Sicily, italian island
Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and is also, among the Italian regions, the largest and the one further south. The Strait of Messina, about three kilometers wide, separates it from the territory of the peninsula and the Channel of Sicily instead from Africa, from which continent is about 140 kilometers away.
The shape of the island is reminiscent of a triangle, with one of the long sides facing north on the Tyrrhenian Sea and the other on the Channel of Sicily to the south, and the short side to the east than on the Sea.
Since the times of Muslim domination the island has been divided into three large valleys: Val Demone to the north-east, the Val di Noto to the south-east and, to the west, the Val di Mazara. In the territory of Sicily are included numerous smaller islands: in the Tyrrhenian Sea, off the northern coast, the Aeolian island or Lipari and Ustica, to the west the Egadi not far from the coast of Trapani, the Pelagie and Pantelleria in the south Sicilian channel.
The territory of Sicily is occupied for the most part by hills (more than 60% of it), with the rest divided between mountains and plains; the most important plains are the Piana di Gela and the Piana di Catania. The highest peak on the island is that of Mount Etna with its approximately 3340 meters. Etna is one of the three most important volcanoes of the Sicilian territory, together with those of Stromboli and Vulcano.
The coasts of the island extend for about 1637 kilometers, a figure of all respect, to which we must add another 500 kilometers of coasts of the smaller islands. The high and rocky coasts of the northern section of the island overlook, with their numerous gulfs, the Tyrrhenian Sea. The eastern or Ionian coast, on the other hand, presents a greater variety in the landscape
with its pebble beaches, various inlets and rugged cliffs. On the southern side, the coastal territory is characterized mostly by a sandy and low coast and in this area there is the largest gulf of the whole Sicily, the Gulf of Gela.
As for the rivers, the Sicilian ones do not stand out particularly in terms of size and scope; the two that reach remarkable dimensions are the Salso and the Simeto. Regarding the few lakes are those of natural origin, and among these we note the Specchio Lago di Venere in Pantelleria and that of Pergusa.
The Sicilian territory is composed of the main island and a number of smaller islands and archipelagos for a total of 19 inhabited islands.
The Aeolian archipelago consists of seven main islands which are Lipari, Vulcano, Alicudi, Filicudi, Salina, Stromboli, Panarea as well as many smaller rocks such as Basiluzzo and Strombolicchio. As far as the administration is concerned, they are part of the city of Messina. The territory of the island of Ustica is part of the area of Palermo and is located about 60 km from the capital.
The Egadi islands, which form another archipelago, lie beyond the western end of Sicily, in the province of Trapani; these are three major islands such as Favignana, Levanzo and Marettimo and minor ones such as Formica and Maraone. Also Pantelleria is located in the province of Trapani even if it is more than 100 km away from the Sicilian coast and instead only 70 km from the Tunisian coast.
The Pelagie islands are those that are located at a greater distance from the Sicilian coasts and are part of the territory of the city of Agrigento. Lampedusa is part of this archipelago; it’s more than 200 km from Sicily and is considered the main island of this archipelago. There are also the smaller Linosa and the Lampione rock.
The history of Sicily, the largest of the Mediterranean islands both in terms of surface and number of inhabitants, has been influenced by the many ethnic groups that have landed on its territory. Its geographical position has given it an extremely important role in the affairs of the Mediterranean peoples.
This flow of different civilizations has made Sicily rich in urban settlements, monuments and countless vestiges that make this island a privileged place, where you can relive history through the remains of those cultures that have influenced it and that time does not has scratched, passing them down to the present day. The history of Sicily also includes the historical events of its other islands such as the Aeolian, Egadi, Pelagie, Pantelleria and Ustica.
Sicily has known a flourishing prehistory thanks to populations coming from the Middle East and northern Europe, which have grafted exotic and heterogeneous cultures such as those of Stentinello, Matrensa, Serraferlicchio from the east, the bell-shaped glass and the dolmens from the north-west: these last two cultures characterized the end of the copper age and the beginning of the bronze age (2200-1900 BC). To the Sicily of the Sicans and the Sicilians, the Elimi were added in the western part and in protohistoric age, and always in this part they were founded by the Phoenicians colonies, or better still emporia (places used for the unloading, the deposit and the sale of merchandise), which made this land even more appealing thanks to the thriving businesses that were woven throughout the Mediterranean basin. From the second half of the VIII century BC, was the turn of the Greek colonies, whose inhabitants called themselves Siceliots and made this region really great.
