia bay in Syracusa, Sicily.
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