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10 fascinating facts about Sicily

Having been in possession of several empires over the centuries, Sicily is a hugely fascinating place with a unique culture which sets it apart from mainland Italy. If you’ve stayed in our villas Sicily before, you’ll have definitely appreciated its beautiful scenery, interesting architecture and ancient structures, delicious cuisine and welcoming people. Below are just a few interesting facts about the sunny Mediterranean island:

Visit places like this and stay at our villas in Sicily

1. Sicily’s capital, Palermo, was elected as the European capital of street food by Forbes back in 2015, and has been named “the culture capital of Italy” for 2018. Among the delicacies you can enjoy in Sicily are arancini (rice balls served with meat) and sfincione, a localised pizza, featuring tomato sauce, caciocavallo cheese, onions and anchovies.

2. Sicily is home to the largest opera house in Italy. Built in Palermo in 1897, the Teatro Massimo also features in a famous scene in The Godfather, Part Three.

3. Along with Italian and Sicilian, other languages spoken on the island by significant populations include French, German, Arabic and Romanian.

4. Over four fifths of the land on Sicily is hilly and mountainous, and the island is also home to a number of volcanoes, including the active Etna.

5. It takes roughly 3 and a half hours to cross the island from east to west, and around 2 and a half from north to south.

6. The sonnet, a popular form of poetry, first originated in Sicily. Most associated with the works of William Shakespeare, sonnets were in facts invented in the early 13th century by a poet from the Sicilian school of poetry, Giacoma da Lentini. They were made famous worldwide in the following century with works by poets such as Petrarca and Dante Alighieri.

7. Located in the central Mediterranean, Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, covering around 10,000 square miles.

8. Sicily is separated from the mainland by just 1.5 miles, and there has been much discussion about connecting the two together with a suspension, though it has never come to fruition.

9. The island is surrounded by three different seas: the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the Ionian Sea, which has made it a strategic point of interest for many civilisations in both Europe and Northern Africa over the centuries.

10. Some of the great people who have hailed from Sicily include the mathematician Archimedes, Domenico Dolce, one half of the iconic fashion house Dolce and Gabbana, and musician and composer Vincenzo Bellini.

Updated for 2017 we hope you’ve enjoyed these fantastic facts! 

Find out more in out recent “10 More Fascinating Facts About Sicily“! Have we missed any of your favourites?

If you are looking for a week long example itinerary of what you could get up to in Sicily, then check out our series 7 days in Sicily!

Image: Robyn Hooz, available under Creative Commons