SICILY (/ˈsɪsᵻli/ _SISS-i-lee_ ; Italian : _Sicilia_ , Sicilian
: _Sicìlia_) is the largest island in the
Mediterranean Sea . It is
an autonomous region of
Italy , along with surrounding minor islands,
officially referred to as _Regione Siciliana_ (in Italian , Sicilian
Sicily is located in the central Mediterranean Sea, south of the
Italian Peninsula , from which it is separated by the narrow Strait of
Messina . Its most prominent landmark is
Mount Etna , the tallest
active volcano in Europe, and one of the most active in the world,
currently 3,329 m (10,922 ft) high. The island has a typical
Mediterranean climate .
The earliest archaeological evidence of human activity on the island
dates from as early as 12,000 BC. By around 750 BC,
Sicily had three
Phoenician and a dozen Greek colonies and, for the next 600 years, it
was the site of the
Sicilian Wars and the
Punic Wars . After the fall
Roman Empire in the 5th century AD,
Sicily was ruled during the
Early Middle Ages by the
Vandals , the
Ostrogoths , the Byzantine
Empire , and the
Emirate of Sicily . The Norman conquest of southern
Italy led to the creation of the
Kingdom of Sicily , which was
subsequently ruled by the
Hohenstaufen , the
Capetian House of Anjou ,
Spain , the
House of Habsburg , It was finally unified under the
House of Bourbon
House of Bourbon with the
Kingdom of Naples as the Kingdom of the Two
Sicilies . It became part of
Italy in 1860 following the Expedition of
the Thousand , a revolt led by
Giuseppe Garibaldi during the Italian
unification , and a plebiscite.
Sicily was given special status as an
autonomous region after the Italian constitutional referendum of 1946
Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the
arts , music , literature , cuisine , and architecture . It is also
home to important archaeological and ancient sites, such as the
Necropolis of Pantalica , the Valley of the Temples , and
* 1 Geography
* 1.1 Rivers
* 1.2 Climate
* 2 Flora and fauna
* 3 History
* 3.1 Ancient tribes
* 3.2 Phoenician, Carthaginian, Greek and Roman period
* 3.3 Germanic and Byzantine periods (467–965)
* 3.3.1 Germanic (467–535)
* 3.3.2 Byzantine (535–965)
Arab Period (827–1091)
* 3.5 Norman
Kingdom of Sicily
Sicily under Spanish rule
* 4 20th and 21st centuries
* 5 Demographics
* 5.1 Major settlements
* 5.2 Population genetics
* 5.3 Ethno-linguistic minorities
* 6 Politics
* 6.1 Administrative divisions
* 7 Economy
* 7.1 Agriculture
* 7.2 Industry and manufacturing
* 7.3 Statistics
* 7.3.1 GDP growth
* 7.3.2 Economic sectors
* 8 Transport
* 8.1 Roads
* 8.2 Railways
* 8.4 Ports
* 8.5 Planned bridge
* 9 Tourism
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
* 9.1.1 Tentative Sites
* 9.2 Archeological sites
* 9.3 Castles
* 9.4 Coastal towers
* 10 Culture
* 10.1 Art and architecture
* 10.2 World Heritage Sites
* 10.3 Music and film
* 10.4 Literature
* 10.5 Language
* 10.6 Science
* 10.7 Education
* 10.8 Religion
* 10.9 Cuisine
* 10.10 Sports
* 10.11 Popular culture
* 10.12 Regional symbols
* 11 Notable people
* 12 References
* 13 Further reading
* 14 External links
The island of
Sicily Sicilian landscape
Sicily has a roughly triangular shape, earning it the name
_Trinacria_. To the east, it is separated from the Italian mainland by
Strait of Messina , about 3 km (1.9 mi) wide in the north, and
about 16 km (9.9 mi) wide in the southern part. The northern and
southern coasts are each about 280 km (170 mi) long measured as a
straight line, while the eastern coast measures around 180 km (110
mi); total coast length is estimated at 1,484 km (922 mi). The total
area of the island is 25,711 km2 (9,927 sq mi), while the Autonomous
Sicily (which includes smaller surrounding islands) has an
area of 27,708 km2 (10,698 sq mi). the Rocca Salvatesta over
Fondachelli Fantina ,
The terrain of inland
Sicily is mostly hilly and is intensively
cultivated wherever possible. Along the northern coast, the mountain
Madonie , 2,000 m (6,600 ft),
Nebrodi , 1,800 m (5,900 ft),
Peloritani , 1,300 m (4,300 ft), are an extension of the mainland
Apennines . The cone of
Mount Etna dominates the eastern coast. In the
southeast lie the lower
Hyblaean Mountains , 1,000 m (3,300 ft). The
mines of the
Caltanissetta districts were part of a leading
sulphur -producing area throughout the 19th century, but have declined
since the 1950s.
Sicily and its surrounding small islands have some highly active
Mount Etna is the largest active volcano in
still casts black ash over the island with its ever-present eruptions.
It currently stands 3,329 metres (10,922 ft) high, though this varies
with summit eruptions; the mountain is 21 m (69 ft) lower now than it
was in 1981. It is the highest mountain in
Italy south of the
Etna covers an area of 1,190 km2 (459 sq mi) with a basal
circumference of 140 km (87 mi). This makes it by far the largest of
the three active volcanoes in
Italy , being about two and a half times
the height of the next largest,
Mount Vesuvius . In
Greek Mythology ,
the deadly monster Typhon was trapped under the mountain by
Zeus , the
god of the sky.
Mount Etna is widely regarded as a cultural symbol and
icon of Sicily.
Mount Etna rising over suburbs of
Aeolian Islands in the
Tyrrhenian Sea , to the northeast of
Sicily form a volcanic complex, and include
Stromboli . The
three volcanoes of
Lipari are also currently
active, although the latter is usually dormant. Off the southern coast
of Sicily, the underwater volcano of
Ferdinandea , which is part of
Empedocles volcano , last erupted in 1831. It is located
between the coast of
Agrigento and the island of
itself is a dormant volcano).
The autonomous region also includes several neighbouring islands: the
Aegadian Islands , the Aeolian Islands,
The island is drained by several rivers, most of which flow through
the central area and enter the sea at the south of the island. The
Salso flows through parts of
Caltanissetta before entering
Mediterranean Sea at the port of
Licata . To the east, the
Alcantara flows through the province of
Messina and enters the sea at
Giardini Naxos , and the
Simeto , which flows into the Ionian Sea
Catania . Other important rivers on the island are the Belice
and Platani in the southwest.
LENGTH IN KM (MI)
144 km (89 mi)
113 km (70 mi)
107 km (66 mi)
105 km (65 mi)
103 km (64 mi)
81 km (50 mi)
74 km (46 mi)
72 km (45 mi)
58 km (36 mi)
57 km (35 mi)
54 km (34 mi)
53 km (33 mi)
52 km (32 mi)
45 km (28 mi)
40 km (25 mi)
Location of the
Simeto near Saraceni Bridge
Sicily has a typical
Mediterranean climate with mild and wet winters
and hot, dry summers with very changeable intermediate seasons. On the
coasts, especially the south-western, the climate is affected by the
African currents and summers can be scorching.
Sicily is seen as an island of warm winters but also, above all along
the Tyrrhenian coast and in the inland areas, winters can be cold,
with typical continental climate.
Snow falls in abundance above 900–1000 metres, but stronger cold
waves can easily carry it in the hills and even in coastal cities,
especially in the northern coast of island. The interior mountains,
Madonie and Etna, enjoy a fully mountain climate,
with heavy snowfalls during winter. The summit of
Mount Etna is
usually snow capped from October to May.
On the other hand, especially in the summer it is not unusual that
there is the sirocco, the wind from the Sahara. Rainfall is scarce,
and water proves deficient in some provinces where water crisis can
According to the Regional Agency for Waste and Water, on 10 August
1999, the weather station of
Catenanuova (EN) recorded a maximum
temperature of 48.5 °C (119 °F). The official European record –
measured by minimum/maximum thermometers – is held by Athens,
Greece, which reported a maximum of 48.0 °C (118 °F) in 1977. Total
precipitation is highly variable, generally increasing with elevation.
In general, the southern and southeast coast receives the least
rainfall (less than 50 cm (20 in)), and the northern and northeastern
highlands the most (over 100 cm (39 in)).
