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As elsewhere in the Roman Empire, the Romans were replaced by the Vandals and the Ostrogoths, who demolished far more than they built (one rare example is the villa of Piazza Armerina) and were swept away by the Byzantines. Agritourism in Pozzallo The Arabs who followed them moved the capitol from Siracusa to Palermo, renamed most of the existing towns, and planted the first carobs, date-palms, citrus trees, jasmines and melons. Acireale Accommodation. The Normans took over in 1061. Acireale Accommodation They tore down almost all signs of Arab culture. Hostels in Sciacca They brought the island to a new level of prosperity and planted a different kind of seed, still visible today in the blonde and red tresses of many Sicilians. Acireale Accommodation. It is to the Normans that we owe the most spectacular of Sicily's architectural treasures. Giardini Naxos Agriturismo From the cathedrals of Cefalý, Messina and Monreale to Palermo's Zisa and Cuba, the churches of San Giovanni degli Eremiti, San Cataldo and the Martorana. Under the realm of Frederick II, the Swabian king, Sicily became one of the centers of the Western world, and perhaps it is not surprising that the principal architectural endeavors of this era. These lasted only from 1220 to 1250, were of a military nature, such as the castles in Siracusa, Catania and Salemi. Acireale Accommodation. When Frederick died in 1250, his successor Manfred was murdered by the ruthless Charles of Anjou, whose French allies streamed into the island and established a new aristocracy so despised that it led to the popular uprising called the Sicilian Vespers. Milazzo Holiday Accommodation Eventually, in 1302, the French gave way to the Aragonese (part of the same dynasty which sponsored Christopher Columbus), who dominated until 1734. Acireale Accommodation. The aristocracy created during this realm left their magnificent homes, such as Palermo's Palazzo Sclafani and Palazzo Chiaramonte, scattered all over the island. Cheap guesthouses Eolie Aeolian Islands The Aragonese clergy, while wielding the heavy arm of the Inquisition, effectively conspired to keep almost all artistic traces of the Renaissance out of the island. Acireale Accommodation

The little known Aeolian Islands just of the northern coast of Sicily are an undiscovered delight, particularly if you're looking for peace and quiet surrounded by the pleasures of nature. Acireale Accommodation The sea is deep blue, warm and clear, ideal for underwater swimming and fishing, accompanied by flying-fish, swordfish, turtles, sea-horses and hammerfish. Acireale Accommodation. The islands are bathed in a limpid clear light, setting off the black volcanic pumice stone. Catania Hotels Vines are cultivated on the coastal strips and around the towns. Cheap guesthouses Sicily On the island of Vulcano bathe in its warm sea-water, heated by underground volcanic springs. Acireale Accommodation. The active volcano on Stromboli offers a spectacular opportunity to observe lava flows and frequent noisy minor eruptions. Catania Map  

For touring the island can be roughly divided into the north-shore and south-shore areas. Special offers Sicily The north shore has reefs, olive groves, secluded coves and countless seaside resorts including Cefalu, a gorgeous Arab-Norman city with good beaches. Acireale Accommodation. West of center of the north coast is Palermo the ancient capital and the islandís largest city. Be sure to visit the central market and 12th-century Monreale Cathedral which is 6 mi/8 km west of town (it has impressive biblical mosaics). Flats in Messina About 50 mi/80 km west of Palermo lies the ancient village of Erice atop a mountain: It still has remains of a temple dedicated to Venus. Acireale Accommodation. The southern coast has an even milder climate so thereís swimming most of the year (although it can get cold there between November and March). Messina lodging

'To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is not having seen Italy at all, for Sicily is the key to everything.' So said Goethe. Acireale Accommodation. Tuscany might want a look in, and Rome might beg to differ, but Sicily, with a history of foreign occupation across the centuries, is certainly fascinating, with a real pot-pourri of culture, cuisine and architecture. Plus the odd volcano. Siracusa Syracuse Holiday Flats

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