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SICILY (/ˈsɪsᵻli/ _SISS-i-lee_ ; Italian : _Sicilia_ , Sicilian : _Sicìlia_) is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea . It is an autonomous region of Italy
Italy
, along with surrounding minor islands, officially referred to as _Regione Siciliana_ (in Italian , Sicilian Region).

Sicily
Sicily
is located in the central Mediterranean Sea, south of the Italian Peninsula , from which it is separated by the narrow Strait of Messina
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
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 of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
in the 5th century AD, Sicily
Sicily
was ruled during the Early Middle Ages by the Vandals
Vandals
, the Ostrogoths , the Byzantine Empire , and the Emirate of Sicily . The Norman conquest of southern Italy
Italy
led to the creation of the Kingdom of Sicily , which was subsequently ruled by the Hohenstaufen , the Capetian House of Anjou , Spain
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
Italy
in 1860 following the Expedition of the Thousand , a revolt led by Giuseppe Garibaldi
Giuseppe Garibaldi
during the Italian unification , and a plebiscite. Sicily
Sicily
was given special status as an autonomous region after the Italian constitutional referendum of 1946 .

Sicily
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 Selinunte
Selinunte
.

CONTENTS

* 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)

* 3.4 Arab
Arab
Period (827–1091) * 3.5 Norman Sicily
Sicily
(1038–1198) * 3.6 Kingdom of Sicily * 3.7 Hohenstaufen dynasty * 3.8 Sicily
Sicily
under Spanish rule * 3.9 Italian Unification

* 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 * 8.3 Airports * 8.4 Ports * 8.5 Planned bridge

* 9 Tourism

* 9.1 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

* 10.1.1 Sicilian Baroque

* 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

GEOGRAPHY

The island of Sicily
Sicily
Sicilian landscape

Sicily
Sicily
has a roughly triangular shape, earning it the name _Trinacria_. To the east, it is separated from the Italian mainland by the 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 Region of Sicily
Sicily
(which includes smaller surrounding islands) has an area of 27,708 km2 (10,698 sq mi). the Rocca Salvatesta over Fondachelli Fantina , Peloritani mountains

The terrain of inland Sicily
Sicily
is mostly hilly and is intensively cultivated wherever possible. Along the northern coast, the mountain ranges of Madonie , 2,000 m (6,600 ft), Nebrodi , 1,800 m (5,900 ft), and 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 Enna
Enna
and Caltanissetta districts were part of a leading sulphur -producing area throughout the 19th century, but have declined since the 1950s.

Sicily
Sicily
and its surrounding small islands have some highly active volcanoes. Mount Etna is the largest active volcano in Europe
Europe
and 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
Italy
south of the Alps
Alps
. 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
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
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 Catania
Catania

The Aeolian Islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea , to the northeast of mainland Sicily
Sicily
form a volcanic complex, and include Stromboli . The three volcanoes of Vulcano , Vulcanello and 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 the larger Empedocles volcano , last erupted in 1831. It is located between the coast of Agrigento
Agrigento
and the island of Pantelleria (which itself is a dormant volcano).

The autonomous region also includes several neighbouring islands: the Aegadian Islands , the Aeolian Islands, Pantelleria and Lampedusa .

RIVERS

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 Enna
Enna
and Caltanissetta before entering the Mediterranean Sea at the port of Licata . To the east, the Alcantara flows through the province of Messina
Messina
and enters the sea at Giardini Naxos
Giardini Naxos
, and the Simeto , which flows into the Ionian Sea south of Catania
Catania
. Other important rivers on the island are the Belice and Platani in the southwest.

RIVER LENGTH IN KM (MI)

Salso 144 km (89 mi)

Simeto 113 km (70 mi)

Belice
Belice
107 km (66 mi)

Dittaino 105 km (65 mi)

Platani 103 km (64 mi)

Gornalunga 81 km (50 mi)

Gela (river) 74 km (46 mi)

Salso Cimarosa 72 km (45 mi)

Torto 58 km (36 mi)

Irminio 57 km (35 mi)

Dirillo 54 km (34 mi)

Verdura 53 km (33 mi)

Alcantara 52 km (32 mi)

Tellaro 45 km (28 mi)

Anapo 40 km (25 mi)

*

Location of the Salso *

Simeto River *

The Simeto near Saraceni Bridge *

Alcantara River *

Alcantara Canyon

CLIMATE

Caltanissetta

Sicily
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
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, especially Nebrodi, 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 happen sometimes.

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
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 near Palermo
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
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
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 and Corsica.

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

Main article: History of Sicily

ANCIENT TRIBES

Dolmen
Dolmen
of Avola , east Sicily
Sicily
Megaliths of Argimusco , Montalbano Elicona

The original inhabitants of Sicily
Sicily
were three defined groups of the ancient peoples of Italy
Italy
. The most prominent and by far the earliest of these was the Sicani , who were said by Thucydides to have arrived from the Iberian Peninsula (perhaps Catalonia
Catalonia
). Important historical evidence has been discovered in the form of cave drawings by the Sicani, dated from the end of the Pleistocene
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 . The Elymians
Elymians
, thought to be from the Aegean Sea , were the next tribe to join the Sicanians on Sicily. Dolmen
Dolmen
of Monte Bubbonia , south Sicily
Sicily

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
Elymians
settled in the northwest corner of the island. The Sicels are thought to have originated in Liguria ; they arrived from mainland Italy
Italy
in 1200 BC and forced the Sicanians to move back across Sicily
Sicily
and settle in the middle of the island. Other minor Italic groups who settled in Sicily
Sicily
were the Ausones ( Aeolian Islands , Milazzo ) and the Morgetes of Morgantina . Studies of genetic records reveal that peoples from various parts of the Mediterranean Basin mixed with the ancient inhabitants of Sicily, including Egyptians and Iberians.

