The largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicilia has been shaped by an unmatched parade of cultures. Richly Hellenic before falling under 700 years of Roman rule, Sicilia would pass to the Vandals, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, and Spanish before Giuseppe Garibaldi would start the liberation (1860) and unification of all Italia at the western port of Marsala.

The Sicilian autostrade, toll-highways, often offer exceptional vistas as the elevated sections connecting the mountainous terrain reflect a modern version of Roman engineering.

Airports at Palermo, Catania and Trapani offer plenty of travel options, while train lines are easily accessible in most city centers. A narrow gauge railway still operates around Mount Etna, one of Italia's three active volcanoes.

Ferry traffic to offshore islands such as Pantelleria, Lampadusa, the Aeolian, or the Egadi (Maretimmo, Levanzo and Favignana) is plentiful. The Aeolian Islands, just northwest of Messina, are especially popular in summer.

Sicilia has its own special variant of Baroque architecture with splendid examples in Noto, Ragusa, and Acireale, all carved in the distinctive red sandstone.

Sicilians are especially proud of their cuisine which includes a distinctive array of olives, citrus, vegetables, seafood, and of course sweets (granita siciliana, gelato, marzipan, cannoli, etc.). The creative spread of Sicilian meat dishes: lamb, goats, turkey, and goose owe much to the Norman influence.

The family and the church are at the center of Sicilian community. Small children often accompany adults even into the late evening hours when socializing and dining.

If traveling in Sicilia during January or February, the annual spectacle of carnivale is particularly noteworthy for the costumes, parades, elaborate street lighting schemes, and of course.fireworks.

High above the northeastern coast of Sicilia are the luxury hotels and elegant restaurants of Taormina. The most striking architecture in this unique landscape is the 2nd C. BC Teatro Greco, Greek Theater; a multi-millennial stage setting that has one of Europe’s few active volcanoes, Mt. Etna, looming in the background.