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Sicily
Sicilia
Autonomous region of Italy
Flag of Sicily
Flag
Coat of arms of Sicily
Coat of arms
Anthem: Madreterra
Sicily in Italy.svg
Country Italy
Area
 • Total 25,711 km2 (9,927 sq mi)
Population (2017)(8.3% of Italy)
 • Total 5,029,675
 • Density 195.623/km2 (506.662/sq mi)
Demonym(s) English: Sicilian
Italian: Siciliano (man)
Italian: Siciliana (woman)
Citizenship
 • Italian 98%
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
ISO 3166 code IT-82
GDP (nominal) €88.1 billion (2017)
GDP per capita €17,500 (2017)
HDI (2017) 0.836
very high · 21st of 21
NUTS Region ITG
Website http://pti.regione.sicilia.it
Etna-map-bjs
Sicily

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the 20 regions of Italy. It is one of the five Italian autonomous regions, in Southern Italy along with surrounding minor islands, officially referred to as Regione Siciliana.

Sicily is located in the central Mediterranean Sea, south of the Italian Peninsula, from which it is separated by the narrow Strait of Messina. Its most prominent landmark is Mount Etna, the tallest active volcano in Europe, and one of the most active in the world, currently 3,329 m (10,922 ft) high. The island has a typical Mediterranean climate.

The earliest archaeological evidence of human activity on the island dates from as early as 12,000 BC. By around 750 BC, Sicily had three Phoenician and a dozen Greek colonies and it was later the site of the Sicilian Wars and the Punic Wars. After the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, Sicily was ruled during the Early Middle Ages by the Vandals, the Ostrogoths, the Byzantine Empire, and the Emirate of Sicily. The Norman conquest of southern Italy led to the creation of the Kingdom of Sicily, which was subsequently ruled by the Hohenstaufen, the Capetian House of Anjou, Spain, and the House of Habsburg. It was unified under the House of Bourbon with the Kingdom of Naples as the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. It became part of Italy in 1860 following the Expedition of the Thousand, a revolt led by Giuseppe Garibaldi during the Italian unification, and a plebiscite. Sicily was given special status as an autonomous region on 15 May 1946, 18 days before the Italian constitutional referendum of 1946. However, much of the autonomy still remains unapplied, especially financial autonomy, because the autonomy-activating laws have been deferred to be approved by the joint committee (50% Italian State, 50% Regione Siciliana), since 1946.

Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature, cuisine, and architecture. It is also home to important archaeological and ancient sites, such as the Necropolis of Pantalica, the Valley of the Temples, Erice and Selinunte.

Geography

Sicily
Geography
Location Mediterranean Sea
Area 25,426 km2 (9,817 sq mi)
Elevation 3,326 m (10,912 ft)
Country
Italy
Demographics
Population 5,015,569
Density 195/km2 (510/sq mi)
Sicilia2 Excurson 5 7-3-2007
Sicilian landscape

Sicily has a roughly triangular shape, earning it the name Trinacria. To the north-east, it is separated from Calabria and the rest of the Italian mainland by the Strait of Messina, about 3 km (1.9 mi) wide in the north, and about 16 km (9.9 mi) wide in the southern part. The northern and southern coasts are each about 280 km (170 mi) long measured as a straight line, while the eastern coast measures around 180 km (110 mi); total coast length is estimated at 1,484 km (922 mi). The total area of the island is 25,711 km2 (9,927 sq mi), while the Autonomous Region of Sicily (which includes smaller surrounding islands) has an area of 27,708 km2 (10,698 sq mi).

The Sphinx rocca salvatesta over fondachelli, sicily
The Rocca Salvatesta over Fondachelli Fantina, Peloritani mountains

The terrain of inland Sicily is mostly hilly and is intensively cultivated wherever possible. Along the northern coast, the mountain ranges of Madonie, 2,000 m (6,600 ft), Nebrodi, 1,800 m (5,900 ft), and Peloritani, 1,300 m (4,300 ft), are an extension of the mainland Apennines. The cone of Mount Etna dominates the eastern coast. In the southeast lie the lower Hyblaean Mountains, 1,000 m (3,300 ft). The mines of the Enna and Caltanissetta districts were part of a leading sulphur-producing area throughout the 19th century, but have declined since the 1950s.