PHOENICIAN, CARTHAGINIAN, GREEK AND ROMAN PERIOD

Main articles: Magna Graecia , Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome
, and Sicilia (Roman province) Ruins of the ancient Phoenician city of Motya . Temple of Hera
Hera
at Selinunte
Selinunte
(Temple E) The Sicilian province in the Roman Empire.

The Phoenician settlements in the western part of the island predates the Greeks
Greeks
. From about 750 BC, the Greeks
Greeks
began to live in Sicily (Σικελία – _Sikelia_), establishing many important settlements. The most important colony was in Syracuse ; others were located at Akragas , Selinunte
Selinunte
, Gela , Himera and Zancle . The native 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
Italy
, which the Greeks
Greeks
had also colonised. Sicily
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 Agrigento
Agrigento
.

Politics on the island was intertwined with that of Greece; Syracuse became desired by the Athenians who set out on the Sicilian Expedition during the Peloponnesian War . Syracuse gained Sparta and Corinth as allies and, as a result, the Athenian
Athenian
expedition was defeated. The Athenian
Athenian
army and ships were destroyed, with most of the survivors being sold into slavery. Greco-Roman theatre at Taormina
Taormina
.

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
Greece
had begun to make peace with the Roman Republic in 262 BC, and the Romans sought to annex Sicily
Sicily
as their republic's first province. Rome intervened in the First Punic War , crushing Carthage, so that Sicily
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
Sicily
from the Roman Republic. They failed, and Rome was even more unrelenting in its annihilation of the invaders this time; Roman consul M. Valerian told the Roman Senate in 210 BC that "no Carthaginian remains in Sicily".

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
Augustus
to introduce the Latin language to the island, but Sicily
Sicily
was allowed to remain largely Greek in a cultural sense. The once prosperous and contented island went into sharp decline when Verres became governor of Sicily. In 70 BC, noted figure Cicero
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 in Sicily
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 Euplius . Christianity grew rapidly in Sicily
Sicily
over the next two centuries. The period of history during which Sicily
Sicily
was a Roman province lasted for around 700 years.

GERMANIC AND BYZANTINE PERIODS (467–965)

Main article: Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
Historic map of Sicily
Sicily
by Piri Reis

Germanic (467–535)

As the Western Roman Empire
Roman Empire
was falling apart, a Germanic tribe known as the Vandals
Vandals
briefly took Sicily
Sicily
in AD 467-8 under the rule of their king Geiseric but in 476 the island was returned to Odoacer , who was ruling Italy, 476-93, in the name of the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Emperor. The Vandals
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 Goths . The Ostrogothic conquest of Sicily
Sicily
(and Italy
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.

Byzantine (535–965)

Forty-seven years later the Gothic War (535–554) began between the Ostrogoths and the Eastern Roman Empire, also known as the Byzantine Empire . Sicily
Sicily
was the first part of Italy
Italy
to be taken by general Belisarius , who was commissioned by Eastern Emperor Justinian I as part of an ambitious attempt to restore the whole Roman Empire, thereby uniting the Eastern and the Western halves. Sicily
Sicily
was used as a base for the Byzantines to conquer the rest of Italy, with Naples , Rome, Milan
Milan
, and the Ostrogoth capital Ravenna
Ravenna
falling within five years. However, new Ostrogoth king Totila drove down the Italian peninsula, plundering and conquering Sicily
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
Sicily
a Byzantine province and, as in Roman times, Greek continued to be the predominate language spoken on the island. After the advent of Islam
Islam
Sicily
Sicily
was invaded by the Arab
Arab
forces of Caliph Uthman in 652, but the Arabs
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
Constantinople
to Syracuse in Sicily
Sicily
during 660. The following year, he launched an assault from Sicily
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 Sicily
Sicily
by Mezezius
Mezezius
being quickly suppressed by the new emperor. Contemporary accounts report that the Greek language
Greek language
was widely spoken on the island during this period. In 740 Emperor Leo III the Isaurian transferred Sicily
Sicily
from 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
Sicily
to Ziyadat Allah , the Aghlabid Emir of Tunisia
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
Arabs
, Berbers , Cretans , and Persians .

The Muslim conquest of Sicily was a see-saw affair and met with much resistance. It took over a century for Byzantine Sicily
Sicily
to be conquered; the largest city, Syracuse, held out until 878 and the Greek city of Taormina
Taormina
fell in 962. It was not until 965 that all of Sicily
Sicily
was conquered by Berbers and Arabs
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)

Main article: Emirate of Sicily Façade of La Magione church, an example of Arab-Norman architecture Arabesque on a wall in the Cuba Palace in Palermo
Palermo

The Arabs
Arabs
initiated land reforms , which increased productivity and encouraged the growth of smallholdings , undermining the dominance of the latifundia . The Arabs
Arabs
further improved irrigation systems. The language spoken in Sicily
Sicily
under Arab
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
Malta
today. Trilingual sign in Palermo
Palermo
in Italian, Hebrew and Arabic
Arabic
.

