The small towns of Sicily are charming, picturesque, and all very different. I am from a small town in Sicily, so my opinion might be a little biased, but I hope you can agree with me after reading this post!
Sicily has been influenced by the Greeks, Romans, Arab, Normans, French, and Spanish. There are 3 major dialects of Sicilian which can also be divided into sub-dialects. Our food has also been influenced by our colonizers. For example, grain was Sicily’s main crop since Roman times. Then the Arabs brought sugar, rice, and citrus fruits to the island. Sicily is now known as a street food capital of the world. Be sure to try Arancini and Cannoli while touring these small towns.
Cefalù is about an hour east of Palermo. It is a small town where every side street makes you think "these are typical Italian streets". They are Mediaeval streets with lots of shops, and great restaurants serving fresh fish from the sea, something we are very proud of in Sicily. It sits along the northern coast of Sicily. There are even a few arches where you can see right through to the beach.
Marsala is a coastal town in western Sicily. It is known for their ancient ruins, wine, and salt pans. You will learn about the production of salt and how the perfect combination of sea water, wind energy, sun, and little rainfall makes great salt. There are beautiful pink waters with windmills and piles of salt which make for an interesting visit.
San Giuseppe Jato is a small town located 30 minutes south of Palermo. In the mountains, is The Old City of Jato and the Monte Jato Archaeological Area. You will see a theater that dates back to the 4th century BC that the town still uses for theatre performances in the summer. At the top, you will not only see a beautiful view of the present town of San Giuseppe Jato, but also can admire all the mountains that surround the city. The town is even putting together a public map to find all the best spots.
Fun Fact: I took this photo while hiking in the mountains one day, and won a photo contest with it :)
Agrigento is best known for The Valley of Temples located in southwest Sicily. It is an archaeological site, and named an UNESCO site in 1997. The Archaeological Area of Agrigento was “founded as a Greek colony in the 6th century B.C. and became one of the leading cities in the Mediterranean world” according to the UNESCO site. There are still doric temples standing and are well preserved/protected.
Not too far from Agrigento is Realmonte where you can find the famous ‘Stair of the Turks’. It is a rocky white cliff on the coast of Realmonte that overlooks the sea. It’s fun, and easy to climb!
A small city inland, commune in the Metropolitan City of Catania, southwest of Catania is Caltagirone. Best known for the Staircase of Santa María del Monte and more importantly their pottery production. The local artisans got the raw material directly from the clay caves and quickly became producers of beautiful ceramics. The entire town is decorated with colorful mosaics.
Syracuse or Siracusa is known for their archeological sites. The most famous site is the Ear of Dionysius - a cave carved out of limestone. On top of a hill is a Greek theatre carved entirely from rock. There is also the Ortygia market where you can buy local products. Syracuse is located on the southeast of Sicily touching the Ionian Sea.
Taormina is a town known for their hospitality. It is another archaeological wonderland where a theatre sits on top of a mountain looking over the sea. The Teatro Antico di Taormina, an ancient Greco-Roman theater, is still used today. There is also an island near Taormina called “Isola Bella” which is a nature reserve.
Motta Camastra is a city inland from Taormina. Not too far away is Gole Alcantara Botanical and Geological Park. There is a river not too far from the center that is in a volcanic gorge and now an attraction featuring a museum, rafting & other activities.
These small towns are just a glimpse of how much Sicily has to offer. Our history, culture, and pride is something to learn about while vacationing here. We enjoy our farm to table lifestyle, and hope our warm welcome will have you coming back every year!