Sicily and its surrounding small islands have some highly active volcanoes. Mount Etna is the largest active volcano in Europe and still casts black ash over the island with its ever-present eruptions. It currently stands 3,329 metres (10,922 ft) high, though this varies with summit eruptions; the mountain is 21 m (69 ft) lower now than it was in 1981. It is the highest mountain in Italy south of the Alps. Etna covers an area of 1,190 km2 (459 sq mi) with a basal circumference of 140 km (87 mi). This makes it by far the largest of the three active volcanoes in Italy, being about two and a half times the height of the next largest, Mount Vesuvius. In Greek mythology, the deadly monster Typhon was trapped under the mountain by Zeus, the god of the sky. Mount Etna is widely regarded as a cultural symbol and icon of Sicily.

The Aeolian Islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea, to the northeast of mainland Sicily form a volcanic complex, and include Stromboli. The three volcanoes of Vulcano, Vulcanello and Lipari are also currently active, although the latter is usually dormant. Off the southern coast of Sicily, the underwater volcano of Ferdinandea, which is part of the larger Empedocles volcano, last erupted in 1831. It is located between the coast of Agrigento and the island of Pantelleria (which itself is a dormant volcano).

The autonomous region also includes several neighbouring islands: the Aegadian Islands, the Aeolian Islands, Pantelleria and Lampedusa.

Rivers

Papiro-Ciane
View of the Ciane river

The island is drained by several rivers, most of which flow through the central area and enter the sea at the south of the island. The Salso flows through parts of Enna and Caltanissetta before entering the Mediterranean Sea at the port of Licata. To the east, the Alcantara flows through the province of Messina and enters the sea at Giardini Naxos, and the Simeto, which flows into the Ionian Sea south of Catania. Other important rivers on the island are the Belice and Platani in the southwest.

River Length
Salso 144 km (89 mi)
Simeto 113 km (70 mi)
Belice 107 km (66 mi)
Dittaino 105 km (65 mi)
Platani 103 km (64 mi)
Gornalunga 81 km (50 mi)
Gela 74 km (46 mi)
Salso Cimarosa 72 km (45 mi)
Torto 58 km (36 mi)
Irminio 57 km (35 mi)
Dirillo 54 km (34 mi)
Verdura 53 km (33 mi)
Alcantara 52 km (32 mi)
Tellaro 45 km (28 mi)
Anapo 40 km (25 mi)

Climate

Veduta-Vallone-Caltanissetta
Caltanissetta

Sicily has a typical Mediterranean climate with mild and wet winters and hot, dry summers with very changeable intermediate seasons. On the coasts, especially in the south-west, the climate is affected by the African currents and summers can be scorching.

Sicily is seen as an island of warm winters.

Snow falls above 900–1000 metres, but it can fall in the hills. The interior mountains, especially Nebrodi, Madonie and Etna, enjoy a fully mountain climate, with heavy snowfalls during winter. The summit of Mount Etna is usually snow capped from October to May.

On the other hand, especially in the summer it is not unusual that there is the sirocco, the wind from the Sahara. Rainfall is scarce, and water proves deficient in some provinces where a water crisis can happen occasionally.

According to the Regional Agency for Waste and Water, on 10 August 1999, the weather station of Catenanuova (EN) recorded a maximum temperature of 48.5 °C (119 °F). The official European record – measured by minimum/maximum thermometers – is held by Athens, Greece, which reported a maximum of 48.0 °C (118 °F) in 1977. Total precipitation is highly variable, generally increasing with elevation. In general, the southern and southeast coast receives the least rainfall (less than 50 cm (20 in)), and the northern and northeastern highlands the most (over 100 cm (39 in)).