A description of Palermo
Palermo
was given by Ibn Hawqal , an Arab
Arab
merchant who visited Sicily
Sicily
in 950. A walled suburb, called the Al-Kasr (the palace), is the centre of Palermo
Palermo
to this day, with the great Friday mosque on the site of the later Roman cathedral. The suburb of al-Khalisa (modern Kalsa ) contained the Sultan
Sultan
's palace, baths, a mosque, government offices, and a private prison. Ibn Hawqal reckoned 7,000 individual butchers trading in 150 shops. Palermo
Palermo
was initially ruled by the Aghlabids ; later it was the centre of Emirate of Sicily under the nominal suzerainty of the Fatimid Caliphate
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
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 affairs.

The Emirate of Sicily began to fragment as intra-dynastic quarrelling fractured the Muslim regime. During this time, there was also a minor Jewish presence.

NORMAN SICILY (1038–1198)

See also: Norman conquest of southern Italy
Italy
Roger I conqueror and first count of Sicily, depicted on a Trifollaris The cathedral of 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 a reconquest, Normans would complete a conquest of Sicily
Sicily
from the Arabs
Arabs
under Roger I . After taking Apulia and Calabria
Calabria
, Roger occupied Messina
Messina
with an army of 700 knights. In 1068, Roger was victorious at Misilmeri , but the most crucial battle was the siege of Palermo, which led to most of Sicily
Sicily
coming under Norman control in 1072. The Normans finished their conquest in 1091, when they captured Noto , which was the last Arab
Arab
stronghold.

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.

The Norman Hauteville family , who were descendants of Vikings
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 Normans in Sicily
Sicily
also 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
Europe
and the Middle East, like the multi-ethnic 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
Arab
and Greek influence. The governance was by the rule of law, so there was justice. Muslims, Jews, Byzantine Greeks
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

Main articles: Kingdom of Sicily and List of monarchs of Sicily The Cathedral of Monreale

Palermo
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 Apulia and Calabria
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 period, the 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 Italy
Italy
and Campania arrived during this period. Linguistically, the island shifted from being one third Greek and two thirds Arabic
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.

HOHENSTAUFEN DYNASTY

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
Sicily
being passed on to the Hohenstaufen Dynasty , who were Germans
Germans
from 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
Sicily
from the rest of The Holy Roman Empire
Roman Empire
, thus ending the spectre of the Papal States
Papal States
being surrounded. Frederick was four when, at Palermo
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
Palermo
. There he picked up the many languages he heard spoken, such as Arabic
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
Arab
presence in Sicily, moving all the Muslims of Sicily
Sicily
to the city of Lucera in Apulia between 1221 and 1226.

Conflict between the Hohenstaufen house and the Papacy
Papacy
led, in 1266, to Pope Innocent IV crowning the French prince Charles , count of Anjou and Provence , as the king of both Sicily
Sicily
and Naples.

SICILY UNDER SPANISH RULE

Depiction of the Sicilian Vespers

Strong opposition to French officialdom due to mistreatment and taxation saw the local peoples of Sicily
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
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 by 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
Naples
by Pope Boniface VIII . Sicily
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 Europe. Sicilian Baroque in Catania
Catania

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
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
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
Spain
was able to conquer Sicily
Sicily
and Naples. At first Sicily
Sicily
was able to remain as an independent kingdom under personal union , while the Bourbons ruled over both from Naples. However, the advent of Napoleon 's First French Empire saw Naples
Naples
taken at the Battle of Campo Tenese and Bonapartist King of Naples
Naples
were installed. Ferdinand III the Bourbon was forced to retreat to Sicily
Sicily
which he was still in complete control of with the help of British naval protection.

Following this Sicily
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 Sicily
Sicily
and Naples
Naples
formally merged as the 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 1849 the Bourbons retook the control of the island and dominated it until 1860.

ITALIAN UNIFICATION

See also: Risorgimento The beginning of the Expedition of the Thousand , 1860.

The Expedition of the Thousand
Expedition of the Thousand
led by Giuseppe Garibaldi
Giuseppe Garibaldi
captured Sicily
Sicily
in 1860, as part of the _ Risorgimento _. The conquest started at Marsala
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 Kingdom of Sardinia
Sardinia
. Sicily
Sicily
became part of the Kingdom of Sardinia after a referendum where more than 75% of Sicily
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 Italy
Italy
proclamation, Sicily
Sicily
became 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
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
Italy
was controversial and ambiguous. The 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
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 during 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 of Sicily
Sicily
contributed to the 25 July crisis ; in general, the Allied victors were warmly embraced by Sicily.

Italy
Italy
became a Republic in 1946 and, as part of the Constitution of Italy
Italy
, Sicily
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 Mezzogiorno
Mezzogiorno
_ (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 magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino . Between 1990 and 2005, the unemployment rate fell from about 23% to 11%.