FLORA AND FAUNA
Zingaro Natural Reserve
Sicily is an often-quoted example of man-made deforestation , which
has occurred since Roman times, when the island was turned into an
agricultural region. This gradually dried the climate, leading to a
decline in rainfall and the drying of rivers. The central and
southwest provinces are practically devoid of any forest. In Northern
Sicily, there are three important forests; near Mount Etna, in the
Nebrodi Mountains and in the Bosco della Ficuzza's Natural Reserve
Palermo . The
Nebrodi Mountains Regional Park, established on 4
August 1993 and covering 86,000 hectares (210,000 acres), is the
largest protected natural area of Sicily; and contains the largest
forest in Sicily, the Caronia. The
Hundred Horse Chestnut (Castagno
dei Cento Cavalli), in Sant\'Alfio , on the eastern slopes of Mount
Etna, is the largest and oldest known chestnut tree in the world at
2,000 – 4,000 years old.
Sicily has a good variety of fauna. Species include fox, least weasel
, pine marten , roe deer , wild boar , crested porcupine , hedgehog ,
common toad , _
Vipera aspis _, golden eagle , peregrine falcon ,
hoopoe and black-winged stilt .
Sicily is an important habitat for
the survival of several species, an example being the subspecies of
hooded crow _Corvus cornix_ which is only found in Sicily, Sardinia
The Zingaro Natural Reserve is one of the best examples of unspoiled
coastal wilderness in Sicily.
Surrounding waters including
Strait of Messina are home to varieties
of birds and marine life , including larger species such as flamingos
and fin whales .
History of Sicily
Avola , east
Sicily Megaliths of
The original inhabitants of
Sicily were three defined groups of the
ancient peoples of
Italy . The most prominent and by far the earliest
of these was the
Sicani , who were said by
Thucydides to have arrived
Iberian Peninsula (perhaps
Catalonia ). Important
historical evidence has been discovered in the form of cave drawings
by the Sicani, dated from the end of the
Pleistocene epoch around 8000
BC. The arrival of the first humans on the island is correlated with
the extinction of the
Sicilian Hippopotamus and the dwarf elephant .
Elymians , thought to be from the
Aegean Sea , were the next tribe
to join the Sicanians on Sicily.
Monte Bubbonia ,
Recent discoveries of dolmens on the island (dating to the second
half of the third millennium BC) seems to offer new insights into the
culture of primitive Sicily. It is well known that the Mediterranean
region went through a quite intricate prehistory, so much so that it
is difficult to piece together the muddle of different peoples who
have followed each other. The impact of two influences is clear,
however: the European one coming from the Northwest, and the
Mediterranean influence of a clear eastern heritage.
There is no evidence of any warring between the tribes, but the
Sicanians moved eastwards when the
Elymians settled in the northwest
corner of the island. The
Sicels are thought to have originated in
Liguria ; they arrived from mainland
Italy in 1200 BC and forced the
Sicanians to move back across
Sicily and settle in the middle of the
island. Other minor Italic groups who settled in
Sicily were the
Aeolian Islands ,
Milazzo ) and the
Studies of genetic records reveal that peoples from various parts of
Mediterranean Basin mixed with the ancient inhabitants of Sicily,
including Egyptians and Iberians.
PHOENICIAN, CARTHAGINIAN, GREEK AND ROMAN PERIOD
Magna Graecia ,
Ancient Rome , and Sicilia (Roman
province) Ruins of the ancient Phoenician city of
Selinunte (Temple E) The Sicilian province in
the Roman Empire.
The Phoenician settlements in the western part of the island predates
Greeks . From about 750 BC, the
Greeks began to live in Sicily
(Σικελία – _Sikelia_), establishing many important
settlements. The most important colony was in Syracuse ; others were
located at Akragas ,
Himera and Zancle . The
Sicani and Sicel peoples were absorbed into the Hellenic
culture with relative ease, and the area became part of _Magna
Graecia_ along with the rest of southern
Italy , which the
Sicily was very fertile, and the successful
introduction of olives and grape vines created a great deal of
profitable trading; a significant part of Greek culture on the island
was that of the Greek religion , and many temples were built
throughout Sicily, including several in the _Valley of the Temples_ at
Politics on the island was intertwined with that of Greece; Syracuse
became desired by the Athenians who set out on the Sicilian Expedition
Peloponnesian War . Syracuse gained
Sparta and Corinth as
allies and, as a result, the
Athenian expedition was defeated. The
Athenian army and ships were destroyed, with most of the survivors
being sold into slavery. Greco-Roman theatre at
Greek Syracuse controlled much of Sicily, though there were a few
Carthaginian colonies in the far west of the island. The two cultures
began to clash, leading to the
Greek-Punic wars .
Greece had begun to
make peace with the
Roman Republic in 262 BC, and the Romans sought to
Sicily as their republic's first province. Rome intervened in
First Punic War , crushing Carthage, so that
Sicily had become the
first Roman province outside of the
Italian Peninsula by 242 BC.
Archimedes was murdered in the
Second Punic War , which saw Carthage
again trying to take
Sicily from the Roman Republic. They failed, and
Rome was even more unrelenting in its annihilation of the invaders
Roman consul M. Valerian told the
Roman Senate in 210 BC
that "no Carthaginian remains in Sicily".
Sicily served a level of high importance for the Romans, as it acted
as the empire's granary . It was divided into two quaestorships , in
the form of Syracuse to the east and
Lilybaeum to the west. Some
attempt was made under
Augustus to introduce the
Latin language to the
Sicily was allowed to remain largely Greek in a cultural
sense. The once prosperous and contented island went into sharp
Verres became governor of Sicily. In 70 BC, noted figure
Cicero condemned the misgovernment of
Verres in his oration _In Verrem
The island was used as a base of power numerous times, being occupied
by slave insurgents during the First and Second Servile Wars , and by
Sextus Pompey during the
Sicilian revolt . Christianity first appeared
Sicily during the years following AD 200; between this time and AD
313, Constantine the Great finally lifted the prohibition on
Christianity, but not before a significant number of Sicilians had
become martyrs , including Agatha , Christina , Lucy , and
Christianity grew rapidly in
Sicily over the next two centuries. The
period of history during which
Sicily was a Roman province lasted for
around 700 years.
GERMANIC AND BYZANTINE PERIODS (467–965)
Byzantine Empire Historic map of
Sicily by Piri
As the Western
Roman Empire was falling apart, a Germanic tribe known
Vandals briefly took
Sicily in AD 467-8 under the rule of their
Geiseric but in 476 the island was returned to
Odoacer , who was
ruling Italy, 476-93, in the name of the Byzantine (Eastern Roman)
Vandals had already invaded parts of Roman France ,
Spain, and Portugal, asserting themselves as an important power in
Western Europe. However, they soon lost these newly acquired
possessions to another East Germanic tribe in the form of the
The Ostrogothic conquest of
Italy as a whole) under
Theodoric the Great
Theodoric the Great began in 488. The
Goths were Germanic, but
Theodoric sought to revive Roman culture and government and allowed
freedom of religion.
Forty-seven years later the
Gothic War (535–554) began between the
Ostrogoths and the Eastern Roman Empire, also known as the Byzantine
Sicily was the first part of
Italy to be taken by general
Belisarius , who was commissioned by
Justinian I as
part of an ambitious attempt to restore the whole Roman Empire,
thereby uniting the Eastern and the Western halves.
Sicily was used
as a base for the Byzantines to conquer the rest of Italy, with Naples
Milan , and the Ostrogoth capital
Ravenna falling within five
years. However, new Ostrogoth king
Totila drove down the Italian
peninsula, plundering and conquering
Sicily in 550. Totila, in turn,
was defeated and killed in the
Battle of Taginae
Battle of Taginae by Byzantine general
Narses in 552.
In 535, Emperor
Justinian I made
Sicily a Byzantine province and, as
in Roman times, Greek continued to be the predominate language spoken
on the island. After the advent of
Sicily was invaded by the
Arab forces of Caliph Uthman in 652, but the
Arabs failed to make any
permanent gains and returned to Syria after gathering some booty.
Byzantine Emperor Constans II decided to move from the capital
Constantinople to Syracuse in
Sicily during 660. The following year,
he launched an assault from
Sicily against the Lombard Duchy of
Benevento , which then occupied most of southern Italy. Rumors that
the capital of the empire was to be moved to Syracuse probably cost
Constans his life, as he was assassinated in 668. His son Constantine
IV succeeded him, a brief usurpation in
quickly suppressed by the new emperor. Contemporary accounts report
Greek language was widely spoken on the island during this
period. In 740 Emperor
Leo III the Isaurian transferred
the jurisdiction of the church of Rome to that of Constantinople,
placing the island within the eastern church.
By 826, Euphemius , the Byzantine commander in Sicily, had apparently
killed his wife and forced a nun to marry him. Emperor Michael II
caught wind of the matter and ordered general Constantine to end the
marriage and cut off Euphemius' head. Euphemius rose up, killed
Constantine, and then occupied Syracuse; he in turn was defeated and
driven out to North Africa. He offered the rule of
Sicily to Ziyadat
Allah , the
Aghlabid Emir of
Tunisia , in return for a position as a
general and a place of safety. A Muslim army was then sent to the
island consisting of
Arabs , Berbers ,
Cretans , and Persians .
