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Slow Travel Google Map: Italy, Sicily

Author: DavidX
Notes: November 2006: Sicily in southern Italy. Most places need viewing at a higher zoom level; for example there are numerous specific markers in Palermo that don't show when the map shows all Sicily and the marker for Marinella conceals the one for the excellent site of Selinunte. Black markers are used here where I know nothing about the area.

Ancient Monuments

Time limit must-sees.

Your time is terribly restricted - hard luck!

Make sure you see at least the cathedral at Monreale - local bus from Palermo, the archaeological park at Siracusa, the Valley of the Temples at Agrigento and the Greek Theatre at Taormina.

Historical Buildings

Catacombe dei Cappucini

This is 'different.' In the catacombs there are masses of skeletons, clothed and separated by sex and profession.

Children might find it either intensely curious and exciting or interesting; on the other hand some would be terrified. It's your own responsibility to decide whether it's suitable for yours.

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Greek Theatre (SV)

I'm not into the debate about whether what's there now is Greek or Roman. The point is that it's marvellous.

What can be wrong with a place where you can see a show and look over Etna at the same time?
[Answer: the weather; hard seats; have you no romance?]

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La Zisa

Hype does no service for this fine building. Enjoy this 12th century castle for what it is [see 'read more'] and ignore any silly comparison with Granada's Alhambra.

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Palazzo Mirto

This palace was completed at the end of the 18th century on much older foundations and is one of the few palatial houses with furniture open to the public in the area.

I'm afraid imitation Italian is too good and too prolific for this to impress as much as it otherwise might.

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Palazzo dei Normanni

A building with a long and fascinating history.

There are excellent mosaics in the Cappella Palatina.

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S Giovanni degli Eremiti

This is a deconsecrated church dating from early medieval times with a mixture of styles and lovely red cupolas.

A visit easily combines with a trip to the Palace of the Normans and buses run nearby to both Monreale and the catacombs.

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Churches

Chiesa della Martorana

La Martorana is a stunningly beautiful church - click on 'read more' for some photos - but spare a few moments for the very simple church of San Catoldo, which is virtually adjacent.

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Large Towns

Catania

Many visitors arrive in Sicily at Catania Airport.

The city itself is a bit short on specific sights but it's the starting point for most people who go on trips up or round Etna.

It has excellent transport communications with most places on the island.

I could spend ages looking around in the excellent market.

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Palermo

The island capital.

There is, of course, plenty to see and I've put markers for places I particularly recommend; obviously there may be others you would prefer.

If you only have time for one thing, I should consider it a sin to miss a ride out to the cathedral at Monreale.

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Museums

Archaeological Museum

Closed when I was here and shouldn't have been according to any printed information!!

Purpose built.

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Archaeological Museum

Unlike the archaeological museums in Agrigento and Siracusa, this is not a purpose-built building but an interesting one, having been both a convent and a near ruin after wartime bombing.

It's as good as you would expect such a museum in the capital of Sicily to be and the rooms with artifacts from Selinunte are outstanding.

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Archaeological museum

One of Sicily's most modern museums, this one contains, inter alia, a reconstructed telamon [huge standing statue of a man.]

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Parks

Archaeological Park

A fabulous area of major sites including the Greek Theatre, the Paradise Quarries, and the Roman amphitheatre.

Very highly recommended.

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Selinunte

Very large area with numerous ruined and one restored temple. Also remains of housing and defensive wall in the acropolis area.

Very peaceful and VERY highly recommended.

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Valley of the Temples

One of the best known sites in Sicily with temple remains and one largely restored.

The temples to the east of the road are more fascinating if you have limited time but try to leave time for both.

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Sights

Etna

I've seen it from well above [plane] and below but never been on it or on the private railway round it.
If anybody would like to supplement or amend this, please contact Pauline.

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Lipari

Lipari is both an island and a town but I have marked the town separately, with a view over the harbour.

The island is the largest of the Aeolians and the second from Milazzo after Volcano.

If only I could have spent longer there to see it properly. One day - - -

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Monte Pellegrino

Buses here are a long time apart and you would do well to inquire at the TIC both about times and where to catch the bus.

