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Archive for sicily

Volcanic Splendor in Sicily

By Linda Tancs

Stromboli is more than an Italian-style turnover. It’s also one of a string of UNESCO-designated islands north of Sicily known as the Aeolian Islands. Shaped over the millenia by volcanic activity, the islands are named Lipari, Vulcano, Panarea, Salina, Alicudi, Filicudi and Stromboli. Charming and idyllic, each island has its own flair, from the street-free, donkey-fueled transport of Alicudi to the drama of a night cruise in Stromboli to witness its volcano’s fiery emissions, one of the most active volcanoes in Europe. From the largest of the islands (Lipari) to the smallest (Panarea), enjoy some local treats, like a sulfurous bath in Vulcano, sweet Malvasia wine and seasoned bread. Milazzo, Sicily, offers the most reliable ferry services to the islands.

The Door to Sicily

By Linda Tancs

The Greeks founded the Sicilian city of Messina and named it “Zancle,” a reference to its sickle-shaped natural harbor that provides a main point of entry for visitors. Just three miles across the Strait of Messina, its most famous attraction is likely the astronomical clock. Be there at noon for the movement that lasts about 12 minutes. The clock’s figures include a roaring lion and crowing rooster. Afterwards you can visit the tower for amazing views of the city.

Valley of the Temples

By Linda Tancs

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Valley of the Temples is a testament to Magna Graecia (Great Greece) in Agrigento, Sicily. It boasts remarkable temple ruins dedicated to the gods and built by the rulers of Akragas (now Agrigento), one of the largest Greek cities on the Mediterranean in the sixth century B.C. Now in ruins, the colossal Temple to Zeus was one of the biggest Greek temples in antiquity. The oldest temple is Hercules, but the best preserved is Concordia. Most city buses leave from Piazzale Rosselli and ride by the site.

Sicily’s White Elephant

By Linda Tancs

The Grande Hotel San Calogero in Sicily has been waiting for guests for over 60 years. Dubbed the ghost hotel, it stands vacant for decades now thanks to governmental gaffes and design flaws. The 300-bed, five-story hotel was intended to showcase southern Sicily’s Sciacca, a pretty seaside town built on rocky heights that overlook the Mediterranean. Sicily’s white elephant stands atop a rocky outcrop on Monte Kronio, within walking distance of the thermal springs and basilica.

Palace of the Normans

By Linda Tancs

A stronghold of Palermo, Sicily, the Palace of the Normans is a testament to the cultural, historical and religious influence of the region’s invaders over the centuries.  The palace was begun in the 9th century when Sicily was under Islamic rule and still retains Arabian vaults in the basement.  When the Normans conquered Sicily in 1072, the building was transformed into an administrative and residential compound marked by arcades and exquisitely designed gardens, an appropriate dwelling for the Sicilian kingdom established under Norman rule.  King Roger II added the stunning Cappella Palatina, a chapel boasting Byzantine, Islamic and Norman styles that is highly prized for its elegant mosaics.  Following additional reconstruction by the Spanish and Bourbons, the palace ultimately became, and remains, the seat of Sicily’s regional parliament.

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