The amazing sights of the island of Sicily
“Island-tale, island-dream. When you fall into its grids, you disappear forever … «…. We rephrased the famous song not by chance. That is what you can say about Sicily.
If you look at the map, then the general outlines of Italy resemble a neat boot. A heavenly Sicilian corner can be found at the very socks. The length of the coastline is 1.5 thousand kilometers. However, this does not prevent guests from other countries from coming to the island every year to see its sights and legendary places.
Lords of the Gods and Atlantes
The island of Sicily is rich in attractions. However, its undeniable symbol is Etna volcano. It is the highest spewing object not only in Italy, but in the whole of Europe! Yes, the three-kilometer crater with an enviable periodicity produces lava and ash. Yes, it is constantly hanging above the clouds of white smoke. Yes, in the vicinity unbearably smells of sulfur! But numerous tourists flooded in these places. Still, after all they conceal the most beautiful legends.
According to one of them, the lame god of fire and blacksmith Vulcan lives in the mouth of Etna. Another states that a vicious Atlantean is imprisoned inside the mountain. When this giant tries to escape from captivity, its heavy breathing comes out of the vent in the form of a pillar and envelops the entire island. The third one asserts that there are several aggressive Atlantean brothers living in the depths of Etna …
But from myths — to the facts. There are several ways to get to the top of the volcano.
- Funicular. The cable car connects two tourist bases at once.
- SUV. You can rent this car at the airport of Catania.
- Walking A long, but fascinating way to look closely at the scorched terrain and the «Martian» landscape of this natural landmark.
Tale in the style of «Baroque», which has become a reality …
The most beautiful city of Sicily can rightly be called Noto. It is no coincidence that it is called the “little baroque pearl”. The local architecture is completely subordinated to this ornate style. However, as the story has more than one thousand years.
It is characteristic that the current Noto has nothing to do with the fact that it existed before 1963. The earthquake that happened in those days completely destroyed all the buildings. The city had to be rebuilt, and, away from the earthquake-prone place. And, of course, the new architectural features were dictated by the Baroque style, popular in Italy in the XVII century.
What sights do you need to see in Noto? Let’s start with the suburbs. After all, only nine kilometers from the modern city are the ruins of an ancient settlement. To stroll through them means to plunge into the world of ancient Sicily, completely different from ours.
But we do not recommend staying among the ruins. Better to go to the new Noto faster to visit the most beautiful sights. Immediately it should be noted that all the buildings here are made of yellow sandstone, and therefore are distinguished by a special radiance. When the sun sets behind the island, illuminating these walls with the last rays, Noto turns into a fabulous golden city.
One of the local attractions worth paying attention to is the Church of St. Dominic. It has the shape of a Greek cross and is distinguished by a luxurious curved facade. The interior of the temple is also striking in its magnificence. No wonder, because its domes are decorated with frescoes by great masters, including the works of the world famous Vito d’Annu.
You can not ignore the Cathedral of San Niccolo. The decoration of the church keeps traces of one of the devastating earthquakes … You can admire this grand basilica at any time of the year. But especially it blooms in spring. Moreover, in the truest sense of the word! Indeed, in May, the inhabitants of Noto spend the traditional Feast of Flowers. They decorate the street with the most fanciful floristic compositions, creating a special atmosphere around Palazzo Nikolacci.
By the way, the sights of Noto prove: even ominous can be beautiful! A vivid example of this is the catacombs of San Giovanni. Simply put, this is an ancient Christian cemetery, organized at the turn of the 4th-6th centuries of our era. Currently, every tourist can go down to the dungeon. Dark arches, remnants of frescoes and bas-reliefs, and even ghosts — that’s what lovers tell about tickling the nerves that have been there!
Of course, this is not all the beauty of the baroque city that you can see. The attractions of Noto are also:
- Church of Montevirgini;
- Vittorio Emmanuel III;
- Ducecio Palace (now — City Hall);
- Palace of Nikolaichi di Villadorata.
Noto is in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is the pride of the inhabitants of all Italy. Therefore, it is extremely surprising that for some reason tourists who come to the island are in no hurry to visit this particular city. Although it may be for the better? Noto continues to live a measured life and maintains a power order.
Sanctuary of temples and palaces
Syracuse is another city that every tourist traveling in Italy must visit. Its decoration is the central square or Piazza Duomo. Here a variety of styles organically intertwined: antique classics, ornate baroque and more restrained rococo. The central object of the square is the Cathedral, which was built where the Greek temple once stood.
