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Begin your Sicilian odyssey in its capital city - Palermo. Booking Hotels Erice Spectacularly situated along a wide sweep of bay at the foot of Monte Pellegrino, Palermo was the wealthiest and most magnificent city in Europe in the 12th century. Siracusa Syracuse Holiday Flats Today Palermo has an air of faded grandeur and an unrivalled display of Norman art and architecture and Baroque churches. Booking Hotels Erice. Stroll along the Via Roma and Via Maqueda in the heart of the old town and get a sense of what Palermo is all about. Diving Centres Dive Sites and Schools Agrigento Donít miss the magnificent 12th century Norman cathedral at Monreale, 8 kilometres southwest of the city. Discount cheap lodging Palermo The inside of the cathedral is covered in breathtakingly glittering mosaics. Booking Hotels Erice

Sicily was chosen by the Gods of Olympus as the scene of their stories of love and hatred, of passion and revenge, of sudden wrath and deep compassion. Siracusa Syracuse apartments And today it's still a land of fire and passion. Booking Hotels Erice. It's also a land of great beauty and contrast, not least the contrast between what the local politicians say they'll do with the money, and what eventually ends up getting built/maintained/improved. Booking Hotels Erice. In ancient times, Sicily was covered with extremely rich farmland, whose copious wheat harvests fed virtually the entire western part of the Roman Empire. Booking Hotels Erice Its thick forests were renowned, but the Romans plundered them to build their great naval fleets and the myriad wooden homes that fueled Nero's infamous fire. Hostels in Solunto Like much of southern Italy, Sicily has been the ground upon which the boots of Western civilization have trod. Giardini Naxos Bed and Breakfast  

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. Nebrodi Accomodation 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. Booking Hotels Erice. The Normans took over in 1061. Booking Hotels Erice They tore down almost all signs of Arab culture. Nightlife Entertainment in Segesta 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. Booking Hotels Erice. It is to the Normans that we owe the most spectacular of Sicily's architectural treasures. Cheap hostels in Eolie Aeolian Islands 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. Booking Hotels Erice. 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. Farmhouses in Erice Eventually, in 1302, the French gave way to the Aragonese (part of the same dynasty which sponsored Christopher Columbus), who dominated until 1734. Booking Hotels Erice. The aristocracy created during this realm left their magnificent homes, such as Palermo's Palazzo Sclafani and Palazzo Chiaramonte, scattered all over the island. Discount cheap lodging Caltanissetta 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.

Sicily is a mountainous island ó an extension of the Apennine Mountains separated from the mainland by the Straits of Messina. Booking Hotels Erice There are many reasons to visit Sicily: water sports, beaches of rock and sand (including black sand), natural beauty, good food and friendly people. Tourist Information office centre Campo Bello di Mazara

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