Muslim conquest of Sicily was a see-saw affair and met with much
resistance. It took over a century for Byzantine
Sicily to be
conquered; the largest city, Syracuse, held out until 878 and the
Greek city of
Taormina fell in 962. It was not until 965 that all of
Sicily was conquered by Berbers and
Arabs . In the 11th century
Byzantine armies carried out a partial reconquest of the island under
George Maniakes , but it was their Norman mercenaries who would
eventually complete the island's reconquest at the end of the century.
ARAB PERIOD (827–1091)
Emirate of Sicily Façade of La Magione church,
an example of Arab-Norman architecture
Arabesque on a wall in
the Cuba Palace in
Arabs initiated land reforms , which increased productivity and
encouraged the growth of smallholdings , undermining the dominance of
the latifundia . The
Arabs further improved irrigation systems. The
language spoken in
Arab rule was
Siculo-Arabic and Arabic
influence is still present in some Sicilian words today. Although the
language is extinct in Sicily, it has developed into what is now the
Maltese language on the islands of
Malta today. Trilingual sign
Palermo in Italian, Hebrew and
A description of
Palermo was given by
Ibn Hawqal , an
Sicily in 950. A walled suburb, called the Al-Kasr (the
palace), is the centre of
Palermo to this day, with the great Friday
mosque on the site of the later Roman cathedral. The suburb of
Kalsa ) contained the
Sultan 's palace, baths, a
mosque, government offices, and a private prison.
Ibn Hawqal reckoned
7,000 individual butchers trading in 150 shops.
Palermo was initially
ruled by the
Aghlabids ; later it was the centre of Emirate of Sicily
under the nominal suzerainty of the
Fatimid Caliphate .
Throughout this reign, revolts by Byzantine Sicilians continuously
occurred, especially in the east, and parts of the island were
re-occupied before being quashed. Agricultural items such as oranges,
lemons, pistachio and sugarcane were brought to Sicily. Under the
Arab rule, the island was aligned in three administrative regions , or
"vals", roughly corresponding to the three "points" of Sicily: Val di
Mazara in the west;
Val Demone in the northeast; and
Val di Noto in
the southeast. As dhimmis , the native
Eastern Orthodox Christians
were allowed freedom of religion , but had to pay a tax, the jizya ,
and experienced some limitations to actively participate in public
Emirate of Sicily began to fragment as intra-dynastic quarrelling
fractured the Muslim regime. During this time, there was also a minor
NORMAN SICILY (1038–1198)
See also: Norman conquest of southern
Italy Roger I conqueror
and first count of Sicily, depicted on a
Cefalù at night
In 1038, seventy years after losing their last cities in Sicily, the
Byzantines under the Greek general
George Maniakes invaded the island
together with their Varangian and Norman mercenaries. Although
Maniakes was killed in a Byzantine civil war in 1043 before completing
Normans would complete a conquest of
Sicily from the
Arabs under Roger I . After taking
Calabria , Roger
Messina with an army of 700 knights. In 1068, Roger was
Misilmeri , but the most crucial battle was the siege of
Palermo, which led to most of
Sicily coming under Norman control in
Normans finished their conquest in 1091, when they captured
Noto , which was the last
Roger died in 1101 and was succeeded by his son Roger II , who was
the first King of Sicily. The elder Roger was married to Adelaide ,
who ruled until her son came of age in 1112.
Hauteville family , who were descendants of
Vikings , came
to appreciate and admire the rich and layered culture in which they
now found themselves. And they began implementing their own culture,
customs, and politics in the region. Many
adopted some of the attributes of Muslim rulers and their Byzantine
subjects in dress, language, literature, and even in the presence of
palace eunuchs and, according to some accounts, a harem. The court
of Roger II became the most luminous centre of culture in the
Mediterranean, both from
Europe and the Middle East, like the
Caliphate of Córdoba , then only just eclipsed. This
attracted scholars, scientists, poets, artists, and artisans of all
kinds. Laws were issued in the language of the community to whom they
were addressed in Norman Sicily, still with heavy
Arab and Greek
influence. The governance was by the rule of law, so there was
justice. Muslims, Jews, Byzantine
Greeks , Lombards, and Normans
worked together to form a society that historians have said created
some of the most extraordinary buildings that the world has ever seen.
KINGDOM OF SICILY
Kingdom of Sicily and
List of monarchs of Sicily
Cathedral of Monreale
Palermo continued on as the capital under the
Normans . Roger's son
Roger II of Sicily succeeded his brother
Simon of Sicily as Count of
Sicily, and was ultimately able to raise the status of the island to a
kingdom in 1130, along with his other holdings, which included the
Maltese Islands and the Duchies of
Calabria . He
appointed the powerful Greek
George of Antioch to be his "emir of
emir's" and continued the syncretism of his father. During this
Kingdom of Sicily was prosperous and politically powerful,
becoming one of the wealthiest states in all of Europe—even
wealthier than the
Kingdom of England .
Significantly, immigrants from Northern
during this period. Linguistically, the island shifted from being one
third Greek and two thirds
Arabic speaking at the time of the Norman
conquest to becoming fully
Latinised . In terms of the church, it
became completely Roman Catholic; previously, it had been Eastern
Orthodox under the Byzantines.
After a century, the Norman Hauteville dynasty died out; the last
direct descendant and heir of Roger, Constance , married Emperor Henry
VI . This eventually led to the crown of
Sicily being passed on to
Hohenstaufen Dynasty , who were
Swabia . The last of
the Hohenstaufens, Frederick II , the only son of Constance , was one
of the greatest and most cultured men of the Middle Ages. His mother's
will had asked
Pope Innocent III to undertake the guardianship of her
son. The pope gladly accepted the role, as it allowed him to detach
Sicily from the rest of The Holy
Roman Empire , thus ending the
spectre of the
Papal States being surrounded. Frederick was four when,
Palermo , he was crowned
King of Sicily in 1198. Frederick received
no systematic education and was allowed to run free in the streets of
Palermo . There he picked up the many languages he heard spoken, such
Arabic and Greek, and learned some of the lore of the Jewish
community. At age twelve, he dismissed Innocent's deputy regent and
took over the government; at fifteen he married
Constance of Aragon ,
and began his reclamation of the imperial crown. Subsequently, due to
Muslim rebellions, Frederick II destroyed the
Arab presence in Sicily,
moving all the Muslims of
Sicily to the city of Lucera in Apulia
between 1221 and 1226.
Conflict between the
Hohenstaufen house and the
Papacy led, in 1266,
Pope Innocent IV crowning the French prince Charles , count of
Anjou and Provence , as the king of both
Sicily and Naples.
SICILY UNDER SPANISH RULE
Depiction of the
Strong opposition to French officialdom due to mistreatment and
taxation saw the local peoples of
Sicily rise up, leading in 1282 to
an insurrection known as the War of the
Sicilian Vespers , which
eventually saw almost the entire French population on the island
killed. During the war, the Sicilians turned to
Peter III of Aragon ,
son-in-law of the last
Hohenstaufen king, for support after being
rejected by the Pope. Peter gained control of
Sicily from the French,
who, however, retained control of the
Kingdom of Naples . A crusade
was launched in August 1283 against Peter III and the Aragon Kingdom
Pope Martin IV
Pope Martin IV (a pope from
Île-de-France ), but it failed. The
wars continued until the peace of Caltabellotta in 1302, which saw
Peter's son Frederick III recognised as king of the Isle of Sicily,
while Charles II was recognised as the king of
Naples by Pope Boniface
Sicily was ruled as an independent kingdom by relatives of the
kings of Aragon until 1409 and then as part of the
Crown of Aragon .
In October 1347, in Messina, Sicily, the
Black Death first arrived in
Sicilian Baroque in
The onset of the
Spanish Inquisition in 1492 led to Ferdinand II
decreeing the expulsion of all Jews from Sicily. The eastern part of
the island was hit by very destructive earthquakes in 1542 and 1693.
Just a few years before the latter earthquake, the island was struck
by a ferocious plague . The earthquake in 1693 took an estimated
60,000 lives. There were revolts during the 17th century, but these
were quelled with significant force, especially the revolts of Palermo
and Messina. North African slave raids discouraged settlement along
the coast until the 19th century. The
Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 saw
Sicily assigned to the
House of Savoy ; however, this period of rule
lasted only seven years, as it was exchanged for the island of
Sardinia with Emperor Charles VI of the Austrian Habsburg Dynasty .
