Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean and is the most diverse region in Italy, a land of gods and natural forces and a place of ancient cultures. Throughout the history of Sicily, there have been many battles, rulers, cultures and religions. Prior to Roman rule, both the Greeks and the Carthagians fought against each other, later came the Arabs and the Normans.
Catania is Sicilyís second largest city and has been strongly influenced by earthquakes and the volcanic activity of Mt Etna. Therefore, only a few historical remnants have survived. However, after each disaster the city was rebuilt and the result is a Baroque city dominated by fascinating sights full of character and charm.
A devastating earthquake in 1693 destroyed the original town of Noto and left it in ruins. Construction of the new town took almost a hundred years, concluding near the end of the eighteenth century, when most of its buildings had been rebuilt. In addition to the geometrical design of its streets, the remarkable architectural harmony of the town has been created with an emphasis on ochre-colored sandstone.
The privately-owned train, the Ferrovia Circumetnea, travels around Mount Etna from Catania to Riposto. A couple of kilometres outside Catania, there are vast fertile fields. In the background is the mighty, over three thousand metre high Mt Etna, one of the most active and famous volcanoes in the world.
Taormina is situated on a rock high above the Ionic Sea. The Teatro Greco was built out of the stone of Monte Tauro in the third century A.D. and five hundred years later, it was enlarged by the Romans for gladiatorial battle. The old town ended at Porta Messina, whose medieval palaces and villas have been preserved right up until the present day.
A few kilometres from Palermo and set within a beautiful bay is Mondello, sheltered by the slopes of Monte Pellegrino that contains a grotto, an altar and a pilgrimís church, the Santuario di Santa Rosalia. Here this fascinating journey comes to an end. Sicily is exquisite, an ancient island of both discovery and pleasure.