Sardinia or Sicily? This is the question asked by those who want to travel to Italy without stepping on the boot-shaped terrain. The answer is often repeated: if you are looking for a beach, go to Sardinia, and if you want to see cities with a lot of history, go to Sicily.
It is unfair to say it because in Sardinia there are also very beautiful cities such as Alghero, and it is also unfair to assume that in Sicily there are no beautiful beaches, because there are also. Be that as it may, in this article I will not go into that discussion and I will talk about its main cities, all of them highly recommended when planning an end-to-end tour of the island.
It is the capital of Sicily and some live there 860,000 inhabitants. It shines for its extensive artistic and architectural heritage, although it does not for the civility that is breathed in its streets. It is one of the most dangerous places to drive in Europe, since its inhabitants are used to skipping traffic signs such as a "STOP" or a "Give way". It is the law of the jungle, so be careful if you rent a car and move around. I tell you from experience.
From Palermo we can highlight its cathedral, the Palacio dei Normanni, the Massimo Theater, the beautiful Quattro Canti Palace, the Zisa Palace, the Monreale Cathedral, the San Cataldo Church or the Botanical Garden. On the outskirts you can visit the mondello beach.
Located in the west of Sicily, Catania is the second most important city on the island. Some 340,000 inhabitants live in it and we could say that it is very close to the mount etna, the largest active volcano on the old continent. Although it has been destroyed up to seven times due to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, it has always been able to rebuild itself to become a city that invites you to stroll through its streets.
It is worth going to the Ursino Castle, the Basilica della Collegiata, the Catanian Diocesean Museum or the Museo Civico Belliniano.
It is located in the southeast of Sicily and can be considered one of the most popular cultural centers of the Ancient Greece. The city has about 125,000 inhabitants and is full of places with great historical value, such as an amphitheater with capacity for up to 15,000 people.
In addition to the amphitheater, it is highly recommended to visit Ortigia, which is a small island and fortress of Siracusa that at night is filled with tourists wanting to have a good time. There are numerous bars and restaurants and in the summer months there is a festive atmosphere for each and every one of its streets.
With almost 250,000 inhabitants and located in the northeast of Sicily, it cannot be denied that it is one of the most important cities on the island. It occupies a territory very punished by the seismic activity (in 1908 an earthquake killed 80,000 people), but that does not prevent it from conserving an enviable historical and urban heritage.
You can go see one of its museums, the Church of Carmine, the Cathedral of Messina, the Fontana di Orione or its astronomical clock, which was built in Strasbourg in 1933 and is part of a 60 meter high bell tower.
It is the largest city in western Sicily, a city of just over 70,000 inhabitants that is very popular for its salt mills and salt pans. There are also Phoenician archaeological remains and we cannot forget their Beaches. The one I liked the most was San Vito lo Capo.
What else is there to see in Trapani? The Mangiapane Grotto, the Museo Regionalale Conte Agostino, the Cathedral of Trapani or the Museum of Salt.
I have to say that it is the city that I liked the most in Sicily. Its streets are very beautiful and it is worth spending a whole day. Of course, the Taormina Theater is the one that takes the cake, since it offers some spectacular views of the sea not to be missed. It has a diameter of 109 meters and in its day the capacity was 5,000 people.
I also recommend that you see the Taormina Castle, that you visit the Isla Bella or that you get on the Circumetneo Railway, which runs 110 kilometers of track moving around Etna to link Catania with Riposto.
It is probably the city with the most history on this list. Some 60,000 inhabitants live in it, but in ancient times it was one of the most important cities in the Magna Grecia. It is on the south coast and attracts thousands of tourists each year for its spectacular archaeological heritage. Of course, it must be said that it is one of the Italian cities with the lowest per capita income and there is a problem with organized crime and illegal drugs that has not just been solved.
The Valley of the Temples, where the Temple of Concord, the Temple of Juno and the Temple of Olympian Zeus are located, are a must.
In the small and charming Cefalù, where some 15,000 inhabitants who easily double in summer live, the Roman baths and their beautiful beaches They are the main protagonists, although we must also talk about its old cathedral and a very beautiful fishing port.
The main beach in Cefalù, shaped like a crescent, is one of the most acclaimed in Sicily. The sand is very fine and the water is always crystal clear. The bad thing is that in July and August you have to get up early to be able to place the towel.
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