It's a lovely ride up through splendid woods and with marvellous coastal views to the west.

Unless you're hyper religious or the weather has turned evil, get right up to the top rather than bothering with the shrine. Don't get any illusion that it would give pleasure to look more closely at the ghastly souvenir stalls in the bus parking area. Just revel in the place.

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Ortigia

This is an island that holds the historical heart of Sirasusa from Medieval times [though not its principal archaeological attractions.]

The cathedral is one of those that is more interesting on the inside, with enormous pillars from Nornan times.

Sadly what would otherwise be the viewpoint of Ortigia is used by the army and out of bounds.

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Towns

Agrigento

One of the best known places in Sicily because of the Valley of the Temples [qv]

You will need to go to a higher zoom level for the specific sights which are meant to be marked accurately.

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Castelvetrano

This is where you leave your train or major bus route to get a local bus to Selinunte, a VERY highly recommended trip.

Be prepared for the bus to be very, very late; then you shouldn't be disappointed.

Messina

Messina is the nearest town in Sicily to the Italian mainland and, prior to air travel, it was where the majority of visitors entered the island.

I spent longer than intended because of a rail strike when I was heading for Taormina. Hoewever it's worth a bit of time to wander by the busy waterfront and you should at least try to see the Astronomical Clock in the Piazza Duomo.

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Milazzo

Milazzo is visited by most purely as the port for ships and aliccofi [hydrofoils] to the Aeolian Islands.

However it has a huge and interesting citadel towering over the town.

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Sciacca

Sciacca is not a tourist town and there is limited accommodation. It gives a beautiful view down to the coast below.

There is a very fine local bus ride to the village of Caltabellotta.

Actually in Sciacca, it's pleasant to look round a relatively peaceful place, where the church serves as one end of a street washing line.

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Siracusa

Siracusa is very much a town worth seeing and calls for at least a one night stop. I didn't find two nights too much. It is also a good base for seeing the south-east of Sicily.

I have placed three specific markers, for which you will need a higher zoom level.

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Transportation

A black hole

I know nothing from my own experience about the coast between Siracusa and Agrigento.

I should love somebody to add to the map. If anybody is willing and able to do so, please contact Pauline.

Knowledge limit

There are many places in Sicily that I don't know. The whole area to the west of this road is included among them.

If anybody would be able and willing to remedy this defect, please contact Pauline.
davidx

On my wish list

When I visited Sicily, there was no winter bus service to the villa. if anybody has been and would be prepared to add a marker, please contact Pauline.

Villages

Caltabellotta

A great bus ride from Sciacca leads to this hilltop village. The terminus is near the top.

Every usable square foot of land is used at the top and at one point there's a tunnel under the ridge that seems to connect two unrelated weather systems.

A highly recommended trip.

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Castelbuono

For a start, don't get caught going to the station or you will have a LONG and STEEP walk. Use a bus from Cefalu.

There's not a lot of accommodation here. The Hotel Ariston is very cheap and I felt I was getting what I'd paid for.

Even so I enjoyed being in a 'real' Sicilian village. It's really very friendly and the view from the castle is stupendous.

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Cefalu

This is a village/town in size. it is now commonly found in the brochures of travel firms but seemed to have remained a basically simple place. There is a good beach below but its greatest claim to fame lies in its cathedral, a major site for byzantine mosaics. Sadly it was being refurbished when i was there and I missed the best of it.

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Lipari Village (SV)

Some photos for you if you click on 'read more'

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Marinella

Marinella is the village where you stay to see the splendid Greek site of Selinunte.

Monreale [a MUST-SEE]

Read anything about the cathedral at Monreale and you will almost certainly think it has to be hype - as I did. I assure you that it is no such thing.

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Taormina

Sometimes called a town, taormina's basic size is still only that of a village. Until relatively recently it was 'just another coastal and hillside village.'

Now it is one of the best known places in Sicily and deservedly so. Its luscious and plentiful vegetation and its views down over the coast should be enough to popularise it but in addition it has the wonderful Greek theatre [with a marker of its own.]

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