While the Austrians were concerned with the War of the Polish
Succession , a Bourbon prince, Charles from
Spain was able to conquer
Sicily and Naples. At first
Sicily was able to remain as an
independent kingdom under personal union , while the
over both from Naples. However, the advent of Napoleon 's First French
Naples taken at the
Battle of Campo Tenese and Bonapartist
Naples were installed. Ferdinand III the Bourbon was forced to
Sicily which he was still in complete control of with the
help of British naval protection.
Sicily joined the
Napoleonic Wars , and subsequently
the British under
Lord William Bentinck established a military and
diplomatic presence on the island to protect against a French
invasion. After the wars were won
Naples formally merged as
Two Sicilies under the Bourbons. Major revolutionary movements
occurred in 1820 and 1848 against the Bourbon government with Sicily
seeking independence; the second of which, the 1848 revolution
resulted in a short period of independence for Sicily. However, in
Bourbons retook the control of the island and dominated it
Risorgimento The beginning of the Expedition of the
Thousand , 1860.
Expedition of the Thousand
Expedition of the Thousand led by
Giuseppe Garibaldi captured
Sicily in 1860, as part of the _
Risorgimento _. The conquest started
Marsala , and native Sicilians joined him in the capture of the
southern Italian peninsula. Garibaldi's march was completed with the
Siege of Gaeta , where the final
Bourbons were expelled and Garibaldi
announced his dictatorship in the name of Victor Emmanuel II of
Sicily became part of the Kingdom of Sardinia
after a referendum where more than 75% of
Sicily voted in favour of
the annexation on 21 October 1860 (but not everyone was allowed to
vote). As a result of the Kingdom of
part of the kingdom on 17 March 1861.
The Sicilian economy (and the wider _mezzogiorno _ economy) remained
relatively underdeveloped after the
Italian Unification , in spite of
the strong investments made by the Kingdom of
Italy in terms of modern
infrastructure, and this caused an unprecedented wave of emigration .
In 1894, organisations of workers and peasants known as the _Fasci
Siciliani _ protested against the bad social and economic conditions
of the island, but they were suppressed in a few days. The Messina
earthquake of 28 December 1908 killed more than 80,000 people. This
period was also characterised by the first contact between the
Sicilian mafia (the crime syndicate also known as Cosa Nostra) and the
Italian government. The Mafia's origins are still uncertain, but it is
generally accepted that it emerged in the 18th century initially in
the role of private enforcers hired to protect the property of
landowners and merchants from the groups of bandits (_briganti_) who
frequently pillaged the countryside and towns. The battle against the
Mafia made by the Kingdom of
Italy was controversial and ambiguous.
Carabinieri (the military police of Italy) and sometimes the
Italian army were often involved in terrible fights against the mafia
members, but their efforts were frequently useless because of the
secret co-operation between mafia and local government and also
because of the weakness of the Italian judicial system.
20TH AND 21ST CENTURIES
Private Roy W. Humphrey of
Toledo, Ohio is being given blood
plasma after he was wounded by shrapnel in
Sicily on 9 August 1943.
In the 1920s, the Fascist regime began a stronger military action
against the Mafia, which was led by prefect
Cesare Mori who was known
as the "Iron Prefect" because of his iron-fisted campaigns. This was
the first time in which an operation against the
Sicilian mafia ended
with considerable success. There was an allied invasion of Sicily
World War II
World War II starting on 10 July 1943. In preparation for the
invasion, the Allies revitalized the Mafia to aid them. The invasion
Sicily contributed to the 25 July crisis ; in general, the Allied
victors were warmly embraced by Sicily.
Italy became a Republic in 1946 and, as part of the Constitution of
Sicily was one of the five regions given special status as an
autonomous region . Both the partial Italian land reform and special
funding from the Italian government's _Cassa per il
(Fund for the South) from 1950 to 1984 helped the Sicilian economy.
During this period, the economic and social condition of the island
was generally improved thanks to important investments on
infrastructures such as motorways and airports , and thanks to the
creation of important industrial and commercial areas. In the 1980s,
the Mafia was deeply weakened by a second important campaign led by
Giovanni Falcone and
Paolo Borsellino . Between 1990 and
2005, the unemployment rate fell from about 23% to 11%.
Source: ISTAT 2010
The city of
Palermo in 2005
Sicily is a melting pot of a variety of different cultures and
ethnicities, including the original
Italic people , the
Romans , Byzantines ,
Swabians , Aragonese ,
Spaniards , French, and
Albanians , each contributing to
the island's culture and genetic makeup. About five million people
live in Sicily, making it the fourth most populated region in
In the first century after the
Italian Unification ,
Sicily had one of
the most negative net migration rates among the regions of Italy
because of the emigration of millions of people to other European
countries, North America, South America and Australia. Like the South
Italy and Sardinia, immigration to the island is very low compared
to other regions of
Italy because workers tend to head to Northern
Italy instead, due to better employment and industrial opportunities.
The most recent ISTAT figures show around 175 thousand immigrants out
of the total of almost 5,1 million population (nearly 3,5 percent of
Romanians with more than 50 thousand make up the most
immigrants, followed by
Moroccans , Sri Lankans ,
Albanians , and others mostly from Eastern Europe. As in the rest of
Italy, the official language is Italian and the primary religion is
Roman Catholicism .
In Sicily, there are only three _metropolitan areas _:
Palermo that has a
Larger Urban Zone of 1,044,169 people
Catania whose LUZ is of 801,280 people
Messina with a LUZ of 418,916 people.
Overall, there are fifteen cities and towns which have a population
above 50,000 people, these are:
* Syracuse (123,248)
* Ragusa (73,756)
* Vittoria (63,393)
Mazara del Vallo (51,413).
Y-Dna haplogroups were found at the following frequencies in Sicily:
R1 (36.76%), J (29.65%), E1b1b (18.21%), I (7.62%), G (5.93%), T
(5.51%), Q (2.54%). R1 and I haplogroups are typical in West European
populations while J and E1b1b consist of lineages with differential
distribution within Middle East,
North Africa and Europe. Normans,
Swabians, and other
Germanic peoples left a contribution of around 8%
on the paternal side (Haplogroup I). A recent genetic study of
Southern Italian and Sicilian populations has shown that Sicilians are
very similar in genetic makeup to mainlander
Italians from the
adjacent regions of Calabria,
Basilicata and Apulia. Outside of
Italy, according to one study,
Laconia , and
Peloponese are genetically closest to Sicilians. According to another
study, Sicilians were closest to other southern
Italians and Greeks
Crete and the
Aegean islands , but distinct from all mainland
FREQUENCIES (IN %) OF Y-CHROMOSOME (N=236) AND MTDNA (N=313)
Sicily there are two historical ethno-linguistic minorities, the
Sicily and the Arbëreshë .
* LOMBARDS OF SICILY are a linguistic minority living in
Sicily who speak an isolated variety of Gallo-Italic
dialects, the so-called
Gallo-Italic of Sicily . The
Sicily, who came from Northern Italy, settled the central and eastern
Sicily about 900 years ago, during the Norman conquest of
Sicily . Because of linguistic differences among the Gallo-Italic
dialects of Sicily, it is supposed that there were independent
immigration routes. From
Piedmont , Liguria, Emilia ,
began to spread south between the 11th and 14th centuries.
Piazza Armerina , Nicosia ,
San Fratello ,
Novara di Sicilia are the
most important communities.
* ARBëRESHë settled in Southern
Italy in the 15th to 18th
centuries in several waves of migrations. They are the Albanian
Catholics who fled to
Italy after Albania was conquered by the Ottoman
Turks . There are three Arbëreshë communities identified within the
Palermo , which have maintained unchanged, with different
aspects together, the ethnic, linguistic and religious origins. The
Contessa Entellina ,
Piana degli Albanesi and Santa
Gela . The largest centre is
Piana degli Albanesi , which,
besides being the hub religious and socio-cultural communities, has
guarded and defended their peculiarities intact over time. There are
two other communities with a strong historical and linguistic
Politics of Sicily
The politics of
Sicily takes place in a framework of a presidential
representative democracy , whereby the President of Regional
Government is the head of government , and of a pluriform multi-party
Executive power is exercised by the Regional Government.
Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Sicilian
Regional Assembly. The capital of
Sicily gives centre-right results during election.