Flora and fauna

Zingaro 063
Zingaro Natural Reserve

Sicily is an often-quoted example of man-made deforestation, which has occurred since Roman times, when the island was turned into an agricultural region. This gradually dried the climate, leading to a decline in rainfall and the drying of rivers. The central and southwest provinces are practically devoid of any forest. In Northern Sicily, there are three important forests; near Mount Etna, in the Nebrodi Mountains and in the Bosco della Ficuzza's Natural Reserve near Palermo. The Nebrodi Mountains Regional Park, established on 4 August 1993 and covering 86,000 hectares (210,000 acres), is the largest protected natural area of Sicily; and contains the largest forest in Sicily, the Caronia. The Hundred Horse Chestnut (Castagno dei Cento Cavalli), in Sant'Alfio, on the eastern slopes of Mount Etna, is the largest and oldest known chestnut tree in the world at 2,000 – 4,000 years old.

Sicily has a wide variety of fauna. Species include fox, least weasel, pine marten, roe deer, wild boar, crested porcupine, hedgehog, common toad, Vipera aspis, golden eagle, peregrine falcon, hoopoe and black-winged stilt.

The Zingaro Natural Reserve is one of the best examples of unspoiled coastal wilderness in Sicily.

Surrounding waters including the Strait of Messina are home to varieties of birds and marine life, including larger species such as flamingos and fin whales.

Demographics

Palermo02 flickr
The city of Palermo in 2005
Along the island of ortigia
Syracuse view from the seafront of Ortigia, to the Maniace Castle.

Sicily is a melting pot of a variety of different cultures and ethnicities, including the original Italic people, the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Swabians, Aragonese, Lombards, Spaniards, French, and Albanians, each contributing to the island's culture and genetic makeup. About five million people live in Sicily, making it the fourth most populated region in Italy.

Largest cities

The following table shows the ten largest cities of Sicily:

Pos. Name Pop.
2017
Area
(km2)
Pop.
per km2
1 Palermo 668,405 159 4,207
2 Catania 311,620 181 1,723
3 Messina 234,293 212 1,107
4 Syracuse 121,605 204 596
5 Marsala 82,802 242 343
6 Gela 74,858 277 270
7 Ragusa 73,638 442 166
8 Trapani 67,923 272 250
9 Vittoria 64,212 181 354
10 Caltanissetta 62,317 416 150

Economy

Olives (9520845387)
Olive groves

Agriculture

Buffa Vergine Marsala Wine
A sample of Marsala, a DOC wine produced in the city of Marsala

Sicily has long been noted for its fertile soil due to volcanic eruptions. The local agriculture is also helped by the pleasant climate of the island. The main agricultural products are wheat, citrons, oranges (Arancia Rossa di Sicilia IGP), lemons, tomatoes (Pomodoro di Pachino IGP), olives, olive oil, artichokes, prickly pear (Fico d'India dell'Etna DOP), almonds, grapes, pistachios (Pistacchio di Bronte DOP) and wine. Cattle and sheep are raised. The cheese productions are particularly important thanks to the Ragusano DOP and the Pecorino Siciliano DOP. Ragusa is noted for its honey (Miele Ibleo) and chocolate (Cioccolato di Modica IGP) productions.

Sicily is the third largest wine producer in Italy (the world's largest wine producer) after Veneto and Emilia Romagna. The region is known mainly for fortified Marsala wines. In recent decades the wine industry has improved, new winemakers are experimenting with less-known native varietals, and Sicilian wines have become better known. The best known local varietal is Nero d'Avola, named for a small town not far from Syracuse; the best wines made with these grapes come from Noto, a famous old city close to Avola. Other important native varietals are Nerello Mascalese used to make the Etna Rosso DOC wine, Frappato that is a component of the Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG wine, Moscato di Pantelleria (also known as Zibibbo) used to make different Pantelleria wines, Malvasia di Lipari used for the Malvasia di Lipari DOC wine and Catarratto mostly used to make the white wine Alcamo DOC. Furthermore, in Sicily high quality wines are also produced using non-native varietals like Syrah, Chardonnay and Merlot.

Sicily is also known for its liqueurs, such as the Amaro Averna produced in Caltanissetta and the local limoncello.

Fishing is another fundamental resource for Sicily. There are important tuna, sardine, swordfish and European anchovy fisheries. Mazara del Vallo is the largest fishing centre in Sicily and one of the most important in Italy.