DEMOGRAPHICS

HISTORICAL POPULATION

YEAR POP. ±%

1861 2,409,000 —

1871 2,590,000 +7.5%

1881 2,933,000 +13.2%

1901 3,568,000 +21.7%

1911 3,812,000 +6.8%

1921 4,223,000 +10.8%

1931 3,906,000 −7.5%

1936 4,000,000 +2.4%

1951 4,487,000 +12.2%

1961 4,721,000 +5.2%

1971 4,681,000 −0.8%

1981 4,907,000 +4.8%

1991 4,966,000 +1.2%

2001 4,969,000 +0.1%

2011 5,002,904 +0.7%

2017 5,056,641 +1.1%

Source: ISTAT 2010

The city of Palermo
Palermo
in 2005

Sicily
Sicily
is a melting pot of a variety of different cultures and ethnicities, including the original Italic people , the Greeks
Greeks
, Romans , Byzantines , Saracens , Normans , Swabians , Aragonese , Lombards , 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 Italy
Italy
. In the first century after the Italian Unification , Sicily
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 of Italy
Italy
and Sardinia, immigration to the island is very low compared to other regions of Italy
Italy
because workers tend to head to Northern Italy
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 the population); Romanians with more than 50 thousand make up the most immigrants, followed by Tunisians , Moroccans
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 .

MAJOR SETTLEMENTS

In Sicily, there are only three _metropolitan areas _:

* Palermo
Palermo
that has a Larger Urban Zone of 1,044,169 people * Catania
Catania
whose LUZ is of 801,280 people * Messina
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:

* Palermo
Palermo
(677,854) * Catania
Catania
(315,576) * Messina
Messina
(242,121) * Syracuse (123,248) * Marsala
Marsala
(82,812) * Gela (77,295) * Ragusa (73,756) * Trapani
Trapani
(70,642) * Vittoria (63,393) * Caltanissetta (60,221) * Agrigento
Agrigento
(59,190) * Bagheria (56,421) * Modica (55,294) * Acireale (53,205) * Mazara del Vallo (51,413).

POPULATION GENETICS

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
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, Greeks
Greeks
from Crete
Crete
, Laconia
Laconia
, and Peloponese are genetically closest to Sicilians. According to another study, Sicilians were closest to other southern Italians and Greeks from Crete
Crete
and the Aegean islands , but distinct from all mainland Greeks.

FREQUENCIES (IN %) OF Y-CHROMOSOME (N=236) AND MTDNA (N=313) HAPLOGROUPS

_Y-chromosome_ _mtDNA_

1.27% E-V12 0.64% L3

5.93% E-V13 1.92% M

3.81% E-V22 3.52% N

0.42% E-V65 2.56% I

2.12% E-M81 0.96% W

4.66% E-M123 4.47% X

5.93% G 1.28% R

7.62% I 4.79% HV

3.81% J1 38.02% H

25.84% J2 1.60% V

5.51% T 13.10% T

0.42% L 9.90% J

2.54% Q 12.47% U*

5.51% R1a 0.64% U6

24.58% R1b 4.15% K

ETHNO-LINGUISTIC MINORITIES

In Sicily
Sicily
there are two historical ethno-linguistic minorities, the Lombards of Sicily
Sicily
and the Arbëreshë .

* LOMBARDS OF SICILY are a linguistic minority living in northern-central Sicily
Sicily
who speak an isolated variety of Gallo-Italic dialects, the so-called Gallo-Italic of Sicily . The Lombards of Sicily, who came from Northern Italy, settled the central and eastern part of Sicily
Sicily
about 900 years ago, during the Norman conquest of Sicily
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 , Lombardy
Lombardy
they began to spread south between the 11th and 14th centuries. Aidone , Piazza Armerina , Nicosia , San Fratello , Novara di Sicilia are the most important communities. * ARBëRESHë settled in Southern Italy
Italy
in the 15th to 18th centuries in several waves of migrations. They are the Albanian Catholics who fled to Italy
Italy
after Albania was conquered by the Ottoman Turks . There are three Arbëreshë communities identified within the province of Palermo
Palermo
, which have maintained unchanged, with different aspects together, the ethnic, linguistic and religious origins. The countries are: Contessa Entellina , Piana degli Albanesi and Santa Cristina 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 heritage.

POLITICS

Main article: Politics of Sicily

The politics of Sicily
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 system . 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
Sicily
is Palermo
Palermo
.

Traditionally, Sicily
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
Sicily
. After World War II
World War II
Sicily
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 . Sicily
Sicily
is now governed by a centre-left coalition between Democratic Party and the centre-party Union of Christian and Centre Democrats . Rosario Crocetta is the current President since 2012.

ADMINISTRATIVE DIVISIONS

Provinces of Sicily
Sicily

Administratively, Sicily
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 (Agrigento).

