What it is – An autonomous region of Italy, Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean and home to some 5 million inhabitants. It comprises the Aeolian archipelago and other smaller islands as well.
Why it’s important – Sicily sits at the tip of Italy’s “boot” – and the crossroads of European history. Inhabited as early as 8000 B.C.E., the islands strategic position attracted ancient Egyptians, Phoenicians, and Iberians to its shores.
What to do – Goethe famously quipped, “To have seen Italy without seeing Sicily is not having seen Italy at all.” The Greek temples at Agrigento, Segesta, and Selinunte stand among the world’s finest examples of Hellenic architecture. Play in the sun on Sicily’s many beaches, go skiing or four wheeling on Mount Etna, wander beautiful resort towns such as Taormina and mingle with the locals at an open air market in Palermo or Catania. Travel to Marsala and the wine country for a tasting or any restaurant for the finest cuisine.
When to go – For fun in the sun, visit between June and September. To soak in the islands cultural treasures (and milder temperatures), try the off peak months of March through May and mid-September to October. Skiing Mount Etna is great in January.