From 1943 to 1951 there was also a separatist political party called
Sicilian Independence Movement (_Movimento Indipendentista Siciliano_,
MIS). Its best electoral result was in the 1946 general election ,
when MIS obtained 0.7% of national votes (8.8% of votes in Sicily),
and four seats. However, the movement lost all its seats following the
1948 general election and the 1951 regional election. Even though it
has never been formally disbanded, today the movement is no longer
part of the politics of
Sicily . After
World War II
World War II
Sicily became a
stronghold of the Christian Democracy , in opposition to the Italian
Communist Party . The Communists and their successors (the Democratic
Party of the Left , the
Democrats of the Left and the present-day
Democratic Party ) had never won in the region until 2012 .
now governed by a centre-left coalition between Democratic Party and
Union of Christian and Centre Democrats . Rosario
Crocetta is the current President since 2012.
Sicily is divided into nine provinces, each with a
capital city of the same name as the province. Small surrounding
islands are also part of various Sicilian provinces: the Aeolian
Islands (Messina), isle of
Ustica (Palermo), Aegadian Islands
(Trapani), isle of
Pantelleria (Trapani) and Pelagian Islands
Province of Ragusa
Province of Siracusa
See also: Economy of
Thanks to the regular growth of the last years,
Sicily is the eighth
richest region of
Italy in terms of total GDP (see List of Italian
regions by GDP ). A series of reforms and investments on agriculture
such as the introduction of modern irrigation systems have made this
important industry competitive. In the 1970s there was a growth of
the industrial sector through the creation of some factories. In
recent years the importance of the service industry has grown for the
opening of several shopping malls and for a modest growth of financial
and telecommunication activities. Tourism is an important source of
wealth for the island thanks to its natural and historical heritage.
Sicily is investing a large amount of money on structures of the
hospitality industry , in order to make tourism more competitive.
Sicily continues to have a GDP per capita below the Italian
average and more unemployment than the rest of Italy. This difference
is mostly caused by the negative influence of the Mafia that is still
active in some areas although it is much weaker than in the past.
A sample of
Marsala , a DOC wine produced in the city of Marsala
Sicily has long been noted for its fertile soil due to the volcanic
eruptions in the past and present. The local agriculture is also
helped by the pleasant climate of the island. The main agricultural
products are wheat, citrons , oranges _(Arancia Rossa di Sicilia IGP
)_, lemons, tomatoes _(
Pomodoro di Pachino IGP )_, olives , olive oil
, artichokes ,
Opuntia ficus-indica _(Fico d'India dell'Etna DOP)_,
almonds , grapes , pistachios _(Pistacchio di Bronte DOP)_ and wine.
Cattle and sheep are raised. The cheese productions are particularly
important thanks to the Ragusano DOP and the
Pecorino Siciliano DOP .
Ragusa is noted for its honey (_Miele Ibleo_) and chocolate
Modica IGP_) productions.
Sicily is the third largest wine producer in
Italy (the world's
largest wine producer) after
Emilia Romagna . The region
is known mainly for fortified
Marsala wines . In recent decades the
wine industry has improved, new winemakers are experimenting with
less-known native varietals, and Sicilian wines have become better
known. The best known local varietal is Nero d\'
Avola , named for a
small town not far from Syracuse ; the best wines made with these
grapes come from
Noto , a famous old city close to Avola. Other
important native varietals are
Nerello Mascalese used to make the Etna
Rosso DOC wine ,
Frappato that is a component of the Cerasuolo di
Vittoria DOCG wine , Moscato di
Pantelleria (also known as _Zibibbo_)
used to make different
Pantelleria wines, Malvasia di
Lipari used for
the Malvasia di
Lipari DOC wine and
Catarratto mostly used to make the
Alcamo DOC . Furthermore, in
Sicily high quality wines are
also produced using non-native varietals like
Sicily is also known for its liqueurs, such as the Amaro Averna
Caltanissetta and the local limoncello .
Fishing is another fundamental resource for Sicily. There are
important tuna , sardine , swordfish and
European anchovy fisheries.
Mazzara del Vallo is the largest fishing centre in
Sicily and one of
the most important in Italy.
INDUSTRY AND MANUFACTURING
Palermo shipyards Oilfields near Ragusa .
Improvements in Sicily's road system have helped to promote
industrial development. The region has three important industrial
Catania Industrial District_, where there are several food
industries and one of the best European electronics industry centres
called _Etna Valley_ (in honour of the best known
Silicon Valley )
which contains offices and factories of international companies such
* _Syracuse Petrochemical District_ with chemical industries , oil
refineries and important power stations (as the innovative Archimede
combined cycle power plant );
* the latest _
Enna Industrial District_ in which there are food
Palermo there are important shipyards (such as
mechanical factories of famous Italian companies as
Ansaldo Breda ,
publishing and textile industries. Chemical industries are also in the
Milazzo ) and in the Province of Caltanissetta
Gela ). There are petroleum, natural gas and asphalt fields in the
Southeast (mostly near Ragusa ) and massive deposits of halite in
Central Sicily. The Province of
Trapani is one of the largest sea
salt producers in Italy.
A table showing Sicily's different GDP (nominal and per capita)
growth between 2000 and 2008:
GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT
(Millions of Euros) 67,204
GDP (PPP) PER CAPITA
After the table which shows Sicily's GDP growth, this table shows
the sectors of the Sicilian economy in 2006:
GDP (MIL. €)
(region) % sector
Agriculture, farming, fishing
Commerce, hotels and restaurants, transport, services and
Financial activity and real estate
OTHER ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES
VAT and other forms of taxes
GDP OF SICILY
The A20 Messina-
Palermo motorway near
Messina Tramway System
Highways have recently been built and expanded in the last four
decades. The most prominent Sicilian roads are the motorways (known as
_autostrada_) running through the northern section of the island. Much
of the motorway network is elevated by columns due to the mountainous
terrain of the island. Other main roads in
Sicily are the _Strade
Statali_ like the SS.113 that connects
Palermo), the SS.114 Messina-Syracuse (via Catania) and the SS.115
Trapani (via Ragusa ,
76 km (47 mi)
RA15 Catania\'s Bypass (West)
24 km (15 mi)
25 km (16 mi)
40 km (25 mi)
199 km (124 mi)
181 km (112 mi)
Mazara del Vallo
119 km (74 mi)
38 and 44 km (24 and 27 mi)
Two trains inside
Punta Raisi railway station within Palermo
International Airport .
Palermo , AMAT Tramway System Map
The first railway in
Sicily was opened in 1863 (Palermo-Bagheria) and
today all of the Sicilian provinces are served by a network of railway
services, linking to most major cities and towns; this service is
Trenitalia . Of the 1,378 km (856 mi) of railway tracks in
use, over 60% has been electrified whilst the remaining 583 km (362
mi) are serviced by diesel engines. 88% of the lines (1.209 km) are
single-track and only 169 km (105 mi) are double-track serving the two
main routes, Messina-
Palermo (Tyrrhenian ) and
Messina-Catania-Syracuse (Ionian ). Of the narrow gauge railways the
Ferrovia Circumetnea is the only one that still operates, going round
Mount Etna . From the major cities of Sicily, there are services to
Naples and Rome; this is achieved by the trains being loaded onto
ferries which cross to the mainland.
Catania there is an underground railway service (metropolitana di
Catania ); in
Palermo the national railway operator Trenitalia
operates a commuter rail (
Palermo metropolitan railway service ), the
Sicilian Capital is also served by 4 AMAT (Comunal Public Transport
Messina is served by a tramline .
Catania International Airport Main article: List of airports
Sicily has several airports which serve numerous Italian and
European destinations and some extra-European;
Catania-Fontanarossa Airport , located on the east-coast is the
busiest on the island (and one of the busiest in all of Italy).
Palermo International Airport , which is also a substantially
large airport with many national and international flights.
Trapani-Birgi Airport , a military-civil joint use airport (third
for traffic on the island). Recently the airport has seen an increase
of traffic thanks to a low-cost carrier .
* Comiso-Ragusa Airport , has recently been refurbished and
re-converted from military use to civil airport. It was opened to
commercial traffic and general aviation 30 May 2013.
Palermo-Boccadifalco Airport is the old airport of
Palermo and is
currently used for general aviation and as a base for the Guardia di
Finanza and Police helicopters .
* NAS Sigonella Airport , it is an Italian Air Force and US Navy
Pantelleria Airport .
The port of
Sicily is served by several ferry routes and cargo ports, and
in all major cities, cruise ships dock on a regular basis.
* Mainland Italy: Ports connecting to the mainland are Messina
Villa San Giovanni and
Salerno ), the busiest passenger port
Palermo (routes to
Naples ) and
Catania (route to
Naples ) .
* Sicily's small surrounding islands: The port of
Milazzo serves the
Aeolian Islands , the ports of
Marsala the Aegadian
Islands and the port of
Porto Empedocle the
Pelagie Islands . From
Palermo there is a service to the island of
Ustica and to
* International connections: From
Trapani there are
weekly services to
Tunisia and there is also a daily service between
* Commercial/Cargo Ports: The port of Augusta is the 5th largest
cargo port in
Italy which handles tonnes of goods. Other major cargo
ports are Palermo, Catania, Trapani,
Termini Imerese .