PROVINCE AREA (KM2) POPULATION DENSITY (INH./KM2)

Province of Agrigento
Agrigento
3,042 453,594 149.1

Province of Caltanissetta 2,128 271,168 127.4

Province of Catania
Catania
3,552 1,090,620 307.0

Province of Enna
Enna
2,562 172,159 67.2

Province of Messina
Messina
3,247 652,742 201.0

Province of Palermo
Palermo
4,992 1,249,744 250.3

Province of Ragusa 1,614 318,980 197.6

Province of Siracusa 2,109 403,559 191.3

Province of Trapani
Trapani
2,460 436,240 177.3

ECONOMY

See also: Economy of Italy
Italy

Thanks to the regular growth of the last years, Sicily
Sicily
is the eighth richest region of Italy
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. Today Sicily
Sicily
is investing a large amount of money on structures of the hospitality industry , in order to make tourism more competitive. However, Sicily
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.

AGRICULTURE

A sample of Marsala
Marsala
, a DOC wine produced in the city of Marsala .

Sicily
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 (_Cioccolato di Modica IGP_) productions.

Sicily
Sicily
is the third largest wine producer in Italy
Italy
(the world's largest wine producer) after Veneto
Veneto
and Emilia Romagna . The region is known mainly for fortified Marsala
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 white wine Alcamo
Alcamo
DOC . Furthermore, in Sicily
Sicily
high quality wines are also produced using non-native varietals like Syrah , Chardonnay and Merlot .

Sicily
Sicily
is also known for its liqueurs, such as the Amaro Averna produced in 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
Sicily
and one of the most important in Italy.

INDUSTRY AND MANUFACTURING

Palermo
Palermo
shipyards Oilfields near Ragusa .

Improvements in Sicily's road system have helped to promote industrial development. The region has three important industrial districts :

* _ Catania
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
Silicon Valley
) which contains offices and factories of international companies such as STMicroelectronics and Numonyx ; * _Syracuse Petrochemical District_ with chemical industries , oil refineries and important power stations (as the innovative Archimede combined cycle power plant ); * the latest _ Enna
Enna
Industrial District_ in which there are food industries .

In Palermo
Palermo
there are important shipyards (such as Fincantieri ), mechanical factories of famous Italian companies as Ansaldo Breda
Ansaldo Breda
, publishing and textile industries. Chemical industries are also in the Province of Messina
Messina
( 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
Trapani
is one of the largest sea salt producers in Italy.

STATISTICS

GDP Growth

A table showing Sicily's different GDP (nominal and per capita) growth between 2000 and 2008:

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2008

GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT (Millions of Euros) 67,204 70,530 72,855 75,085 77,327 80,358 82,938 88,328

GDP (PPP) PER CAPITA (Euro) 13,479 14,185 14,662 15,053 15,440 16,023 16,531 17,533

Economic Sectors

After the table which shows Sicily's GDP growth, this table shows the sectors of the Sicilian economy in 2006:

ECONOMIC ACTIVITY GDP (MIL. €) % sector (region) % sector (Italy)

Agriculture, farming, fishing 2,923.3 3.52% 1.84%

Industry 7,712.9 9.30% 18.30%

Constructions 4,582.1 5.52% 5.41%

Commerce, hotels and restaurants, transport, services and (tele)communications 15,159.7 18.28% 20.54%

Financial activity and real estate 17,656.1 21.29% 24.17%

OTHER ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES 24,011.5 28.95% 18.97%

VAT and other forms of taxes 10,893.1 13.13% 10.76%

GDP OF SICILY 82,938.6

TRANSPORT

ROADS

The A20 Messina- Palermo
Palermo
motorway near Torregrotta Messina
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
Sicily
are the _Strade Statali_ like the SS.113 that connects Trapani
Trapani
to Messina
Messina
(via Palermo), the SS.114 Messina-Syracuse (via Catania) and the SS.115 Syracuse- Trapani
Trapani
(via Ragusa , Gela and Agrigento
Agrigento
).

SIGN MOTORWAY LENGTH TOLL SERVICES

A18 Messina- Catania
Catania
76 km (47 mi) Yes Yes

RA15 Catania\'s Bypass (West) 24 km (15 mi) free Yes

Motorway Catania-Siracusa 25 km (16 mi) free No

A18 Siracusa-Rosolini 40 km (25 mi) free No

A19 Palermo- Catania
Catania
199 km (124 mi) free Yes

A20 Palermo- Messina
Messina
181 km (112 mi) Yes Yes

A29 Palermo- Mazara del Vallo 119 km (74 mi) free No

A29dir Alcamo-Trapani/ Marsala
Marsala
38 and 44 km (24 and 27 mi) free No

RAILWAYS

Two trains inside Punta Raisi railway station within Palermo International Airport . Palermo
Palermo
, AMAT Tramway System Map

The first railway in Sicily
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 operated by 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
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
Naples
and Rome; this is achieved by the trains being loaded onto ferries which cross to the mainland.

In Catania
Catania
there is an underground railway service (metropolitana di Catania
Catania
); in Palermo
Palermo
the national railway operator Trenitalia operates a commuter rail ( Palermo
Palermo
metropolitan railway service ), the Sicilian Capital is also served by 4 AMAT (Comunal Public Transport Operator) tramlines; Messina
Messina
is served by a tramline .

AIRPORTS

Catania
Catania
International Airport Main article: List of airports in Sicily
Sicily

Mainland Sicily
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
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
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 installation. * Lampedusa Airport * Pantelleria Airport .

