Sicily has always been one of my favorite places in Italy and even though we were there only three times, I had the chance to visit many places and also go to explore some of the small islands around it -which really complete the wonderful experience.
Sicily is in fact the Quintessential Mediterranean island, so full not only of natural wonders and the fantastic sea surrounding it -made even more special by the almost always sunny weather- but also so rich in history, art, culture and the most delicious food. In one trip you can basically go back in time and see all different historic ages in more than 2 millennia but you can on the same day climb the black slopes of a vulcano and dive into the most turquoise waters, see an ancient greek temple and a medieval church covered in golden mosaics, or have an elegant dinner on the wonderful baroque streets of Noto.
You can reach Sicily by plane (last time we flew with Ryan Air from Torino to Palermo, which has a small but modern airport - Catania is the other one, together with the small one in Trapani), by boat (we took the ferry twice, once from Genova and once from Civitavecchia) by car (you will have to take the ferry called "Caronte" from Reggio Calabria to Messina -the ride is 20 minutes long and very conveniently organized) or by train (which also goes on the ferry to cross the strait).
To go to the Aeolian islands, you take the ferry either from Napoli in Campania, Villa San Giovanni in Calabria or Milazzo in Sicilia. While for the Aegadian the ferries leave from Trapani, and so are the ones leaving for Pantelleria. Pantelleria has also an airport with daily flights from many Italian cities, and so does Lampedusa.
We always rented cars in Sicily, last time with Hertz in Trapani, where they were super helpful! Driving can be a little challenging in the big cities because of the traffic and especially the amount of scooters ;-)
You can't understand Sicily without learning its incredible history, because everywhere you go you will see a monument, a church, a ruin that will remind you that this island has been at the center of Mediterranea for millennia -and everybody took advantage of that. (Under construction)
(Click on the map to enlarge it)
The region of Sicily is not only the big crocodile-head shaped island that you know it's at the very sought of Italy, but also of many smaller islands that are grouped into three main archipelagos: the Aeolian islands, above the north eastern coast (with Salina, Lipari, Vulcano, Panarea and Stromboli), the Aegadian islands off of the western coast (with Favignana, Levanzo and Marettimo), the Pelagie off the southern's (with Lampedusa, Linosa and Lampione) and the beautiful islands of Pantelleria (closer to the African coast than Italy) and Ustica.
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