Industry and manufacturing

Palermo-Harbour-bjs-3
Palermo shipyards
TrivelleRagusaS1
Oilfields near Ragusa

Improvements in Sicily's road system have helped to promote industrial development. The region has three important industrial districts:

  • Catania Industrial District, where there are several food industries and one of the best European electronics industry centres called Etna Valley (in honour of the best known Silicon Valley) which contains offices and factories of international companies such as STMicroelectronics and Numonyx;
  • Syracuse Petrochemical District with chemical industries, oil refineries and important power stations (as the innovative Archimede combined cycle power plant);
  • the latest Enna Industrial District in which there are food industries.

In Palermo there are important shipyards (such as Fincantieri), mechanical factories of famous Italian companies as Ansaldo Breda, publishing and textile industries. Chemical industries are also in the Province of Messina (Milazzo) and in the Province of Caltanissetta (Gela). There are petroleum, natural gas and asphalt fields in the Southeast (mostly near Ragusa) and massive deposits of halite in Central Sicily. The Province of Trapani is one of the largest sea salt producers in Italy.

Transport

Roads

Autostrada A20 Torregrotta
The A20 Messina-Palermo motorway near Torregrotta
Alstom Cityway Tram Messina 06T
Messina tramway system

Highways have been built and expanded in the last four decades. The most prominent Sicilian roads are the motorways (known as autostrade) in the north of the island. Much of the motorway network is elevated on pillars due to the island's mountainous terrain.

Railways

Punta Raisi staz ferr treni
Two trains inside Punta Raisi railway station within Palermo International Airport
Palermo Tramway System Map
Palermo, AMAT tramway system map
GiovanniXXIII-metro
Catania Metro

The first railway in Sicily was opened in 1863 (Palermo-Bagheria) and today all of the Sicilian provinces are served by a network of railway services, linking to most major cities and towns; this service is operated by Trenitalia. Of the 1,378 km (856 mi) of railway tracks in use, over 60% has been electrified whilst the remaining 583 km (362 mi) are serviced by diesel engines. 88% of the lines (1.209 km) are single-track and only 169 km (105 mi) are double-track serving the two main routes, Messina-Palermo (Tyrrhenian) and Messina-Catania-Syracuse (Ionian), which are the main lines of this region. Of the narrow-gauge railways the Ferrovia Circumetnea is the only one that still operates, going round Mount Etna. From the major cities of Sicily, there are services to Naples, Rome and Milan; this is achieved by the trains being loaded onto ferries which cross the Strait.

In Catania there is an underground railway service (metropolitana di Catania); in Palermo the national railway operator Trenitalia operates a commuter rail (Palermo metropolitan railway service), the Sicilian Capital is also served by 4 AMAT (Comunal Public Transport Operator) tramlines; Messina is served by a tramline.

Airports

Aeroporto di Catania - Catania Airport
Catania International Airport

Mainland Sicily has several airports which serve numerous Italian and European destinations and some extra-European.

Ports

Archimarina
The port of Catania

By sea, Sicily is served by several ferry routes and cargo ports, and in all major cities, cruise ships dock on a regular basis.

  • Mainland Italy: Ports connecting to the mainland are Messina (route to Villa San Giovanni and Salerno), the busiest passenger port in Italy, Palermo (routes to Genoa, Civitavecchia and Naples) and Catania (route to Naples).
  • Sicily's small surrounding islands: The port of Milazzo serves the Aeolian Islands, the ports of Trapani and Marsala the Aegadian Islands and the port of Porto Empedocle the Pelagie Islands. From Palermo there is a service to the island of Ustica and to Sardinia.
  • International connections: From Palermo and Trapani there are weekly services to Tunisia and there is also a daily service between Malta and Pozzallo.
  • Commercial and cargo ports: The port of Augusta is the fifth-largest cargo port in Italy and handles tonnes of goods. Other major cargo ports are Palermo, Catania, Trapani, Pozzallo and Termini Imerese.
  • Touristic ports: Several ports along the Sicilian coast are in the service of private boats that need to moor on the island. The main ports for this traffic are in Marina di Ragusa, Riposto, Portorosa, Syracuse, Cefalù and Sciacca. In Sicily, Palermo is also a major centre for boat rental, with or without crew, in the Mediterranean.
  • Fishing ports: Like all islands, Sicily also has many fishing ports. The most important is in Mazara del Vallo followed by Castellamare del Golfo, Licata, Scoglitti and Portopalo di Capo Passero.