PORTS

The port of Catania
Catania

By sea, Sicily
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 (route to Villa San Giovanni and Salerno
Salerno
), the busiest passenger port in Italy, Palermo
Palermo
(routes to Genoa
Genoa
, Civitavecchia and Naples
Naples
) and Catania
Catania
(route to Naples
Naples
) . * Sicily's small surrounding islands: The port of Milazzo serves the Aeolian Islands , the ports of Trapani
Trapani
and Marsala
Marsala
the Aegadian Islands and the port of Porto Empedocle the Pelagie Islands . From Palermo
Palermo
there is a service to the island of Ustica and to Sardinia
Sardinia
. * International connections: From Palermo
Palermo
and Trapani
Trapani
there are weekly services to Tunisia
Tunisia
and there is also a daily service between Malta
Malta
and Pozzallo
Pozzallo
. * Commercial/Cargo Ports: The port of Augusta is the 5th largest cargo port in Italy
Italy
which handles tonnes of goods. Other major cargo ports are Palermo, Catania, Trapani, Pozzallo
Pozzallo
and 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 , Cefalù and Sciacca . In Sicily, Palermo
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
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
Palermo
and Portorosa (Messina) are Best Charter and Jonio Yachting. * Fishing ports: As all islands, Sicily
Sicily
also has many fishing ports. The most important is in Mazara del Vallo followed by Castellamare del Golfo , Licata , Scoglitti and Portopalo di Capo Passero .

PLANNED BRIDGE

Main article: Strait of Messina Bridge

Plans for a bridge linking Sicily
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
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 organised crime.

TOURISM

Lampedusa , Pelagie Islands

Sicily's sunny, dry climate, scenery, cuisine, history and architecture attract many tourists from mainland Italy
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 Palermo
Palermo
, Catania
Catania
, Syracuse and Ragusa are the favourite tourist destinations, but the old town of Taormina
Taormina
and the neighbouring seaside resort of Giardini Naxos
Giardini Naxos
draw visitors from all over the world, as do the Aeolian Islands , Erice , Castellammare del Golfo , Cefalù , Agrigento
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
Sicily
as a tourist destination.

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 of inscription:

* VALLE DEI TEMPLI (1997) is one of the most outstanding examples of Greater Greece
Greece
art and architecture, and is one of the main attractions of Sicily
Sicily
as well as a national monument of Italy. The site is located in Agrigento
Agrigento
. * 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 town of 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
Baroque
art in Europe". It includes several towns: Caltagirone
Caltagirone
, Militello in Val di Catania
Catania
, Catania
Catania
, Modica , Noto , Palazzolo Acreide , Ragusa and Scicli .

Cathedral of San Giorgio in Modica

* 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 Sicily
Sicily
(1130–1194)

Taormina
Taormina
's central square at sunset.

Tentative Sites

* Taormina
Taormina
and Isola Bella ; * Motya and Libeo Island : The Phoenician-Punic Civilisation in Italy; * Scala dei Turchi ; * Strait of Messina .

ARCHEOLOGICAL SITES

Because many different cultures settled, dominated or invaded the island, Sicily
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:

* Sicels/Sicans/Elymians/Greeks: Segesta , Eryx , Cava Ispica , Thapsos , Pantalica . * Greeks: Syracuse , Agrigento
Agrigento
, Segesta , Selinunte
Selinunte
, Gela , Kamarina , Himera , Megara Hyblaea , Naxos , Heraclea Minoa , * Phoenicians: Motya , Soluntum , Marsala
Marsala
, Palermo
Palermo
. * Romans: Piazza Armerina , Centuripe , Taormina
Taormina
, Palermo
Palermo
. * Arabs: Palermo
Palermo
, 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 Segesta , Selinunte
Selinunte
, Siracusa and Taormina
Taormina
.

CASTLES

In Sicily
Sicily
there are hundreds of castles, the most relevant are: Castello Ursino in Catania
Catania
Zisa Castle in Palermo
Palermo
. (Castle of the Counts of Modica (Alcamo) in Alcamo
Alcamo
. Castello di Donnafugata near Ragusa

PROVINCE CASTLES COMMUNE

Caltanisetta Castello Manfredonico Mussomeli

U Cannuni Mazzarino

Castelluccio di Gela Gela

Catania
Catania
Castello Ursino Catania
Catania

Castello Normanno Adrano
Adrano

Castello Normanno Paternò

Castello di Aci Aci Castello

Messina
Messina
Forte dei Centri Messina
Messina

Castello di Milazzo Milazzo

Castello di Sant'Alessio Siculo Sant\'Alessio Siculo

Castello di Pentefur Savoca

Castello di Schisò Giardini Naxos
Giardini Naxos

Palermo
Palermo
Zisa, Palermo
Palermo
Palermo
Palermo

Castello di Caccamo Caccamo

Castello di Carini Carini

Castello dei Ventimiglia Castelbuono

Ragusa Castello di Donnafugata Ragusa

Torre Cabrera Pozzallo
Pozzallo

Castello Dei Conti Modica

Syracuse Castello Maniace Syracuse

Trapani
Trapani
Castello di Venere Erice

Castle of the Counts of Modica Alcamo
Alcamo

Castle of Calatubo Alcamo
Alcamo

COASTAL TOWERS

The Coastal towers in Sicily
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
North Africa
to Maghreb
Maghreb
, mainly to Barbary pirates
Barbary pirates
and corsairs of Barbary Coast . In 1516, the Turks settled in Algiers
Algiers
, and from 1520, the corsair Hayreddin Barbarossa under the command of Ottoman Empire
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
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-Capo-Rama ( Terrasini ) *

