Travel Unlimited

The Sicilian Vacation - June 2011



Italien ohne Sizilien macht gar kein bild in der Seele: hier ist erst der Schlüssel zu allem!

J.W. Goethe april 1787.

Seeing Italy without a visit to Sicily does not leave a lasting impression as Sicily is the key to everything


Planning en map


# day date activity sleep Hotel
1 Sat 11/jun Arrival Catania 16.45 hr Nicolosi Giara B&B
2 Sun 12/jun Sicilian Brunch (18€) and slow walking Etna with Wine tasting (45€) Nicolosi Giara B&B
3 Mon 13/jun Driving tour: Western Etna Flank + Taormina Nicolosi Giara B&B
4 Tue 14/jun Drive to Enna, further to villa Romana del casale, via Aidone Piazza Armerina Volpeuva
5 Wed 15/jun Valle dei Templi - Evening with lights Agrigento Max B&B
6 Thu 16/jun Drive to Caltabellotta, contiunue to Selinunte (284 ha), Rocca di Cusa - Segesta  (greek temples)  Trapani Due Badie
7 Fri 17/jun Morning Erice, aftrenoon drive the via del sale and visit Mozia  Trapani Due Badie
8 Sat 18/jun Drive to Cefalu Cefalu L'Arca
9 Sun 19/jun Palermo - Sunday is quiet in Palermo Morning: Monreale Cathedral and cloister, afternoon walk around Palermo and visit Archeological museum - evening 18.30 Puppet theatre Teatro dei Pupi Cuticchio Cefalu L'Arca
10 Mon 20/jun Palermo Morning: Market Mercate del Capo and  Mercato della Vucciria, afternoon La Martorana, Palazzo dei Normani and Cappella Palatina Cefalu L'Arca
11 Tue 21/jun Visit Cefalu day trip + Visit Cacamo Cefalu L'Arca
12 Wed 22/jun Drive toTaormina, visit montalbano and Tindaris Taormina Villa Schiticchiu
13 Thu 23/jun syracuse - Neapolis  syracuse Itaca B&B
14 Fri 24/jun syracuse - Ortyga syracuse Itaca B&B
15 Sat 25/jun departure at 12.20



View in detail


In the footsteps of the Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthagians, Romans, Goths, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Germans, Spaniards and French we will leave our small footprint on the island.
It took Goethe 4 days to get from Naples to Palermo by ship, staying in his cabin for most of the time due to “mal de mer”.
With Italy’s pride aircarrier alI’Italia we will did it in 4 hours from Belgium. We had to do Goethe’s 6 weeks tour of the island in two weeks, but then we had a four wheeler that carried us with Godspeed across the entire island.



It is especially the Greeks that have left a mark on the the history of Sicily when they started their First colonies in the 8th century. The Greeks liked a good fight between their “poleis”, but they still were able to create a period of economical and cultural growth which can be seen in the building of several Temples.
As a result of the first punic war Sicily became a Roman province. (Remember Scipio Maior’s “Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam). This was a raw deal for Sicily, well documented in the famous trial of Cicero against the corrupt governor Verres. The next 700 years Sicily would be exploited as the granary of Rome. The island got populated with slaves, culminating in two slave revolts that got brutaly surpressed.

In A.D. 440 Sicily fell to the Vandals, who shortly afterwards passed it by treaty to the Ostrogoths; and for a time the island was ruled by Gothic counts. In 535 Emperor Justinian came to “liberate” the island and to make it an Imperial province. They just continued to treat Sicily the Roman way for the next 300 years , just a bit harsher. In 663 Emperor Constans II even transferred his capital from Constantinople to Syracuse. Five years later he got killed in his bathtub and the court moved back to Constantinople.

By now the Arabs we moving in on the island. They had already overrun the whole North African coast and by 827 they had a permanent foot on the island. The island benefitted from new agricultural innovations (terracing, syphon aqueducts for irrigation) and the introduction of cotton, papyrus, citrus, date palms and sugar cane.
In 1091 the Normans were to have control of the island. And there presence can still be seen in the many castle and churches they left all over the island. Erice and Monreale cathedral to name but a few.


After the Normans the French took over (Sicilian Vespers) and they were replaced by the Spaniards who treated it as they did with all their colonies: badly!

In the 1849 Garibaldi used Sicily as a starting point to unite the rest of modern day Italy and kicked all the freeloaders out of country (French, Austrians & Spaniards).

Sicily was now part of Italy but it has never felt that way, and they loathed the Italian government as much as the prior occupiers. So they formed these cosa nostra organizations of which I, for safety reasons, will not further elaborate. Watching “the Godfather” starring Marlon Brando might give some insight into that.



Great Reads


  Donald Kagan tells a great storyof how Athens, the world power at that time, lost it all due to Syracusa. A great read!


Julius Norwich gives a perfect account of the Norman times in Sicily and the South of Italy. A must read!


A nice film about the"fin de siècle" fee l in Sicily


A present day detective. A wonderful way to getthe feel of Sicilian life. Andrea Camillieri was born in Agrigento.