* TOURISTIC PORTS: Several "Touristic ports" along the Sicilian
coast are in the service of private boats that need to moor on the
island. The main ports for this traffic are in
Marina di Ragusa ,
Riposto , Portorosa , Syracuse ,
Sciacca . In Sicily,
Palermo is also a major centre for the BOAT RENTAL L with or without
crew in the Mediterranean. Is the home of some of the charter
companies such as Velasud Yachting Italy, with the nautical base in
Palermo Marina Arenella Yachting Club with a fleet of 10 yachts
including sailboats and catamarans up to 52 feet. In Palermo, and in
general in Sicily, there are a number of boat rental companies, many
of these do not have the ownership. Most of them are just simply
brokers. Other companies well known in
Palermo and Portorosa (Messina)
are Best Charter and Jonio Yachting.
* Fishing ports: As all islands,
Sicily also has many fishing ports.
The most important is in
Mazara del Vallo followed by Castellamare del
Portopalo di Capo Passero .
Strait of Messina Bridge
Plans for a bridge linking
Sicily to the mainland have been discussed
since 1865. Throughout the last decade, plans were developed for a
road and rail link to the mainland via what would be the world's
longest suspension bridge , the
Strait of Messina Bridge . Planning
for the project has experienced several false starts over the past few
years. On 6 March 2009,
Silvio Berlusconi 's government declared that
the construction works for the
Messina Bridge will begin on 23
December 2009, and announced a pledge of €1.3 billion as a
contribution to the bridge's total cost, estimated at €6.1 billion.
The plan has been criticised by environmental associations and some
local Sicilians and Calabrians, concerned with its environmental
impact, economical sustainability and even possible infiltrations by
Sicily's sunny, dry climate, scenery, cuisine, history and
architecture attract many tourists from mainland
Italy and abroad. The
tourist season peaks in the summer months, although people visit the
island all year round.
Mount Etna , the beaches, the archaeological
sites, and major cities such as
Catania , Syracuse and
Ragusa are the favourite tourist destinations, but the old town of
Taormina and the neighbouring seaside resort of
Giardini Naxos draw
visitors from all over the world, as do the
Aeolian Islands ,
Castellammare del Golfo ,
Agrigento , the Pelagie Islands
and Capo d\'Orlando . The last features some of the best-preserved
temples of the ancient Greek period. Many Mediterranean cruise ships
stop in Sicily, and many wine tourists also visit the island.
Some scenes of famous Hollywood and
Cinecittà films were shot in
Sicily. This increased the attraction of
Sicily as a tourist
UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES
One of the mosaics in
Villa Romana del Casale
There are seven
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
UNESCO World Heritage Sites on Sicily. By the order
* VALLE DEI TEMPLI (1997) is one of the most outstanding examples of
Greece art and architecture, and is one of the main
Sicily as well as a national monument of Italy. The
site is located in
* VILLA ROMANA DEL CASALE (1997) is a
Roman villa built in the first
quarter of the 4th century and located about 3 km (2 mi) outside the
Piazza Armerina . It contains the richest, largest and most
complex collection of Roman mosaics in the world.
* AEOLIAN ISLANDS (2000) are a volcanic archipelago in the
Tyrrhenian Sea , named after the demigod of the winds
Aeolus . The
Aeolian Islands are a popular tourist destination in the summer, and
attract up to 200,000 visitors annually.
* LATE BAROQUE TOWNS OF THE VAL DI NOTO (2002) "represent the
culmination and final flowering of
Baroque art in Europe". It
includes several towns:
Caltagirone , Militello in Val di
Palazzolo Acreide , Ragusa and
Cathedral of San Giorgio in
* NECROPOLIS OF PANTALICA (2005) is a large necropolis in Sicily
with over 5,000 tombs dating from the 13th to the 7th centuries BC.
Syracuse is notable for its rich Greek history, culture, amphitheatres
and architecture. They are situated in south-eastern Sicily.
* MOUNT ETNA (2013) is one of the most active volcanoes in the world
and is in an almost constant state of activity and generated myths,
legends and naturalistic observation from Greek, Celts and Roman
classic and medieval times.
* ARAB-NORMAN PALERMO AND THE CATHEDRAL CHURCHES OF CEFALù AND
MONREALE ; includes a series of nine civil and religious structures
dating from the era of the Norman kingdom of
Taormina 's central square at sunset.
Taormina and Isola Bella ;
Motya and Libeo Island : The Phoenician-Punic Civilisation in
Scala dei Turchi ;
Strait of Messina .
Because many different cultures settled, dominated or invaded the
Sicily has a huge variety of archaeological sites . Also, some
of the most notable and best preserved temples and other structures of
the Greek world are located in Sicily.. Here is a short list of the
major archaeological sites:
Segesta , Eryx , Cava
* Greeks: Syracuse ,
Megara Hyblaea , Naxos ,
Heraclea Minoa ,
Piazza Armerina ,
Mazara del Vallo .
The excavation and restoration of one of Sicily's best known
archaeological sites, the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, was at
the direction of the archaeologist Domenico Antonio Lo Faso
Pietrasanta , Fifth Duke of
Serradifalco , known in archaeological
circles simply as _"Serradifalco"_. He also oversaw the restoration of
ancient sites at
Selinunte , Siracusa and
Sicily there are hundreds of castles, the most relevant are:
Castello Ursino in
Catania Zisa Castle in
(Castle of the Counts of
Modica (Alcamo) in
Alcamo . Castello
di Donnafugata near Ragusa
Castelluccio di Gela
Castello di Aci
Forte dei Centri
Castello di Milazzo
Castello di Sant'Alessio Siculo
Castello di Pentefur
Castello di Schisò
Castello di Caccamo
Castello di Carini
Castello dei Ventimiglia
Castello di Donnafugata
Castello Dei Conti
Castello di Venere
Castle of the Counts of
Castle of Calatubo
The Coastal towers in
Sicily (_Torri costiere della Sicilia_) are 218
old watchtowers along all the coast of the isle. In Sicily, the first
coastal towers date back to the period between 1313 and 1345 of the
Aragonese monarchy. From 1360 the threat came from the south, from
North Africa to
Maghreb , mainly to
Barbary pirates and corsairs of
Barbary Coast . In 1516, the Turks settled in
Algiers , and from 1520,
Hayreddin Barbarossa under the command of
Ottoman Empire ,
operated from that harbour.
Most of the existing towers were built on architectural designs of
the Florentine architect
Camillo Camilliani from to
1584 , and
involved the coastal periple of Sicily. The typology changed
completely in '800, because of the new higher fire volumes of cannon
vessels, the towers were built on the type of
Martello towers that the
British built in the UK and elsewhere in the British Empire. In 1805
the U.S. Marines and Navy, in the
Battle of Derne , near Tripoli.
destroy all of the Barbary pirates, and to put an end to piracy acts.
Torre di (
Altavilla Milicia )
Torre Spalmatore (
Torre Pozzillo (
Ligny Tower - (
Torre Nubia (
Torre Cabrera (Marina di Ragusa) (
Marina di Ragusa )
Torre Cabrera (Pozzallo) (
Vignazza Tower (
Giardini Naxos )
_To have seen
Italy without having seen
Sicily is to not have seen
Italy at all, for
Sicily is the clue to everything._ — Goethe
_ Virgin Annunciate_ , Antonello da
Sicily has long been associated with the arts ; many poets, writers,
philosophers , intellectuals, architects and painters have roots on
the island. The history of prestige in this field can be traced back
to Greek philosopher
Archimedes , a Syracuse native who has gone on to
become renowned as one of the greatest mathematicians of all time.
Empedocles are two other highly noted early Sicilian-Greek
philosophers, while the Syracusan Epicharmus is held to be the
inventor of comedy.
ART AND ARCHITECTURE
Majolica painting art of
Terracotta ceramics from the island are well known, the art of
Sicily goes back to the original ancient peoples named the
Sicanians , it was then perfected during the period of Greek
colonisation and is still prominent and distinct to this day.
Caltagirone is one of the most important centres in Sicily
for the artistic production of ceramics and terra-cotta sculptures.
Famous painters include
Renaissance artist Antonello da
Renato Guttuso and Greek born
Giorgio de Chirico who is commonly
dubbed the "father of
Surrealist art " and founder of the metaphysical
art movement. The most noted architects are
Filippo Juvarra (one of
the most important figures of the Italian
Baroque ) and Ernesto Basile
Syracuse Cathedral Main article:
Sicilian Baroque has a unique architectural identity.