Torre di ( Altavilla Milicia ) *

Torre Spalmatore ( Ustica ) *

Torre Pozzillo ( Cinisi
Cinisi
) *

Ligny Tower
Ligny Tower
- ( Trapani
Trapani
) *

Torre Nubia ( Paceco ) *

Torre Manfria ( Gela ) *

Torre Cabrera (Marina di Ragusa) ( Marina di Ragusa ) *

Torre Cabrera (Pozzallo) ( Pozzallo
Pozzallo
) *

Vignazza Tower ( Giardini Naxos
Giardini Naxos
)

CULTURE

_To have seen Italy
Italy
without having seen Sicily
Sicily
is to not have seen Italy
Italy
at all, for Sicily
Sicily
is the clue to everything._ — Goethe _ Virgin Annunciate_ , Antonello da Messina
Messina

Sicily
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. Gorgias and 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 Caltagirone
Caltagirone

Terracotta
Terracotta
ceramics from the island are well known, the art of ceramics on Sicily
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. Nowadays, Caltagirone
Caltagirone
is one of the most important centres in Sicily for the artistic production of ceramics and terra-cotta sculptures. Famous painters include Renaissance
Renaissance
artist Antonello da Messina
Messina
, 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
Filippo Juvarra
(one of the most important figures of the Italian Baroque
Baroque
) and Ernesto Basile .

Sicilian Baroque

Syracuse Cathedral Main article: Sicilian Baroque

The Sicilian Baroque has a unique architectural identity. Noto , Caltagirone
Caltagirone
, Catania
Catania
, Ragusa , Modica , Scicli and particularly Acireale contain some of Italy's best examples of Baroque
Baroque
architecture , carved in the local red sandstone . Noto provides one of the best examples of the Baroque
Baroque
architecture brought to Sicily.

The Baroque
Baroque
style in Sicily
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
Florence
, and Naples
Naples
. 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 Pantalica

* Arab-Norman Palermo
Palermo
and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalù and Monreale
Monreale
* Archaeological Area of Agrigento
Agrigento
* Late Baroque
Baroque
Towns of the Val di Noto * Aeolian Islands * Mount Etna * Syracuse and the Rocky Necropolis of Pantalica * Villa Romana del Casale

MUSIC AND FILM

Teatro Massimo , Palermo
Palermo
See also: Music of Sicily

Palermo
Palermo
hosts the Teatro Massimo which is the largest opera house in Italy
Italy
and the third largest in all of Europe. In Catania
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
Vincenzo Bellini
, Sigismondo d\'India , Giovanni Pacini and Alessandro Scarlatti , to contemporary composers such as Salvatore Sciarrino and Silvio Amato . Vincenzo Bellini
Vincenzo Bellini

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 _".

LITERATURE

See also: Italian Literature and Sicilian School Luigi Pirandello

The golden age of Sicilian poetry began in the early 13th century with the Sicilian School of Giacomo da Lentini , which was highly influential on 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 Sciascia , Vitaliano Brancati , Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa , Elio Vittorini , 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 include Gaetano Mosca and Giovanni Gentile
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.

LANGUAGE

Main article: Sicilian language

Today in Sicily
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, Arabic
Arabic
, Spanish and other languages. Dialects related to Sicilian are also spoken in Calabria
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 Sicily
Sicily
created under the auspices of Frederick II and his court of notaries, or _Magna Curia_, which, headed by Giacomo da Lentini , also gave birth to the Sicilian School , widely inspired by troubadour literature. Its linguistic and poetic heritage was later assimilated into the Florentine by Dante Alighieri , the father of modern Italian who, in his _ De vulgari eloquentia _, claims that "In effect this vernacular seems to deserve a higher praise than the others, since all the poetry written by Italians can be called Sicilian". It is in this language that appeared the first sonnet , whose invention is attributed to Giacomo da Lentini himself.

SCIENCE

Catania
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 Italy
Italy
that performs geodetic and astronomical observations. There are observatories in Palermo
Palermo
and Catania
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
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 the 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
Ettore Majorana
known for the Majorana equation and Majorana fermions . Sicily's famous scientists include also Stanislao Cannizzaro
Stanislao Cannizzaro
(chemist), Giovanni Battista Hodierna and Niccolò Cacciatore (astronomers). Department of Engineering, University of Messina
Messina

EDUCATION

Sicily
Sicily
has four universities:

* The University of Catania
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
Catania
hosts also the _Scuola Superiore _, an academic institution linked to the University of Catania, aiming for excellence in education. * The University of Palermo
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 Palermo
Palermo
( Palermo
Palermo
botanical gardens) is home to the university's Department of Botany and is also open to visitors. * The University of Messina
Messina
, founded in 1548 by Ignatius of Loyola . It is organised in 11 Faculties. * The Kore University of Enna
Enna
founded in 1995, it is the latest Sicilian university and the first university founded in Sicily
Sicily
after the Italian Unification .

