The Italian island of Sicily has long been an attractive holiday destination for Brits looking to relax and bathe in the glorious weather. However, the sun is not the only thing you can soak up on a trip to this Mediterranean paradise as there's so much more going on than beautiful beaches.
So, with this in mind, here are a few other things you can look forward to when you jet off to Sicily with Fred.\ Holidays.
Uncover UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Sicily is home to various different UNESCO World Heritage Sites, many of which have archaeological importance. The island has changed hands regularly since it was first settled in 12,000 BC and this has made it an area that is rich in history, culture and forgotten treasures. Two of the main sites of archaeological importance are Ancient Syracuse and the Rocky Necropolis of Pantalica, which are joined together by UNESCO to form one World Heritage Site.
Both of these areas show evidence of Greek and Roman civilisation. The Necropolis is the resting place for thousands of tombs that date back to as early as the 13th century BC, whilst Syracuse was once one of the most powerful Greek cities in existence. It is said to be the birthplace of the legendary mathematician Archimedes and, during the 5th century BC, was the same size as, and held more significant than, Athens.
Other Heritage Sites include the Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto. There are eight of these in total and all of them were rebuilt in the style of the late Baroque period following a devastating earthquake in 1693. Caltagirone, Militello Val di Catania, Catania, Modica, Noto, Palazzolo, Ragusa and Scicli can all be found in the south-east of the island.
Marvel At Mount Etna
There is one other site on UNESCO's list that you can't miss, wherever you are in Sicily. Mount Etna is one of Europe's largest volcanoes and one of the most active in the world; regularly putting on a show to anyone who's memorised by the striking pyrotechnics. The latest volcanic episode occurred as recently as last year, albeit a series of minor eruptions, but farmers are still determined to stay in the area due to the abundance rich soil.
Although recent activity has made it too dangerous to venture as high as the main crater, it is still possible to explore Mount Etna and view some old lava flows as well as some of the other craters from a distance. Your walking tour of this spectacular site could also include a wine tasting session; allowing you to see the sweeter side of life close to an active volcano.
Savour Sicilian Cuisine
As well as the wonderful wines produced on the island, there will also be the chance to taste many more aspects of Sicilian cuisine. Although distinctly Mediterranean, the food here has its own unique flavours and dishes that will offer a delicious way to refuel yourself during your travels. Just like on the Italian mainland, certain towns and cities have their own specialities, but most of these can be found all over.
Being an island, seafood makes up a vast percentage of the protein that is used in Sicilian dishes. However, perhaps the most notable examples of cooking in this part of the world, and some of the most mouth-watering, can be found within the dessert section of the menu. Among these are the Sicilian version of doughnuts, known as braccilatte, fried cannoli filled with ricotta cheese, Pignolo (macaroons), and Granita; a dish similar to, but distinct from, ice cream and sorbet.
Witness Stunning Natural Beauty
Along with the beautiful beaches in places such as Mondello, San Vito lo Capo and Cefalù, there is natural charm and delicacy in the greener areas of Sicily too. The island's first nature reserve, Zingaro, is one such area which offers fantastic walking opportunities as well as the chance to see endemic wildlife and plant life and Uzzo Grotto; the spot of the first prehistoric settlement on Sicily. The reserve is found in the north-west and is home to scarce Bonelli eagle.
Other areas of extreme beauty include the Parco Naturale dei Nebrodi, in the north-east of the island. Here, you'll find scenic lakes, rocky mountain paths, ancient watermills and historic towns that are all ripe for exploration.
If you would like to take a holiday to Sicily this summer, the team at Fred.\ Holiday can tailor-make a trip to your requirements. Alternatively, we have a 'Treasures of Sicily' tour available that takes in many of the sights listed above.