Coastline and cultural offer
Sicily, the biggest Italian region and the largest island in the Mediterranean sea, has a perimeter of coastline, including the smaller islands, equal to 1483.9 km, of which 62% is for bathing.
The island is surrounded by three seas: the Ionian Sea to the east, the Mediterranean sea to the south and the Tyrrhenian Sea to the north.
At its northern end there is Messina, the first port of call for travelers crossing the Strait that divides the island from Italy. The city has many monuments to visit, including the prestigious Cathedral. Moving in direction of Catania, the City of Taormina overlooks the Ionian sea. it's a very famous destination for international tourists, who visit Sicily. Taormina is connected to the natural reserve "Isola Bella" by a thin strip of sand, continually shaped by the currents and tides.
In this area it's possible to visit the remains of the first Greek colony founded in Sicily in 734 BC, Naxos, and the Greek roman theatre, second for extension after Syracuse theatre.. The stretch of coast is a succession of rocky promontories and enchanting coves, bays, small beaches, sea caves and "Faraglioni", rocks sourced from the sea.
Behind this suggestive landscape, in direction of Catania, there is the biggest volcano in Europe and one of more active in the world: Etna, called also the Good Giant. This natural landscape has inspired the imagination and myths of the ancient poets and writers. Currently it's possible to make excursions on the volcano, which is one of the main favorite destination for skiers, in Sicily.
Near Etna, Alcantara river runs, a very important natural site. In fact, the river since 2001 has been recognized as one of the natural parks in Sicily: Parco Naturale Fluviale Regionale dell'Alcantara, for the variety of plant and animal species that live there.
Near the sea there are: Aci Trezza, Aci Castello and Riviera of the Cyclops, the mythical sites narrated by Homer. Here the coast takes on a dark color, due to the eruptions of Etna, which has covered the surrounding area of black lava.
Further south Catania city lies, a place rich of monuments to visit, churches, museums, castles and theaters. The city is famous because there had born Vincenzo Bellini, the famous musician. At him are dedicated many monuments in the city. Besides in this part of Sicily many important people of Italian literature were born or lived, as Giovanni Verga, Luigi Capuana and Federico De Roberto.
South of Catania, along the coast, you can visit the peninsula of Brucoli, where were found traces of Neolithic and Early Bronze Age and the city of Augusta, an island connected to the mainland by two bridges. Augusta was been recognized since 13° century as a fortress and military base.
Leaving the province of Catania to the south there is the city of Syracuse, connected by a bridge to Ortigia island. The city has many monuments to visit including the Greek Theatre, the Roman Amphitheater, the Santuario of Madonna delle Lacrime and the Ear of Dionysus, artificial cave (m.65 of length and 23 of height), which due its name to Michelangelo Merisi, Caravaggio. Another archaeological very interesting site in this province is Palazzolo Acreide.
The south-eastern coast of Sicily is one of the most suggestive landscape. A very interesting locality is Porto Palo, a little city in front of which lies the island of Capo Passero. This island preserves a remarkable and rare vegetation. Here the coast is more rugged and then in the south it becames sandy, in Ragusa Province. This province has many interesting places to visit and includes the Città Barocche della Val di Noto, an UNESCO listed site since 2002.
The southern coast of Sicily, bathed by the Mediterranean sea, is mostly sandy. The province of Ragusa is followed by Caltanissetta, which touches the sea with Gela, although not one of the most fascinating tourist coast, because of the oil refineries. The province of Caltanissetta borders on Enna, the only province far from the sea. Enna province inside presents another UNESCO site, the Villa Romana del Casale in Piazza Armerina (since 1997), and an important archaeological site, Morgantina, near Aidone.
After Gela you can visit Agrigento Province, with its beautiful and mostly sandy coast. Here the waters are very cold and there are strong currents. As for cultural sites, there are another UNESCO listed site since 1997 the Parco Archeologico della Valle dei Templi, in Agrigento, and other places. In the province were born other two very important Italian writers: Luigi Pirandello and Leonardo Sciascia.
Further west, a city of particular interest is Sciacca, which for the richness of the natural thermal waters that gush from the slopes of Mount Kronio is the first thermal place in Sicily. On the coast, near Sciacca, there is Menfi where the beach of Porto Palo has a national recognition as Blue Flag site.
In Agrigento Province there are some minor islands of Sicily: Pelagie Archipelago.
An archipelago formed by the Islands of Linosa, Lampedusa and Lampione, the smallest situated of Sicily towards the Tunisian coast. A barren windswept island with very little vegetation, Lampedusa is renowned for its clean sea and attracts visitors for its diving. The island has pretty coves on the south and impressive cliffs and rock formations which are best explored by taking a boat round it. The coastline is 26 km. In Lampedusa there is the only Italian, and one of the most important in Europe, site of egg-laying sea turtles, in particular Caretta caretta. The island was declared a zone of biological protection to defend the rich and spectacular backdrops.
Much less windy than Lampedusa, Linosa is renowned for being very hot. it's a volcanic island comprised of three extinct craters. Linosa retains a quiet charm, attracting many visitors in recent years. The coast has both cliffs and lava beaches and inland there is a certain amount of agriculture.