Catania , Ragusa ,
Scicli and particularly
Acireale contain some of Italy's best examples of
, carved in the local red sandstone .
Noto provides one of the best
examples of the
Baroque architecture brought to Sicily.
Baroque style in
Sicily was largely confined to buildings erected
by the church, and palazzi built as private residences for the
Sicilian aristocracy. The earliest examples of this style in Sicily
lacked individuality and were typically heavy-handed pastiches of
buildings seen by Sicilian visitors to Rome,
Florence , and
However, even at this early stage, provincial architects had begun to
incorporate certain vernacular features of Sicily's older
architecture. By the middle of the 18th century, when Sicily's Baroque
architecture was noticeably different from that of the mainland, it
typically included at least two or three of the following features,
coupled with a unique freedom of design that is more difficult to
characterise in words.
WORLD HERITAGE SITES
Square rock-cut tombs in
Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of
* Archaeological Area of
Baroque Towns of the
Val di Noto
* Syracuse and the Rocky
Necropolis of Pantalica
Villa Romana del Casale
MUSIC AND FILM
Teatro Massimo ,
Palermo See also:
Music of Sicily
Palermo hosts the
Teatro Massimo which is the largest opera house in
Italy and the third largest in all of Europe. In
Catania there is
another important opera house , the
Teatro Massimo Bellini with 1,200
seats, which is considered one of the best European opera houses for
its acoustics. Sicily's composers vary from
Vincenzo Bellini ,
Sigismondo d\'India ,
Giovanni Pacini and
Alessandro Scarlatti , to
contemporary composers such as
Salvatore Sciarrino and
Silvio Amato .
Many award-winning and acclaimed films of Italian cinema have been
filmed in Sicily, amongst the most noted of which are: Visconti 's
La Terra Trema "_ and _"
Il Gattopardo "_,
Pietro Germi 's _"Divorzio
all\'Italiana _" and _"Sedotta e Abbandonata _".
Italian Literature and
Sicilian School Luigi
The golden age of Sicilian poetry began in the early 13th century
Sicilian School of
Giacomo da Lentini , which was highly
Italian literature . Some of the most noted figures
among writers and poets are
Luigi Pirandello (Nobel laureate, 1934 ),
Salvatore Quasimodo (Nobel laureate, 1959 ),
Giovanni Verga (the
father of the _Italian Verismo _),
Domenico Tempio ,
Giovanni Meli ,
Luigi Capuana ,
Mario Rapisardi ,
Federico de Roberto , Leonardo
Vitaliano Brancati , Giuseppe Tomasi di
Lampedusa , Elio
Vincenzo Consolo and
Andrea Camilleri (noted for his
novels and short stories with the fictional character Inspector Salvo
Montalbano as protagonist). On the political side notable philosophers
Gaetano Mosca and
Giovanni Gentile who wrote _The Doctrine of
Fascism _. In terms of academic reflection, the historical and
aesthetic richness as well as the multi-layered heterogeneity of
Sicilian literature and culture have been first grasped
methodologically and coined with the term of transculturality by
German scholar of Italian Studies
Dagmar Reichardt who, after having
published an extensive study on the literary work of Giuseppe Bonaviri
, was awarded the International
Premio Flaiano ("Italianistica") for
a trilingual (English, Italian, German) collection about the European
liminality of Sicily, Sicilian literature and Sicilian Studies.
Sicily most people are bilingual and speak both Italian and
Sicilian , a distinct and historical Romance language . Some of the
Sicilian words are loan words from Greek , Catalan , French,
Spanish and other languages. Dialects related to Sicilian are also
Calabria and Salento ; it had a significant influence on the
Maltese language . However the use of Sicilian is limited to informal
contexts (mostly in family) and in a majority of cases it is replaced
by the so-called _regional Italian of Sicily_, an Italian dialect that
is a kind of mix between Italian and Sicilian.
Sicilian was an early influence in the development of the first
Italian standard, although its use remained confined to an
intellectual elite. This was a literary language in
under the auspices of Frederick II and his court of notaries, or
_Magna Curia_, which, headed by
Giacomo da Lentini , also gave birth
Sicilian School , widely inspired by troubadour literature. Its
linguistic and poetic heritage was later assimilated into the
Dante Alighieri , the father of modern Italian who, in
De vulgari eloquentia _, claims that "In effect this vernacular
seems to deserve a higher praise than the others, since all the poetry
Italians can be called Sicilian". It is in this language
that appeared the first sonnet , whose invention is attributed to
Giacomo da Lentini himself.
Catania has one of the four laboratories of the Istituto Nazionale di
Fisica Nucleare (National Institute for Nuclear Physics) in which
there is a cyclotron that uses protons both for nuclear physics
experiments and for particle therapy to treat cancer (proton therapy
Noto has one of the largest radio telescopes in
performs geodetic and astronomical observations. There are
Catania , managed by the Istituto
Nazionale di Astrofisica (National Institute for Astrophysics). In the
_Observatory of Palermo_ the astronomer
Giuseppe Piazzi discovered the
first and the largest asteroid to be identified Ceres (today
considered a dwarf planet ) on 1 January 1801;
Catania has two
observatories, one of which is situated on
Mount Etna at 1,800 metres
(5,900 feet ).
Syracuse is also an experimental centre for the solar technologies
through the creation of the project
Archimede solar power plant that
is the first concentrated solar power plant to use molten salt for
heat transfer and storage which is integrated with a combined-cycle
gas facility. All the plant is owned and operated by
Enel . The
touristic town of
Erice is also an important science place thanks to
Ettore Majorana Foundation and Centre for Scientific Culture which
embraces 123 schools from all over the world, covering all branches of
science, offering courses, seminars, workshops and annual meetings. It
was founded by the physicist
Antonino Zichichi in honour of another
scientist of the island,
Ettore Majorana known for the Majorana
equation and Majorana fermions . Sicily's famous scientists include
Stanislao Cannizzaro (chemist),
Giovanni Battista Hodierna and
Niccolò Cacciatore (astronomers). Department of Engineering,
Sicily has four universities:
* The University of
Catania dates back to 1434 and it is the oldest
university in Sicily. Nowadays it hosts 12 faculties and over 62,000
students and it offers undergraduate and postgraduate programs.
Catania hosts also the _Scuola Superiore _, an academic institution
linked to the University of Catania, aiming for excellence in
* The University of
Palermo is the island's second oldest
university. It was officially founded in 1806, although historical
records indicate that medicine and law have been taught there since
the late 15th century. The Orto botanico di
gardens) is home to the university's Department of Botany and is also
open to visitors.
* The University of
Messina , founded in 1548 by Ignatius of Loyola
. It is organised in 11 Faculties.
* The Kore University of
Enna founded in 1995, it is the latest
Sicilian university and the first university founded in
Italian Unification .
Noto Cathedral See also:
Italo-Albanian Catholic Church See
History of the Jews in Sicily See also: History of
As in most Italian regions, Christian
Roman Catholicism is the most
predominant religious denomination in Sicily, and the church still
plays an important role in the lives of most people. Before the
invasion of the Normans,
Sicily was predominantly
Eastern Orthodox ,
of which few adherents still remain today. There is also a notable
small minority of Eastern-rite
Byzantine Catholics which has a mixed
congregation of ethnic
Albanians ; it is operated by the
Italo-Albanian Catholic Church . Most people still attend church
weekly or at least for religious festivals, and many people get
married in churches. There was a wide presence of Jews in
at least 1,400 years and possibly for more than 2,000 years. Some
scholars believe that the Sicilian Jewry are partial ancestors of the
Ashkenazi Jews . However, much of the Jewish community faded away
when they were expelled from the island in 1492.
Islam was present
Emirate of Sicily , although Muslims were also expelled.
Today, mostly due to immigration to the island, there are also several
religious minorities, such as Jehovah's Witnesses, Islam, Judaism, and
Sikhism . There are also a fair number of Evangelical Church members
and practitioners who reside on the island.
Sicilian cuisine and
Cannoli , a
highly popular pastry associated with
The island has a long history of producing a variety of noted
cuisines and wines, to the extent that
Sicily is sometimes nicknamed
_God's Kitchen_ because of this. Every part of
Sicily has its
speciality (for example
Cassata is typical of Palermo, even if
available everywhere in Sicily, as is Granita, a
The ingredients are typically rich in taste while remaining affordable
to the general public The savoury dishes of
Sicily are viewed to be
healthy , using fresh vegetables and fruits, such as tomatoes,
artichokes , olives (including olive oil ), citrus , apricots ,
aubergines , onions, beans , raisins commonly coupled with seafood,
freshly caught from the surrounding coastlines, including tuna , sea
bream , sea bass , cuttlefish , swordfish , sardines , and others.