Tourism

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 archaeological sites, and major cities such as Palermo, Catania, Syracuse and Ragusa 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, Castellammare del Golfo, Cefalù, Agrigento, the Pelagie Islands and Capo d'Orlando. The last 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.

Some scenes of several Hollywood and Cinecittà films were shot in Sicily. This increased the attraction of Sicily as a tourist destination.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Mosaic in Villa Romana del Casale, by Jerzy Strzelecki, 13
One of the mosaics in Villa Romana del Casale

There are seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites on Sicily. By the order of inscription:

  • Valle dei Templi (1997) is one of the most outstanding examples of Greater Greece art and architecture, and is one of the main attractions of Sicily as well as a national monument of Italy. The site is located in Agrigento.
  • Villa Romana del Casale (1997) is a Roman villa built in the first quarter of the 4th century and located about 3 km (2 mi) outside the town of Piazza Armerina. It contains the richest, largest and most complex collection of Roman mosaics in the world.
  • Aeolian Islands (2000) are a volcanic archipelago in the Tyrrhenian Sea, named after the demigod of the winds Aeolus. The Aeolian Islands are a tourist destination in the summer, and attract up to 200,000 visitors annually.
  • Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto (2002) "represent the culmination and final flowering of Baroque art in Europe". It includes several towns: Caltagirone, Militello in Val di Catania, Catania, Modica, Noto, Palazzolo Acreide, Ragusa and Scicli.
  • Necropolis of Pantalica (2005) is a large necropolis in Sicily with over 5,000 tombs dating from the 13th to the 7th centuries BC. Syracuse is notable for its rich Greek history, culture, amphitheatres and architecture. They are situated in south-eastern Sicily.
  • Mount Etna (2013) is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and is in an almost constant state of activity and generated myths, legends and naturalistic observation from Greek, Celts and Roman classic and medieval times.
  • Arab-Norman Palermo and the cathedral churches of Cefalù and Monreale; includes a series of nine civil and religious structures dating from the era of the Norman kingdom of Sicily (1130–1194)
Cathedral of San Giorgio in Modica
Cathedral of San Giorgio in Modica

Tentative Sites

Sicilia Taormina4 tango7174
Taormina's central square at sunset
  • Taormina and Isola Bella;
  • Motya and Libeo Island: The Phoenician-Punic Civilisation in Italy;
  • Scala dei Turchi;
  • Strait of Messina.

Archeological sites

Because many different cultures settled, dominated or invaded the island, Sicily has a huge variety of archaeological sites. Also, some of the most notable and best preserved temples and other structures of the Greek world are located in Sicily.. Here is a short list of the major archaeological sites:

  • Sicels/Sicans/Elymians/Greeks: Segesta, Eryx, Cava Ispica, Thapsos, Pantalica;
  • Greeks: Syracuse, Agrigento, Segesta, Selinunte, Gela, Kamarina, Himera, Megara Hyblaea, Naxos, Heraclea Minoa;
  • Phoenicians: Motya, Soluntum, Marsala, Palermo;
  • Romans: Piazza Armerina, Centuripe, Taormina, Palermo;
  • Arabs: Palermo, Mazara del Vallo.

The excavation and restoration of one of Sicily's best known archaeological sites, the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, was at the direction of the archaeologist Domenico Antonio Lo Faso Pietrasanta, Fifth Duke of Serradifalco, known in archaeological circles simply as "Serradifalco". He also oversaw the restoration of ancient sites at Segesta, Selinunte, Siracusa and Taormina.

