Sardinia or Sicily? It is the question asked by those who want to travel to Italy without stepping on the boot-shaped expanse of land. The answer is often repeated: if you are looking for a beach, go to Sardinia, and if you want to see cities with a lot of history, go to Sicily .
It is unfair to say this because in Sardinia there are also very beautiful cities such as Alghero, and it is also unfair to assume that there are no beautiful beaches in Sicily, because there are also. Be that as it may, in this article I will not go into that discussion and will talk about its main cities , all of which are highly recommended when planning an end-to-end island tour.
It is the capital of Sicily and about 860,000 inhabitants live there. It shines for its extensive artistic and architectural heritage, although it does not do so for the civic spirit that is breathed in its streets. It is one of the most dangerous places to drive in Europe, as its inhabitants are used to skipping road signs such as a "STOP" or a "Yield". It is the law of the jungle, so be careful if you rent a car and move around. I tell you from experience.
In Palermo we can highlight its cathedral, the Normanni Palace, the Massimo Theater , the beautiful Quattro Canti Palace, the Zisa Palace, the Monreale Cathedral, the San Cataldo Church or the Botanical Garden. On the outskirts you can visit Mondello beach .
Located to the west of Sicily, Catania is the second largest city on the island. About 340,000 inhabitants live in it and we could say that it is very close to Mount Etna , the largest active volcano on the old continent. Although it has been destroyed up to seven times due to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, it has always managed to rebuild itself to return to being a city that invites you to stroll through its streets.
It is worth going to the Ursino Castle, the Basilica della Collegiata, the Catanian Diocesean Museum or the Museo Civico Belliniano.
It is located in the southeast of Sicily and can be considered as one of the most popular cultural centers of Ancient Greece . The city has about 125,000 inhabitants and is full of places of great historical value, such as an amphitheater with capacity for up to 15,000 people.
In addition to the amphitheater, it is highly recommended to visit Ortigia , which is a small island and fortress in Syracuse that at night fills with tourists wanting to have fun. There are numerous bars and restaurants and in the summer months there is a festive atmosphere in each and every one of its streets.
With almost 250,000 inhabitants and located northeast of Sicily, it cannot be denied that it is one of the most important cities on the island. It occupies a territory severely damaged by seismic activity (in 1908 an earthquake killed 80,000 people), but that does not prevent it from conserving an enviable historical and urban heritage.
You can go to see some of its museums, the Church of Carmine, the Cathedral of Messina, the Fontana di Orione or its astronomical clock , which was built in Strasbourg in 1933 and is part of a 60-meter high bell tower.
It is the largest city in western Sicily, a city of just over 70,000 inhabitants that is very popular for its salt mills and for its salt pans. There are also Phoenician archaeological remains and we cannot forget its beaches . The one I liked the most was that of San Vito lo Capo.
What else is there to see in Trapani? The Mangiapane Grotto , the Museo Regionale Conte Agostino, the Trapani Cathedral or the Salt Museum.
I have to say that it is the city that I liked the most in Sicily. Its streets are very beautiful and it is worth spending a whole day on it. Of course, the Taormina Theater is the one that takes the cake, since it offers spectacular views of the sea that should not be missed. It has a diameter of 109 meters and in its day the capacity was 5,000 people.
I also recommend that you see the Castle of Taormina , that you visit the Beautiful Island or that you get on the Circumetneo Railway, which runs 110 kilometers of track moving around Etna to connect Catania with Riposto.
It is probably the city with the most history on this entire list. About 60,000 inhabitants live in it, but it is that in ancient times it was one of the most important cities of Magna Grecia . It is on the south coast and attracts thousands of tourists each year for its spectacular archaeological heritage. Of course, it must be said that it is one of the Italian cities with the lowest per capita income and there is a problem with organized crime and illegal drugs that has not yet been resolved.
The Valley of the Temples , where the Temple of Concordia, the Temple of Juno and the Temple of Olympian Zeus are located, are a must-see.
In the small and charming Cefalù, where some 15,000 inhabitants live that easily double in summer, the Roman baths and its beautiful beaches are the main protagonists, although we must also mention its old cathedral and a very beautiful fishing port.
Cefalù’s main beach, shaped like a half moon, is one of the most complimented in Sicily. The sand is very fine and the water is always clean and crystal clear. The bad thing is that in July and August you have to get up early to be able to lay down the towel.
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