Pelagie archipelago is located not far from the island of Pantelleria, which belongs to the province of Trapani.
The second largest island after Malta in the southern Mediterranean, Pantelleria is mainly mountainous with many craters. In the island take place some volcanic phenomenas : coastal hot spring gushing water al 30-70°C, saltwater wells, jets of boiling steam, called favare, and steam-filled caves (stufe). The local stone-built house (dammusi) have vaulted roofs and are interesting sights. A spectacularly beautiful way of seeing the island, apart from driving over it, is to sail around and in this way visit its many caves – the haunt scuba divers - which would otherwise be inaccessible. A very interesting place to visit in Trapani province is Selinunte, the largest of Europe and most important in the Mediterranean area, archeological site. Further west, you can visit Mazara del Vallo, the largest maritime center of the south-western Sicily and an important fishing port in the Mediterranean sea. Following to the north lies the city of Marsala, famous for its "Stagnone" where there is the most important Phoenician colony in Sicily, Island Mozia, in front of which lies the archipelago Egadi Islands: Favignana, Levanzo, Marettimo and with Maraone Formica rocks.
The Favignana and Levanzo tonnare (tunny pens) are a great attraction and amongst the most important of Sicily. Favignana is the main islands of this archipelago: it lies to the south and the terrain is mostly fairly flat. Clear blue green waters and a beautiful coastline, mainly cliffs with a host of caves, make it a busy tourist resort. An attractive excursion can be made to Cala Grande beach and Galera and Galeotta sea rocks on the northwest coast. Four kilometers north of Favignana, Levanzo rises. The Island has a small harbor and a rocky coast. Two things to see in Levanzo are the Grotta del Genovese with its prehistoric paintings, and the Faraglione.
Lying 15 km west of the above two Island, Marettimo is the farthest from mainland. The landscape is largely mountainous and the waters are rich in fish. Remote and quite independent of the other Egadi islands, Marettimo is very much a fishing community. The port is attractive and the rugged interior can be accessed on foot. The coast is magnificent, with fascinating rock formation and caves, dramatic cliffs on the western side.
The coast between San Vito Lo Capo to the west and Messina is high and rocky , with frequent and large inlets such as Gulf of Castellammare del Golfo, of Palermo, of Termini Imerese and of Milazzo. The long beach, alternated with rocky coasts, but smooth, makes the north of Sicily one of the most remarkable sites of the island. In this area there are several natural reserves, especially between Palermo and Trapani: Riserva dello Zingaro, Capo Gallo, Isola delle Femmine and the Ustica Island.
Almost 60km north of Palermo lies Ustica Island, a marine reserve. It is a volcanic Island, very quiet in which the diving is one of the main activities. Inland there are peaceful walks through country rich vines, capers, lentils, figs and other fruit. The most spectacular way to see the island is by boat, around a coast with a fine array of caves, rocks, cliffs and coves. Very interesting to visit is the Santa Maria Tower an underwater archeology museum.
Palermo is the capital of Sicily and offers to visitors many thematic routes and itineraries. The dominators of the Island, in the centuries, leaved their sign in the numerous monuments of the city. The most popular monuments are: Palatine Chapel, Palace of the Normans, Zisa, the Cathedral, the theatres, the villas and churches. Palermo is famous also for the Puppet Theatre Sicilian Recognized, known as a property among Intangible Heritage of Humanity of UNESCO since 2001.
Located not far from Palermo, Monreale with its Cathedral and its cloister is a very important and famous attraction for visitors in Sicily. All Province of Palermo has many tourist attractions, as the villas of Bagheria, the archaeological sites of Solunto and Himera, the seaside town of Cefalù. The Cathedral, the monumental beauty and the sea make Cefalù one of the biggest tourist centers in Sicily.
Just behind Cefalù is the Parco Naturale Regionale delle Madonie, unlike other parks on the island in that is dotted with small towns and an increasingly popular ski resort.
From Cefalù to Messina there are some pebbly beaches. The very turistic resorts in the north of Sicily are Capo D'Orlando and Gioiosa Marea, in front of the Aeolian Islands. In this area you can visit the Santuario of Tindari and inland the Parco Naturale dei Nebrodi (since 1993). Aeolian archipelago is the largest of Sicily and it is formed by seven islands: Lipari, Salina, Vulcano, Panarea, Alicudi Filicudi and Stromboli. The Archipelago is affected by active volcanism, especially in Stromboli, and this is one of the reasons why the Aeolian Islands have been named World Heritage by UNESCO in 2000. The islands have a varied coastline, characterized by a succession of high cliffs and beaches, coves and rocks. The seven islands north of Milazzo make up one of the most popular tourist resorts in Sicily. The island are all different, ranging from the developed tourist resorts of Lipari and of Panarea, to rugged Vulcano, to the spectacular scenery of Stromboli with its active volcano, to the fertile vineyards of Salina and to the solitude of Alicudi e Filicudi. The circumnavigation of Sicily is closed with Aeolian Islands and Messina, from which is possible by ferries to go and visit Calabria, the most southern region of Italian peninsula.