In Sicily, the period of Phoenician domination began before the eighth century BC, when the three emporium towns were created in the west of the island, and ended 241 BC, when the Romans defeated the Phoenicians during the first Punic War. The time frame in which part of the island was ruled by Carthage is called “Punic“.
The Phoenicians had a thorough knowledge of the Sicilian coasts and of the smaller nearby islands and traded with the people of those places. When numerous Greek colonies began to arrive in Sicily the Phoenicians decided that it was better to create stable and defensible settlements. Thus they founded Mozia first in the west of Sicily, situated opposite Carthage and subsequently Solunto and Panormos.
The history of Greek-dominated Sicily began, by convention, around the middle of the eighth century B.C. The attempt to maintain total domination on the island ended around 276 BC when the king of Epirus, Pirro, was driven from the island.
The first colonies were founded in the eastern part of Sicily, and then continued in the south-eastern and southern areas.
According to the Greek historian Thucydides, the first Greek colonies in Sicily were founded by aristocrats excluded from their cities of origin following the internal clashes that followed the Trojan war. The favored strategy was the commercial one, in fact the first settlements were all on the coast, leading to one of the most important trade routes of that era.
The 6th century BC was a period of great prosperity and population growth for Sicily, but, at the same time, a period of social conflicts both in the cities and between local populations and the Siceliots. Some individuals took advantage of all this and decided to take power by implementing expansionary policies and using despotic and even brutal methods. It was the beginning of the tyrant period. The dominion of these men, some of whom were defined by Diodorus Siculus as violent murderers, ended due to revolts motivated perhaps precisely by the despotic manner in which they ruled or, as others suggest, by internal struggles within the families that had the power. After several decades of clashes throughout the territory came the period of Dionysius the Elder who slowly took power and ruled over all of Sicily. He was succeeded by his son, Dionysus the young, who however could not live up to his father and became involved in various struggles that weakened the kingdom of Syracuse.
Later it was the time of another prominent figure, Timoleon, who conquered the whole island with a six-year military campaign. His battles led to the restoration of democracy in Syracuse which, together with the rest of the island, experienced a new period of prosperity and development. After the withdrawal of Timoleonte there was an alternation of periods of instability and others of prosperity, between wars between families of oligarchs and others between the different cities. At this point came the reign of Agathocles who, with skilful maneuvers and optimal alliances, proclaimed himself king of Sicily, and extended his kingdom to the territory of the peninsula. He was assassinated when he was 72, due to family rivalry on succession issues. His death was followed by anarchy and struggles that quickly dissolved all that was won by the former king.
Among the many struggles that followed the Agathocle kingdom is the one between the Syracusans and the Mamertines, a mercenary group from the peninsula. They, after having settled in Messina following an agreement with their adversaries, were driven away by Pirro, king of the Molossi, who arrived in Sicily after the requests for help from the cities of the region. Pirro also cleaned the island from the Carthaginians before leaving Sicily.
Later came the reign of Hieron II, who ruled over Syracuse and practically all of eastern Sicily. He governed differently from his predecessors, focusing on political and economic agreements and abandoning any expansionist ambitions. His most important agreement, perhaps, was the one he had with Rome, which allowed the king to keep his dominion out of the first Punic war.
Sicily became part of the territory ruled by Rome immediately after the first Punic war, which saw the victory of the Romans over the Carthaginians. It became the first territory conquered by the Romans outside the Italian peninsula. Sicily underwent various administrative restructurings during the rule of the Romans and the cities of the northern and eastern cost knew a considerable period of flowering.
Under the emperor Augustus Sicily was entrusted to the leadership of a proconsul but remained a public province. For a long time it remained a unique province untill it was included in the diocese of suburbicarian Italy.
The island experienced a period of peace until 429 when the Vandal invasions began; they conquered it permanently only in 468.
The saying according to which Sicily was the granary of the republic, supported by Cato the Censor, remains famous.
The most representative cities of this era were Agrigentum, Catana (Catania), Centuripe, Depranum (Trapani), Lilybaeum (Marsala), Messana (Messina), Panormo (Palermo), Syracusae (Siracusa), Tauromenion (Taormina), Thermai Himeraiai (Termini Imerese), Tindari.