On the Piazza Duomo you can admire the numerous palaces. Archbishop, Beneventano, Senate … All this is the real pride of Italy! But special attention should be paid to the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin. Looking at him, it is difficult to believe that we are dealing with a holy place for Christians. It is not surprising, because in times of antiquity it was the temple of the goddess of wisdom, Athena!
Another interesting place is the Greek Theater. Its diameter almost reaches 140 meters. The most interesting thing is that today, on the stage of the theater, scenes from ancient tragedies are staged and musical evenings are organized. And every tourist will be able to visit this landmark and feel like an ancient inhabitant of Italy, who came to the temple of Melpomene.
In addition, pride and Syracuse, and Italy in general, are:
- Temple of Apollo. He has an amazing story. The church was a Christian church, a slave mosque, a Romanesque cathedral, and even a refuge for Aragonese soldiers.
- Church of Santa Lucia-alla-Badia. It was built specifically in honor of the holy, patronizing city. Inside it is decorated with numerous frescoes telling about the life of the martyr.
- The catacombs of St. John — the second largest after the Roman.
- The temple of Our Lady of Tears is the newest in the history of Italy. Differs non-standard, futuristic architecture. The fact is that the building has the shape of a tent topped with an unusual dome. And on the very top of the temple there is a bronze Madonna.
And for those who want to touch the natural sights of Italy, we advise you to go to the source of Aretusa. It is fed by groundwater, which originates in the mountains of Ibeleskih. This wondrous beauty source is also shrouded in myth and recited by ancient poets.
Valley of the Temples: Touch the Antiquities
However, the island of Sicily is not only Noto and Syracuse, but also many other places that every tourist should look at. One of them — the Valley of the Temples, located near the town of Agrigento. We are talking about a large-scale archaeological complex, consisting entirely of antique buildings. Mostly these are theaters and temples, erected in honor of the gods of antiquity. Moreover, historians call the complex «the most ancient Greek» of all that are located outside of modern Hellas.
What is worth seeing first of all by visiting these places?
- Temple of the Volcano. At one time it was the largest structure of the Valley, but now it has been destroyed to the maximum.
- Temple of the Volcano. The oldest in the composition group, currently only 8 columns are preserved from it.
- Temple of Juno. It celebrated the wedding of the ancient Italians.
- Temple of Asclepius. People came here wishing to be cured or to beg the health of their loved ones.
- Temple of Olympian Zeus. Dedicated to the victory over Carthage.
- Temple of Concord. It was originally built in honor of the ancient gods, but after several centuries Christian worship began to take place in it.
- Temple of Castor and Pollux. It is a symbol of the modern Italian city of Agrigento.
By the way, most of the Valley of the temples is still not excavated. And, it is quite possible that the piggy bank of historical monuments of Sicily will gradually be replenished with “old new” exhibits.
From the Beach of the Rabbits to the homeland of the mafia clans …
The island of Sicily is a set of cities, each of which is a kind of archaeological and cultural monument. And you can talk about all the interesting places to infinity! But in order to leave Sicily with a maximum set of memories, you must find time for the following cultural and natural heritage sites.
- Rabbit Beach (Lampedusa Island). Located in the reserve. It is here that sea turtles massively lay eggs. And at the end of August, their children begin to hatch and crawl in orderly rows to the sea. An unforgettable sight!
- Museum of Ceramics (Palermo). Pottery art was extremely developed in Italy, and now the island has got its own «artisan» museum.
- Cathedral of Palermo. This is a real “hodgepodge” of architectural styles: Byzantine architecture combined with Arabic script, Gothic, classicism. In addition, in the cathedral are the tombs of Sicilian rulers. Each of them is a work of art inlaid with precious metals and stones.
And, of course, let’s not forget that the island of Sicily is the birthplace of the famous mafia clans! Mario Puzo is ready to open his arms to the town of Corleone before the fans of creativity. In fact, it is very quiet, hospitable and no longer a center of the underworld. However, miss here will not succeed. Indeed, on the territory of Corleone there are “remains” of ancient settlements and medieval ruins, the former hunting grounds of King Ferdinand I, dozens of churches of incredible beauty, as well as the Regional Wildlife Hospital. In a word, Corleone is a worthy “brainchild” of Sicily, an island that is the pearl of Italy.