RELIGION

Noto Cathedral See also: Italo-Albanian Catholic Church See also: History of the Jews in Sicily See also: History of Islam
Islam
in southern Italy
Italy

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
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 Sicily
Sicily
for 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
Islam
was present during the 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.

CUISINE

Main articles: Sicilian cuisine and Sicilian pizza Cannoli , a highly popular pastry associated with Sicilian cuisine

The island has a long history of producing a variety of noted cuisines and wines, to the extent that Sicily
Sicily
is sometimes nicknamed _God's Kitchen_ because of this. Every part of Sicily
Sicily
has its speciality (for example Cassata is typical of Palermo, even if available everywhere in Sicily, as is Granita, a Catania
Catania
speciality). The ingredients are typically rich in taste while remaining affordable to the general public The savoury dishes of Sicily
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 . Cannoli (singular: _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
Sicily
worldwide. Biancomangiare, biscotti ennesi (cookies native to Enna
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 dishes.

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
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. Parsley is 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 Normans and 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 Noto .

SPORTS

Giuseppe Gibilisco , pole vaulter from Syracuse , 2003 World Champion and bronze Olympic medalist

The most popular sport on Sicily
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
Italy
are from Sicily: the three most successful are Palermo
Palermo
, Messina
Messina
, and Catania
Catania
, who have all, at some point, played in the Serie A . To date no club from Sicily
Sicily
has ever won Serie A, but football is still deeply embedded in local culture and all over Sicily
Sicily
most towns have a representative team.

Palermo
Palermo
and Catania
Catania
have a heated rivalry and compete in the Sicilian derby together: to date, Palermo
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
Italy
. Other noted players include 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 Catania
Catania
have 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
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 motorsport , Sicily
Sicily
held the prominent Targa Florio
Targa Florio
sports car race that took place in the Madonie Mountains, with the start-finish line in 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
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 Cup .

POPULAR CULTURE

_ Sicilian arrotino_ at a living nativity scene wearing traditional Sicilian clothing Religious festival in Trapani
Trapani
A carnival float in Acireale

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 in Ramacca in April. The most important traditional event in Sicily
Sicily
is the carnival . Famous carnivals are in Acireale , Misterbianco , Regalbuto , Paternò , Sciacca , 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
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 theatres of Palermo
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 Palermo
Palermo
; the Canino of Partinico and Alcamo
Alcamo
; Crimi, Trombetta and Napoli of Catania
Catania
, Pennisi and Macri of Acireale , Profeta of Licata , Gargano and Grasso of Agrigento
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 Randazzo .

REGIONAL SYMBOLS

There are several cultural icons and regional symbols in Sicily, including flags, carts, sights and geographical features. Triskelion painted on Ancient Greek vase, Agrigento
Agrigento
.

The Flag of Sicily , regarded as a regional icon, was first adopted in 1282, after the Sicilian Vespers of Palermo
Palermo
. It is characterised by the presence of the _trinacria_ (triskelion) in its middle, the (winged) head of Medusa
Medusa
and three wheat ears. The three bent legs are supposed to represent the three points of the island Sicily
Sicily
itself. The colours, instead, respectively represent the cities of Palermo
Palermo
and Corleone , at those times an agricultural city of renown. Palermo
Palermo
and 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
Sicily
was part of Magna Graecia , the colonial extension of Greece
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 in 1808. Pliny the Elder attributes the origin of the triskelion of Sicily
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
Hephaestus
's three-legged tables that ran by themselves, as mentioned in Iliad
Iliad
xviii. A traditional Sicilian cart

The 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
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.

NOTABLE PEOPLE

Main article: List of people from Sicily

REFERENCES

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Chestnut
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FURTHER READING

* Bonacini, Elisa (2007) _Il territorio calatino nella Sicilia imperiale e tardoromana_ (British Archeological Reports, International Series: 1694) Archaeopress, Oxford, England, ISBN 978-1-4073-0136-5 , in Italian with abstract in English * Chaney, Edward. (2000), "British and American Travellers in Sicily from the eighth to the twentieth century", The Evolution of the Grand Tour, Routledge. * Leighton, Robert (1999) _ Sicily
Sicily
before History_ (Duckworth, London; Cornell University Press, Ithaca). * Mendola, Louis; Alio, Jacqueline (2013)._The Peoples of Sicily: A Multicultural Legacy_ ( Trinacria Editions, New York, ISBN 978-0-615-79694-9 ). * Spadi, Fabio. (2001) "The Bridge on the Strait of Messina: \'Lowering\' the Right of Innocent Passage?" _International and Comparative Law Quarterly_ 50: 411 ff. * "From Rome to Sicily: Plane or Train?" Expert Travel Advice, The New York Times, 7 February 2008 The New York Times. * " Italy
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makes record mafia seizure". BBC
BBC
News. 22 December 2008. Retrieved 23 April 2010. * " Sicily
Sicily
Mafia restoring US links". Mafia News. 29 February 2008. Archived from the original on 1 January 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2010.

* "Sicily: Art and Invention between Greece
Greece
and Rome". Getty Publications, 2013.

EXTERNAL LINKS

_ Wikimedia Commons has media related to SICILY _.

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* Sicilian Region — Official website (in Italian) * Geographic data related to Sicily
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at

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