Castles

In Sicily there are hundreds of castles, the most relevant are:

CastelloUrsino1CT
Castello Ursino in Catania
Palermo-Zisa-bjs2007-01
Zisa Castle in Palermo
Castello di Alcamo 0024
Castle of the Counts of Modica (Alcamo) in Alcamo
Castello Donnafugata, Ragusa
Castello di Donnafugata near Ragusa
Province Castles Commune
Caltanisetta Castello Manfredonico Mussomeli
U Cannuni Mazzarino
Castelluccio di Gela Gela
Catania Castello Ursino Catania
Castello Normanno Adrano
Castello Normanno Paternò
Castello di Aci Aci Castello
Messina Forte dei Centri Messina
Castello di Milazzo Milazzo
Castello di Sant'Alessio Siculo Sant'Alessio Siculo
Castello di Pentefur Savoca
Castello di Schisò Giardini Naxos
Palermo Zisa, Palermo Palermo
Castello di Caccamo Caccamo
Castello di Carini Carini
Castello dei Ventimiglia Castelbuono
Ragusa Castello di Donnafugata Ragusa
Torre Cabrera Pozzallo
Castello Dei Conti Modica
Syracuse Castello Maniace Syracuse
Trapani Castello di Venere Erice
Castle of the Counts of Modica Alcamo
Castle of Calatubo Alcamo

Coastal towers

The Coastal towers in Sicily (Torri costiere della Sicilia) are 218 old watchtowers along the coast. In Sicily, the first coastal towers date back to 1313 and 1345 of the Aragonese monarchy. From 1360 the threat came from the south, from North Africa to Maghreb, mainly to Barbary pirates and corsairs of Barbary Coast. In 1516, the Turks settled in Algiers, and from 1520, the corsair Hayreddin Barbarossa under the command of Ottoman Empire, operated from that harbour.

Most existing towers were built on architectural designs of the Florentine architect Camillo Camilliani from [1583] to 1584, and involved the coastal periple of Sicily. The typology changed completely in '800, because of the new higher fire volumes of cannon vessels, the towers were built on the type of Martello towers that the British built in the UK and elsewhere in the British Empire. The decline of Mediterranean piracy caused by the Second Barbary War led to a smaller number of coastal towers built during the 19th Century.

Culture

Antonello da Messina - Virgin Annunciate - Galleria Regionale della Sicilia, Palermo
Virgin Annunciate, Antonello da Messina

Sicily has long been associated with the arts; many poets, writers, philosophers, intellectuals, architects and painters have roots on the island. The history of prestige in this field can be traced back to Greek philosopher Archimedes, a Syracuse native who has gone on to become renowned as one of the greatest mathematicians of all time. Gorgias and Empedocles are two other highly noted early Sicilian-Greek philosophers, while the Syracusan Epicharmus is held to be the inventor of comedy.

Art and architecture

Ceramic Art Pottery Agatino Caruso Caltagirone 2
Majolica painting art of Caltagirone
Bruno Caruso in Istanbul
Bruno Caruso

Terracotta ceramics from the island are well known, the art of ceramics on Sicily goes back to the original ancient peoples named the Sicanians, it was then perfected during the period of Greek colonisation and is still prominent and distinct to this day. Nowadays, Caltagirone is one of the most important centres in Sicily for the artistic production of ceramics and terra-cotta sculptures. Famous painters include Renaissance artist Antonello da Messina, Bruno Caruso, Renato Guttuso and Greek born Giorgio de Chirico who is commonly dubbed the "father of Surrealist art" and founder of the metaphysical art movement. The most noted architects are Filippo Juvarra (one of the most important figures of the Italian Baroque) and Ernesto Basile.

Language

Today in Sicily most people are bilingual and speak both Italian and Sicilian, a distinct and historical Romance language. Some of the Sicilian words are loan words from Greek, Catalan, French, Arabic, Spanish and other languages. Dialects related to Sicilian are also spoken in Calabria and Salento; it had a significant influence on the Maltese language. However the use of Sicilian is limited to informal contexts (mostly in family) and in a majority of cases it is replaced by the so-called regional Italian of Sicily, an Italian dialect that is a kind of mix between Italian and Sicilian.

Cuisine

Cannoli siciliani
Cannoli, a popular pastry associated with Sicilian cuisine

The island has a long history of producing a variety of noted cuisines and wines, to the extent that Sicily is sometimes nicknamed God's Kitchen because of this. Every part of Sicily has its speciality (e.g. Cassata is typical of Palermo although available everywhere in Sicily, as is Granita). The ingredients are typically rich in taste while remaining affordable to the general public. The savoury dishes of Sicily are viewed to be healthy, using fresh vegetables and fruits, such as tomatoes, artichokes, olives (including olive oil), citrus, apricots, aubergines, onions, beans, raisins commonly coupled with seafood, freshly caught from the surrounding coastlines, including tuna, sea bream, sea bass, cuttlefish, swordfish, sardines, and others.