Arancini , rice balls fried in breadcrumbs
Perhaps the most well-known part of
Sicilian cuisine is the rich
sweet dishes including ice creams and pastries .
_cannolo_), a tube-shaped shell of fried pastry dough filled with a
sweet filling usually containing ricotta cheese , is in particular
strongly associated with
Sicily worldwide. Biancomangiare, biscotti
ennesi (cookies native to
Enna ), braccilatte (a Sicilian version of
doughnuts ), buccellato , ciarduna , pignoli , bruccellati , sesame
seed cookies , a sweet confection with sesame seeds and almonds
(torrone in Italy) is cubbaita , frutta martorana , cassata ,
pignolata , granita , cuccidati (a variety of fig cookie; also known
as buccellati) and cuccìa are amongst some of the most notable sweet
Like the cuisine of the rest of southern Italy, pasta plays an
important part in Sicilian cuisine, as does rice; for example with
arancini . As well as using some other cheeses,
Sicily has spawned
some of its own, using both cow's and sheep's milk, such as pecorino
and caciocavallo . Spices used include saffron , nutmeg , clove ,
pepper , and cinnamon , which were introduced by the Arabs.
used abundantly in many dishes. Although
Sicilian cuisine is commonly
associated with sea food, meat dishes, including goose , lamb , goat,
rabbit, and turkey , are also found in Sicily. It was the
Swabians who first introduced a fondness for meat dishes to the
island. Some varieties of wine are produced from vines that are
relatively unique to the island, such as the Nero d\'
Avola made near
the baroque of town of
Giuseppe Gibilisco , pole vaulter from Syracuse , 2003 World
Champion and bronze Olympic medalist
The most popular sport on
Sicily is football , which came to the fore
in the late 19th century under the influence of the English. Some of
the oldest football clubs in all of
Italy are from Sicily: the three
most successful are
Messina , and
Catania , who have all, at
some point, played in the
Serie A . To date no club from
ever won Serie A, but football is still deeply embedded in local
culture and all over
Sicily most towns have a representative team.
Catania have a heated rivalry and compete in the Sicilian
derby together: to date,
Palermo is the only football team in Sicily
to have played on the European stage, in the
UEFA Cup . In the island,
the most noted footballer is
Salvatore Schillaci , who won the Golden
Boot at the
1990 FIFA World Cup with
Italy . Other noted players
Giuseppe Furino ,
Pietro Anastasi ,
Francesco Coco , Christian
Riganò , and
Roberto Galia . There have also been some noted
managers from the island, such as
Carmelo Di Bella and Franco Scoglio
Although football is by far the most popular sport in Sicily, the
island also has participants in other fields. Amatori
competed in the top Italian national rugby union league called
National Championship of Excellence . They have even participated at
European level in the
European Challenge Cup . Competing in the
basketball variation of
Serie A is
Orlandina Basket from Capo
d\'Orlando in the province of
Messina , where the sport has a
reasonable following. Various other sports that are played to some
extent include volleyball, handball , and water polo . Previously, in
Sicily held the prominent
Targa Florio sports car race
that took place in the
Madonie Mountains, with the start-finish line
Cerda . The event was started in 1906 by Sicilian industrialist
and automobile enthusiast
Vincenzo Florio , and ran until it was
cancelled due to safety concerns in 1977.
From 28 September to 9 October 2005
Trapani was the location of Acts
8 and 9 of the
Louis Vuitton Cup . This sailing race featured, among
other entrants, all the boats that took part in the 2007 America\'s
_ Sicilian arrotino_ at a living nativity scene wearing
traditional Sicilian clothing Religious festival in
A carnival float in
Each town and city has its own patron saint, and the feast days are
marked by colourful processions through the streets with marching
bands and displays of fireworks.
Sicilian religious festivals also include the _presepe vivente_
(living nativity scene ), which takes place at Christmas time. Deftly
combining religion and folklore, it is a constructed mock 19th century
Sicilian village, complete with a nativity scene, and has people of
all ages dressed in the costumes of the period, some impersonating the
Holy Family, and others working as artisans of their particular
assigned trade. It is normally concluded on Epiphany , often
highlighted by the arrival of the magi on horseback.
Oral tradition plays a large role in Sicilian folklore. Many stories
passed down from generation to generation involve a character named
Giufà ". Anecdotes from this character's life preserve Sicilian
culture as well as convey moral messages.
Sicilians also enjoy outdoor festivals, held in the local square or
_piazza_ where live music and dancing are performed on stage, and food
fairs or _sagre_ are set up in booths lining the square. These offer
various local specialties, as well as typical Sicilian food. Normally
these events are concluded with fireworks. A noted _sagra_ is the
_Sagra del Carciofo_ or _
Artichoke Festival_, which is held annually
Ramacca in April. The most important traditional event in
the carnival . Famous carnivals are in
Termini Imerese . The
marionettes used in the
Opera dei Pupi
The OPERA DEI PUPI (Opera of the Puppets; Sicilian : Òpira dî pupi)
is a marionette theatrical representation of Frankish romantic poems
such as the
Song of Roland or _
Orlando furioso _ that is one of the
characteristic cultural traditions of Sicily. The sides of donkey
carts are decorated with intricate, painted scenes; these same tales
are enacted in traditional puppet theatres featuring hand-made
marionettes of wood. The opera of the puppets and the Sicilian
tradition of _cantastorî_ (singers of tales) are rooted in the
Provençal troubadour tradition in
Sicily during the reign of
Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor , in the first half of the 13th
century. A great place to see this marionette art is the puppet
Palermo . The Sicilian marionette theatre Opera dei Pupi
was proclaimed in 2001 and inscribed in 2008 in the UNESCO Intangible
Cultural Heritage Lists .
Today, there are only a few troupes that maintain the tradition. They
often perform for tourists. However, there are no longer the great
historical families of marionettists, such as the Greco of
the Canino of
Alcamo ; Crimi, Trombetta and Napoli of
Catania , Pennisi and Macri of
Acireale , Profeta of
Licata , Gargano
and Grasso of
Agrigento . One can, however, admire the richest
collection of marionettes at the Museo Internazionale delle Marionette
Antonio Pasqualino and at the Museo Etnografico Siciliano Giuseppe
Pitrè in Palermo. Other beautiful marionettes are on display at the
Museo Civico Vagliasindi in
There are several cultural icons and regional symbols in Sicily,
including flags, carts, sights and geographical features.
Triskelion painted on Ancient Greek vase,
Flag of Sicily , regarded as a regional icon, was first adopted
in 1282, after the
Sicilian Vespers of
Palermo . It is characterised
by the presence of the _trinacria_ (triskelion) in its middle, the
(winged) head of
Medusa and three wheat ears. The three bent legs are
supposed to represent the three points of the island
The colours, instead, respectively represent the cities of
Corleone , at those times an agricultural city of renown.
Corleone were the first two cities to found a confederation against
the Angevin rule. It finally became the official public flag of the
_Regione Siciliana_ in January 2000, after the passing of an apposite
regional law which advocates its use on public buildings, schools and
city halls along with the national Italian flag and the European one.
Familiar as an ancient symbol of the region, the
Triskelion is also
featured on Greek coins of Syracuse , such as coins of Agathocles
(317–289 BC).The symbol dates back to when
Sicily was part of Magna
Graecia , the colonial extension of
Greece beyond the Aegean . The
triskelion was revived, as a neoclassic – and non-Bourbon – emblem
for the new Napoleonic
Kingdom of the Two Sicilies , by Joachim Murat
Pliny the Elder attributes the origin of the triskelion of
Sicily to the triangular form of the island, the ancient _Trinacria_,
which consists of three large capes equidistant from each other,
pointing in their respective directions, the names of which were
Pelorus , Pachynus , and Lilybæum . The three legs of the triskelion
are also reminiscent of
Hephaestus 's three-legged tables that ran by
themselves, as mentioned in
Iliad xviii. A traditional Sicilian
Sicilian cart is an ornate, colourful style of horse or
donkey-drawn cart native to Sicily. Sicilian wood carver George
Petralia states that horses were mostly used in the city and flat
plains, while donkeys or mules were more often used in rough terrain
for hauling heavy loads. The cart has two wheels and is primarily
handmade out of wood with iron components.
The Sicilian coppola is a traditional kind of flat cap typically worn
by men in Sicily. First used by English nobles during the late 18th
century, the _tascu_ began being used in
Sicily in the early 20th
century as a driving cap , usually worn by car drivers. The _coppola_
is usually made in tweed . Today it is widely regarded as a definitive
symbol of Sicilian heritage.
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