Sicily Italy

It's hard not to think of the isle of Sicily without considering the region's propensity towards violence. Between the powerful mafia, which for years bathed the countryside in blood, or Mt. Etna, whose 1669 eruption bathed the city of Catania Sicily in lava, the very fact that the island flourishes today is a testament to their resiliency. In fact, the brutal history of Sicily Italy dates back to 6th century BC, when it was first conquered by the Greeks. A cavalcade of occupiers followed: Carthaginians, Romans, Goths, Vandals, Arabs, Normans, Bourbons, Spaniards and Hapsburgs all enjoyed extended rules over the grain fields of Sicily Italy, before the region reluctantly joined the kingdom of Italy in 1861. With the passing of time, however, the constant upheaval and disparate influences led to a fascinating mishmash of sights upon the island, offering all the evidence necessary as to why the Sicilians are so fiercely proud of their land.

Travel options on the isle of Sicily include a number of different starting points and possible routes, with each region on the island offering their own intimate treasures. Taormina Sicily is one of the most visited spots, boasting access to both the imposing Mt. Etna (though Catania is still closer to the volcano) and a thousand sandy beaches. The nearby Lido Mazzaro is an effervescent center for summertime fun, with a wide array of bars, restaurants and hotels that attract both locals and vacationers from all over the world. The Greek Amphitheater is also located in Taormina Sicily, whose construction was cut out of the hillside by the Greeks, remodeled by the Romans, and fragmented by the Arabs.

The people of Catania Sicily are languid and fearless beneath the snowy visage of Mt. Etna. The walls of the city are made of lava and a wonder to look at, but in the end they seem arbitrary and ineffective - the evidence of which can be seen in the ossified lava flows that still dot the streets a surreal purple color. If the lava returns these walls will provide little resistance, but that seems to be the least of they city's worries. The architecture is that of a traditional baroque city, beautiful and ornate. The fact is, the city had better appear fabulous - it took most of the 18th century to reconstruct the place. That time it was a devastating earthquake - not Mt. Etna - that destroyed Catania Sicily.

Palermo, Sicily's capital, has long been the Italian model for corruption and greed. Only 25 years ago, gunmen and mob lackeys spilled into the streets, clawing their marks onto the face of the city. But that time has passed - Palermo has cleaned up its image with an impressive rapidity and flaunts some of the top museums and examples of architecture in Sicily Italy. The beautiful mosques and ornate squares give the city a distinctive flair that makes this one of the most visited areas of the island. Indeed, the disparity between its brutal past and its cultural treasures make for a distinctive visit to the isle of Sicily.

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