Arancini 002
Arancini, rice balls fried in breadcrumbs

The most well-known part of Sicilian cuisine is the rich sweet dishes including ice creams and pastries. Cannoli (singular: cannolo), a tube-shaped shell of fried pastry dough filled with a sweet filling usually containing ricotta, is strongly associated with Sicily worldwide. Biancomangiare, biscotti ennesi (cookies native to Enna), braccilatte (a Sicilian version of doughnuts), buccellato, ciarduna, pignoli, Biscotti Regina, giurgiulena, frutta martorana, cassata, pignolata, granita, cuccidati (a variety of fig cookie; also known as buccellati) and cuccìa are some notable sweet dishes.

Like the cuisine of the rest of southern Italy, pasta plays an important part in Sicilian cuisine, as does rice; for example with arancine. As well as using some other cheeses, Sicily has spawned some of its own, using both cow's and sheep's milk, such as pecorino and caciocavallo. Spices used include saffron, nutmeg, clove, pepper, and cinnamon, which were introduced by the Arabs. Parsley is used abundantly in many dishes. Although Sicilian cuisine is commonly associated with sea food, meat dishes, including goose, lamb, goat, rabbit, and turkey, are also found in Sicily. It was the Normans and Swabians who first introduced a fondness for meat dishes to the island. Some varieties of wine are produced from vines that are relatively unique to the island, such as the Nero d'Avola made near the baroque of town of Noto.

Regional symbols

There are several cultural icons and regional symbols in Sicily, including flags, carts, sights and geographical features.

2009-03-22 03-29 Sizilien 683 Agrigent, Parco Valle dei Templi Agrigento, Museo Archaeologico
Triskelion painted on Ancient Greek vase, Agrigento

The Flag of Sicily, regarded as a regional icon, was first adopted in 1282, after the Sicilian Vespers of Palermo. It is characterised by the presence of the trinacria (triskelion) in its middle, the (winged) head of Medusa and three wheat ears. The three bent legs are supposed to represent the three points of the island Sicily itself. The colours, instead, respectively represent the cities of Palermo and Corleone, at those times an agricultural city of renown. Palermo and Corleone were the first two cities to found a confederation against the Angevin rule. It finally became the official public flag of the Regione Siciliana in January 2000, after the passing of an apposite regional law which advocates its use on public buildings, schools and city halls along with the national Italian flag and the European one.

Familiar as an ancient symbol of the region, the Triskelion is also featured on Greek coins of Syracuse, such as coins of Agathocles (317–289 BC).The symbol dates back to when Sicily was part of Magna Graecia, the colonial extension of Greece beyond the Aegean. The triskelion was revived, as a neoclassic – and non-Bourbon – emblem for the new Napoleonic Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, by Joachim Murat in 1808. Pliny the Elder attributes the origin of the triskelion of Sicily to the triangular form of the island, the ancient Trinacria, which consists of three large capes equidistant from each other, pointing in their respective directions, the names of which were Pelorus, Pachynus, and Lilybæum. The three legs of the triskelion are also reminiscent of Hephaestus's three-legged tables that ran by themselves, as mentioned in Iliad xviii.

Sicilian Cart Agrigento
A traditional Sicilian cart

The Sicilian cart is an ornate, colourful style of horse or donkey-drawn cart native to Sicily. Sicilian wood carver George Petralia states that horses were mostly used in the city and flat plains, while donkeys or mules were more often used in rough terrain for hauling heavy loads. The cart has two wheels and is primarily handmade out of wood with iron components.

The Sicilian coppola is a traditional kind of flat cap typically worn by men in Sicily. First used by English nobles during the late 18th century, the tascu began being used in Sicily in the early 20th century as a driving cap, usually worn by car drivers. The coppola is usually made in tweed. Today it is widely regarded as a definitive symbol of Sicilian heritage.

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