Gothic and Byzantine period
After the fall of the western Roman empire, it was Odoacre who obtained the restitution of Sicily by Genseric and his vandals who took possession of them around the middle of the fifth century; Odoacre had to pay a refund fee. From 493 the king of the Ostrogoths, Theodoric, maintained the possession of the island without having to pay any tribute.
The Goths did not create settlements in Sicily, limiting themselves to remain in the domains of the Roman landowners, and this made easier the sudden submission to the general of the empire, Belisario, who landed on the spot in 535 AD
Sicily remained dominated by the Byzantines for three centuries, not being part of either the African or the Italian circumscription, but remaining directly dependent on Constantinople, as if it were an imperial domain. The Roman church had a notable influence in the Sicilian territories in that period since it maintained various possessions that were administered by the rectors sent by direct order of the Pope.
Under the Byzantine rule the Sicilian people became impoverished due to extremely heavy taxation.
Sicily, due to its geographical position, was considered by Muslims, and not only by them, a place of enormous strategic impact from which one could control the entire Mediterranean Sea. For this reason, in the seventh century, they began to plan and implement incursions into the Sicilian territory. Subsequently the weakness and the disintegration of the Byzantine empire gave rise to a discontent in the island’s population so much that it pushed the emperor of the East Costante II to transfer the capital of the empire from Constantinople to Syracuse. This move, however, did not bring the hoped benefits but instead caused a war between those two cities and, finally, the independence of the Sikelia thema.
Eufemio da Messina, a thaumarca of the Sicilian-Byzantine fleet, was the one who had declared independence from Constantinople in 823; he was chased away by the local nobles and then suffered a heavy defeat by the Byzantines and was therefore forced to flee, finding then refuge at the Emir Ziyadat Allah I of Kayrawan. To this emir he asked for help to prepare and implement a landing in Sicily so as to be able to hunt the detested Byzantines; to this request the Muslims immediately agreed, perhaps because they were preparing such a project from the start, and they supplied 70 ships and declared maritime jihad in search of as many volunteers as possible. Eventually Eufemio will be assassinated in Castrogiovanni, during the siege of 828-829. He will later be considered the man who initiated the Islamic domination of Sicily.
The Islamic rule on the island of Sicily began when they landed at Capo Granitola, near Mazzara del Vallo, and ended in 1091 when Noto fell. Several factors contributed to making Islamic domination in the Sicilian territories last for centuries, among these we must certainly mention their very efficient administrative, economic and fiscal system, the facilitation of trade with the settlements in northern Africa and, more generally, with the Islamic ones, the power of their military structures, the fact that the Italian powers were divided and the incapacity of reacting of the various Christian sovereigns.
It was up to the Normans, after settling in the south, to expel the Muslims from Sicily with the approval of the Pope. This enterprise began in 1060 with Roger I of Altavilla who brought it to completion in 1091, and kept the island for himself with the title of count and as a fief of Robert Guiscard. After him came Roger II who unified the continental south with Sicily and then obtained from the Pope the crown and the island as a fiefdom of the Holy See. He chose Cefalù as his royal seat and built the Basilica there as his mausoleum. He was succeeded by his son Guglielmo il Malo, named for the brutality with which he devoted himself to the repression of the rebellions, in particular in Puglia. William the Good, second-born, succeeded his brother and became part of the peace process; when the papacy and the communes found themselves against Barbarossa over the dispute over the kingdom, William the Good sided with the former and signed a truce and peace afterwards.
William II was succeeded by Henry VI, who arrived in that position thanks to an arranged marriage to bring together Normans and the German Empire; a party of opponents, however, proposed the count of Lecce, Tancredi, as successor to the kingdom of Sicily with the approval of the Pope as well. This led to two war expeditions by Henry VI at the end of which he was crowned King of Sicily in Palermo .
After him it was the turn of Frederick II, called Stupor Mundi, who put in place a general reorganization of the kingdom. After him Manfredi and after that Carlo d’Angiò, who received the kingdom directly from the Pope and also resisted an expedition of Corradino of Swabia who was then beheaded in the city of Naples.
The Angevin government generated tremendous discontent among the people of Sicily, mainly because of its fiscal policy. Then there were uprisings silenced with extreme ferocity by extermination of the entire population of some cities, and many nobles were taken away to transfer them to the French themselves. Moreover, Sicily felt itself to be placed in second place compared to Naples, the place where Carlo had the seat of the kingdom. The people didn’t even like the way the French used to treat Sicilian women. In the end all these were the reasons that gave rise to the insurrection of the Sicilian Vespers on March 30, 1282 which was followed by the acclamation of Peter III of Aragon as king of Sicily after his intervention, and the war of the Vespers fought between Angevins and Aragonese.
