Sicily is significantly different from northern Italy, mostly because of the organizational “chaos”, definitely fitting into the climate of southern Europe. However, during my short three-day trip I focused on visiting the most interesting aspects of the island: architectural monuments and natural wonders, e.g. Etna.
Palermo is the biggest city of the island. The cathedral, which is located in the center of Palermo, was built in the Norman style in 12th century. Arab-Norman Palermo was strongly influenced by a particular political and cultural coexistence of people of different origins (Muslim, Byzantine, Latin, Jewish, Lombard, and French). This interchange generated a conscious and unique combination of elements derived from the architectural and artistic techniques of Byzantine, Islamic, and Western traditions.
Porta Felice is a monumental gate located in area Foro Italico and Castellammare quarter. It is a symbol of water-side entrance to the city into Via Cassaro, which is the oldest main street of the city.
During the trip from Palermo to Catania we can explore the most characteristic landscape of the island: hills, covered with olive trees and rows of vineyards stretching out towards fertile plains, sprinkled with orange trees, the coast with crystal-clear blue sea, sandy beaches and rocky cliffs. Before arriving to the city of Catania, we see the majestic Etna.
With 3350 m, mount Etna is the highest active volcano in Europe. It has erupted more than 150 throughout its whole history.
One of the most memorable explosions took place in 396 BCE during the battle between Catania and Carthaginian army (by successfully hinder Carthaginian’s from attempting Siracuse)
From geological point of view, Etna, or rather a complex Etna is a constantly evolving natural environment composed of about 270craters.
You can’t go above 2900 m without a guide. Not only because it is difficult to walk above 3000 m but also there might be “fumarole” (sulfur fumes) , dangerous for human’s health.
There are many different touristic companies offering guide tours to explore Etna. I bought a trip with Etna Experience and can definitely recommend them!
I hope to come back soon to visit the rest of the island!