Rick Steves’ Video on Sicily
Rick Steves shares history, facts and things to do in Sicily. He tours the countryside and meets interesting Italians along the way.
He has many tips for your visit.
Our Suggestions for 12 Best Sights in Sicily
1. Mt. Etna – You can see Mt. Etna from all over Sicily, you get the feeling the mountain is trying to lure you to come and visit. Walking along craters and traipsing through the lava of Mt. Etna you will find it difficult to believe that you are still in Italy, you feel like you are on a different planet.
2. Monreale – The Cathedral at Monreale outside Palermo, is a wonder of mosaics. The outside of the Cathedral is austere but inside everything glitters.
3. Taormina – Taormina has a little bit of something for everyone – beautiful views of the Ionian Sea, an ancient Greek/Roman amphitheater, impressive public gardens, great restaurants and shops, a funicular and a beach.
4. Ragusa – The thing that makes Ragusa special is that there are actually two Ragusa’s the old and the new. The new city was built after the earthquake of 1693, which by most of our standards does not make it very new. The old city was renovated after the earthquake.
5. Erice – Sitting at the top of either a large hill or small mountain, Erice glistens in the sun. With the white stone buildings and ancient stone streets Erice has an almost fairytale appearance.
6. Agrigento and the Valle dei Templi – There are several places in Sicily where you can see ancient ruins and well preserved temples. Among the best are those at Agrigento. You can walk the well marked paths and look at structures that date from around 400BC. If you visit at night you can get a spooky view of the temples lit up with spotlights, you can feel the ghosts of ancient times standing next to you.
7. Cefalù – The Cathedral at Cefalù is famous for its Byzantine mosaic decorations. The cathedral sits on a high outcropping of land with the town nestled at its base. If you approach Cefalù from the sea you will get an excellent view of the cathedral.
8. Selinunte – Selinunte has one of the largest Greek temples in the world. Founded in 628 BC Selinunte has enjoyed prosperity and suffered the destructiveness of war. Like Agrigento, you can walk along paths and view the ruins.
9. Palermo – Palermo is worth a visit just because it is Palermo. From books, movies and frequently newscasts, it is known to us as the hotbed of Mafia activity. In fact, local tour guides will point out hotels where high level mafia meetings have been held. It is an interesting city with the Quattro Canti, the Cathedral, the Cloister of San Gionacci degli Eremiti with its red domes and the large and unruly La Vucciria market where you can buy just about anything. Palermo is also very polluted and very hot from late spring to early fall.
10. Aeolian Islands –Each island in this archipelago has its own charm and character. There are beaches of white pumice and beaches of black lava, the sea is clear and the cuisine spectacular.
11. Caltagirone – This is the city of ceramic tiles, not mosaics, but tiles. Roofs have tile exteriors, the gazebo in the park is made of tile, the bridge is decorated with tiles and the amazing stair case in the middle of town has tile risers. This is the place to buy Italian pottery, just make sure it does not contain lead. US customs will confiscate pottery that is not certified to be imported to the US
12. The Salt Pans of Trapani – It is worth the 10minutes it will take to stop and see the Salt Pans of Trapani. You can see windmills at work and the different stages of salt being extracted from sea water. You can also buy bags of locally produced salt which will last you a lifetime.