Frederick III of Aragon kept Sicily under his rule after the Caltabellotta peace, assuming the title of King of Trinacria. After his death the island, which was supposed to return to the Angevins, remained instead to Federico’s son, Pietro. This gave rise to a long war between the two kingdoms, a damaging and inconclusive war.
After him reigned Luigi and Federico III, under whose reign there was the intervention of Luigi di Taranto and his wife Giovanna I of Naples who, for a period of time, ruled over almost all of Sicily. Soon, however, Frederick succeeded in regaining the upper hand and in the end a peace treaty was signed, which made Sicily remain in the hands of the Aragonese.
The island maintained a royal dynasty and its independence until about 1410. From 1377 there were divisions and struggles within Sicily, struggles that saw the Aragonese opposed to the powerful Chiaramonte barons who led a Sicilian faction. After the death of the last members of the Aragonese family, Sicily experienced a period of confusion which was followed by the coronation, recognized by both factions, of Ferdinand I of Aragon, son of the sister of Martin the Elder. The two kingdoms of Aragon and Sicily were thus reunited and the island ended up losing its independence.
The first Aragonese kings in Sicily issued a number of laws to defend the people against fiscal or feudal abuses, and it was they who constituted the parliament, which consisted of deputies from the royal, noble and clergy cities who had the right to deliberate on peace and war, to cast a vote on taxes and to monitor the work of public officials. To curb the nobility, the Aragonese kings favored municipal liberties, but this was not enough and the feudal lords continued to accumulate more and more power. The island then sank in a period of decline.
Alfonso of Aragon then bought Naples in 1442, but this reunion lasted only until his death, when Sicily together with Aragon passed to his brother Giovanni II while Naples was left in inheritance to Ferdinando I by Alfonso, after having made him naturalize as his son.
During the period in which it was ruled by the Habsburgs of Spain (Emperor Charles V, Philip II, Philip III, Philip IV, Charles II), Sicily experienced a time of considerable economic, religious, social, demographic and artistic development; it continued for about all the sixteenth century up to the first decades of the seventeenth century, being subsequently involved in the decline and crisis of the Spanish Empire also because of the important general crisis of the seventeenth century and of the marginalization of the Mediterranean economic system in favor of the new system of Atlantic economy.
During the modern Spanish period the number of inhabitants of Sicily doubled and many new towns rose inland. Palermo saw its inhabitants increase from 30 000 to 140 000, and Messina also experienced the same phenomenon, rising from 25 000 to 90 000 inhabitants.
Even the silk and sugar industry experienced a revival in that historical period.
The period of the Spanish government in Sicily has left a mixed balance, in which there are negative traits such as certain unhappy economic choices, social conservatism and exaggerated fiscalism; however, these problems were found throughout all the Spanish society of that period and not only in the Sicilian domain. The positive things are certainly not lacking, the most important of which was having a period of peace some centuries long due to the fact of being part of a great power.
The period of strong crisis of the seventeenth century, with discontent and social tensions throughout the European territory, experienced a series of revolts that also involved Sicily, particularly in the cities of Palermo and Messina. After the death of the last king of the Habsburgs of Spain a war of succession broke out that lasted for years and at the end of which Sicily found itself with no more ties to that kingdom. After the peace of Utrecht Vittorio Amedeo II of Savoy obtained for himself the Kingdom of Sicily and ruled it for five years.
Age of the Bourbons
Don Carlos, of the new dynasty of the Spanish Bourbons, in 1734 completed a victorious expedition in Sicily and became a new independent king, although very politically linked to Spain. It was then Ferdinand III, under the strong pressure of England, the one who had to grant to Sicily in 1812 a new constitution, similar to the English one, with two chambers, that of the Peers and that of the Municipalities. As soon as the king was sure of his return to the throne of Naples, he issued some decrees with which he ordered the suppression of the parliament and, with that of 8 December 1816, that the two kingdoms were tto be reunited to form the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
After this there were other decrees that served to abolish all freedom and autonomy of the Sicilian island; those decrees aroused in the population a feeling of opposition which led to the uprising of 1820, which took place shortly after a similar one erupted in Naples. The demands for independence formulated by the Sicilians, however, did not find listening even in the new Neapolitan parliament which instead prepared the ground for an expedition to annihilate the rebellion.
