Sicily

       
Fontana del Nettuno in Messina

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Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea; along with surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana (Sicilian Autonomous Region).

Sicily is located in the central Mediterranean. It extends from the tip of the Apennine peninsula from which it is separated only by the narrow Strait of Messina, towards the North African coast. Its most prominent landmark is Mount Etna, which is at 3,320 m (10,890 ft) the tallest active volcano in Europe and one of the most active in the world. The island has a typical Mediterranean climate.

The earliest archeological evidence of human dwelling on the island dates from as early as 8000 BC. At around 750 BC, Sicily became a Greek colony and for the next 600 years it was the site of the Greek-Punic and Roman-Punic wars, which ended with the Roman destruction of Carthage. After the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, Sicily often changed hands, and during the early Middle Ages it was ruled in turn by the Vandals, Ostrogoths, Byzantines, Arabs and Normans. Later on, the Kingdom of Sicily lasted between 1130 and 1816, subordinated to the crowns of Aragon, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire, and finally the Bourbons, as the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. It was united with the rest of Italy in 1860, but a subsequent economic collapse led to a wave of emigration, separatism, and the emergence of the Mafia, whose criminal activities pose problems to this day. After the birth of the Italian Republic in 1946, Sicily was given special status as an autonomous region.

Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature, cuisine, architecture and language. Sicily also holds importance for archeological and ancient sites such as the Necropolis of Pantalica, the Valley of the Temples and Selinunte.

Sicily is an often-quoted example of man-made deforestation, which was practiced since Roman times, when the island was made an agricultural region. This gradually dampened the climate, leading to decline of rainfall and drying of rivers. Today, entire central and southwest provinces are practically without any forests. That also affected the island's wild fauna, of which is little left in the pastures and crop fields of the inland. The natural flora and fauna of the coastal region too has all but disappeared. The last section of unspoilt coastal wilderness is the Riserva dello Zingaro(The Gypsy)near San Vito lo Capo.

The Nebrodi Mountains Regional Park, established 4 August 1993, with its 86,000 hectares (210,000 acres) is the largest protected natural area of Sicily, here is the largest forest of Sicily, called forest Caronia, that is also the second name of Nebrodi Mountains. A number of bird species are found in Sicily. In some cases Sicily is a delimited point of a species range. For example, the subspecies of Hooded Crow, Corvus cornix ssp cornix occurs in Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica, but no further south.

The Hundred Horse Chestnut (Castagno dei Cento Cavalli), located on Linguaglossa road in Sant'Alfio, on the eastern slope of Mount Etna is the largest and oldest known chestnut tree in the world, dated between 2000 and 4000 years.

Sicily's sunny, dry climate, scenery, cuisine, history, and architecture attract many tourists from mainland Italy and abroad. The tourist season peaks in the summer months, although people visit the island all year round. Mount Etna, the beaches, the archeological sites, and the two major cities of Catania and Palermo are the favourite tourist destinations, but the old town of Taormina and the neighbouring seaside resort of Giardini Naxos draw visitors from all over the world, as do the Aeolian Islands, Erice, Cefalù, Syracuse, and Agrigento. The latter features some of the best-preserved temples of the ancient Greek period. Many Mediterranean cruise ships stop in Sicily, and many wine tourists also visit the island.
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2 diaries talk about "Sicily"
Il senso del viaggio
Il senso del viaggio
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