The rulers who followed, particularly Ferdinand II who reigned in 1830, tried to show themselves more open to the Sicilian people, showing they wanted to use new methods to solve the island’s problems. This was not enough to stop the numerous revolutionary movements that broke out in the various cities.
It was at that moment that Sicily began to hope to be able to obtain independence from Ferdinand II, but after the clear refusal of the King, the parliament declared the Bourbon dynasty disgraced, temporarily transferring the regency to Ruggero Settimo, and then choosing as new King Alberto Amedeo di Savoia, Duke of Genoa and son of Carlo Alberto. Ferdinand II did not stay back and watch, he tried instead to reconquer the island, which in the meantime had not found allies for his own cause, and led a campaign that saw Messina and Palermo fall first, the latter on May 15th 1849.
Unnification of Italy
On April 4, 1860 the revolt broke out headed by Francesco Riso and promptly quelled by the Bourbon troops. However, this rebellion had shown Garibaldi that Sicily was ready to fight and therefore ready to receive the expedition that the general had been preparing for some time now. Garibaldi’s campaign in Sicily was brief, more than one would have expected: he assumed the dictatorship of Sicily in the name of King Vittorio Emanuele II on 14 May; only the next day he won a victory against his enemies in Calatafimi, paving the way to Palermo where he arrived on May 27th. Subsequently, already on June 2, it gave form to a government led by Crispi. The completion of the conquest of Sicily came with the battle of Milazzo after which the expedition continued on the peninsula. With the plebiscite of October 21, the period of the Garibaldi government ended and the island became part of the Kingdom of Italy.
The unification, however, created discontent in some sections of the population, giving life, among other things, to the phenomenon of brigandage, with which they tried to rebel against the constituted government. This situation led to the revolt of Palermo, known as the revolt of “Sette e mezzo”(seven and a half), which saw the rebels hold the city for seven days, until the arrival of General Cadorna who finally succeeded in suppressing it.
Subsequently the conditions of the island worsened due to the laws on the economy imposed by the central government, which favored the northern economy. Even the end of economic relations with France and the occupation by the army of agricultural land exacerbated the situation, leading to moments of tension that resulted in violence as in Caltavuturo, where the military fired on the peasants killing 1. Meanwhile socialist propaganda had crept into the island, and many groups of workers had formed. The response of the Crispi government was violence: it decreed the state of siege, suspended the groups of workers and freedom of the press and sent the arrested to the military courts. In the decade of Giolitti the situation continued to deteriorate due to industrial protectionism.
Fascism also prevailed in Sicily following the First World War, but the regime did not solve the island’s problems at all, least of all that of the mafia which also it claimed to have eliminated through the intervention of Cesare Mori. At the end of the second world war the Allies handed over Sicily to the government of the Southern Kingdom and in 1946, by royal decree, the Sicilian Region was established, to which was granted the special statute of autonomy. The first Sicilian parliament was then elected in 1947; the parliament then elected the first regional governor on May 30 in Palermo.
Movements for Independence
In 1800 there were various groups of revolutionaries in Sicily, movements that sought the independence of the island and of which we have spoken in the preceding paragraphs.
This movement in favor of an independent Sicily was reborn after the First World War, but it soon disappeared with fascism. After the landing of the allies, the idea of a separate Sicily gained strength and the MIS led by Andrea Finocchiaro Aprile, along with the armed wing of the movement and other minors, was formed at that time. After the compromise reached with the establishment of the autonomous region this kind of movement in Sicily lost more and more strength and the same MIS disappeared after the 1951 elections. Other movements reappeared over time but remained very small and little relevance.
Foreign minorities and ethnic groups
According to 2016 data, Sicily has 183,192 foreigners and the most numerous are Romanians with 51.000+ units, followed by 19.000+ Tunisians, 14.000+ Moroccans and 13.000+ from Sri Lanka. Other communities are present but with numbers less than 10.000 units.
Called “Sicilian Region“, the island is a region with a special statute whose legislative body is the Sicilian Regional Assembly and the executive one is formed instead by the president of the Sicilian Region and the Regional Council, which is made up of 12 regional councilors.
The autonomy of the Sicilian region has always been a political topic, used in particular in the past to take strength from the post-war separatist movements.
The Sicilian Regional Assembly was elected for the first time in May 1947. The seat of the Sicilian parliament, born in 1130 and considered the oldest in Europe, is Palermo, inside the Palazzo dei Normanni.
Region with a special statute
By virtue of the autonomous statute, the Region maintains exclusive competence on some matters including fishing, agriculture, cultural heritage, tourism and others; this means that the laws of the state have no force in the region regarding these matters.
As for taxes, what is collected in Sicily should remain totally in the coffers of the Region and to this should be added every year other money coming from the state in a quantity defined according to a five-year plan, as established by article 38 of the regional statute.
The flag of the Sicilian Region, as well as its coat of arms, are colored yellow in one half and red in the other, with the division of colors that occurs diagonally; at the center of the flag are the triskelion and the gorgoneion. Its first use occurred in 1282 during the Revolution of the Vespers by the Sicilians who with it wanted to symbolize the unity of Sicily that the Angevins fought.
The banner instead, adopted in 1990, is formed by a shield in which we find the Swabian, Aragonese and Norman coats of arms along with the triskelion, all placed on a blue background in turn placed on a shield divided into quarters with yellow and red colors.
One of the main economic resources of Sicily has always been and is still today agriculture which, thanks to the particular position of the island and its climate, boasts productions of great quality and variety.
Certainly, mention should be made of the production of cereals which earned the island the status of Rome’s granary at the time of the Romans; one of the productions that stand out most is that of durum wheat, an indispensable element in the production of the finest quality pasta.
Another typical cultivation is that of olives which give the possibility of producing excellent quality oil.
Sicily is also famous for the cultivation of citrus fruits including oranges, mandarins, lemons, mandarancins, cedars, bergamots and grapefruits. Not to mention, with regard to island fruit growing, the production of watermelons, medlars, prickly pears, plum trees and khaki which give rise to specific famous local productions such as Misilmeri kaki, Syracuse watermelon and medlar fruit Trabia.
However, vegetables such as aubergines, tomatoes, courgettes and peppers have always been the basis of regional agriculture; even among these crops there are prominent products such as the refined Pachino tomatoes. Legumes are also present among the products grown on the Sicilian territory, some of which are typical such as carob and lupine.
The territory of Niscemi and that of Cerda are then among the major European producers of artichokes.
Hazelnuts, almonds and pistachios (famous ones from Bronte), stand out among the dried fruit. Also excellent wines, both red and white, are produced in Sicily and are increasingly appreciated both in Italy and in the rest of the world.
As for the breeding, on the island there are horses, sheep and goats and, to a lesser extent, also cattle.
Regarding fishing, we must say that it is very developed in Sicily, so much so that the fleet of boats used for this purpose forms 33% of the entire fishing fleet in Italy. Among the many ports that swarm with fishermen the most important is the port of Mazzara del Vallo.
Tuna, anchovies, sardines and mackerel are among the most fished fish along with swordfish.
Sicily is not industrialized at the same level as northern Italy but still has a considerable industrial sector, due to the presence of the largest factories in the south and many industrial districts such as Augusta, Milazzo, Syracuse and Enna. Catania instead presents three large industrial districts that deal with almost all sectors.
Another sector that deserves a mention is that of oil extraction, in particular from the wells of Ragusa and some platforms off the southern coast. We should also mention the extraction of the Perlato di Sicilia, which makes the Custonaci area a marble basin among the most famous in Italy.
Tourism is a growing industry thanks to the many archaeological sites such as Selinunte, Segesta, Valle dei Templi, Villa del Casale and Morgantina, and thanks to the wealth of natural and artistic beauties that attract visitors from all over the world.
In addition to the important cultural tourism that develops around the cities of art and the aforementioned archaeological sites, the seaside tourism that is pushed by the coasts of the island, known for its beaches and landscapes of great variety, and by the smaller islands is also very important. , a favorite destination for many tourists.
Sicily is in tenth place in the top ten of tourist arrivals in Italy, with 3.9% of national arrivals.
Protected Natural Areas
On the island there are a national park, numerous nature reserves and five regional parks; overall 10.5% of the region’s territory is reserved for protected areas.
We have the National Park of the Island of Pantelleria.
The regional parks are those of Monti Sicani, Nebrodi, Etna, Madonie and Alcantara.
The Sicilian region has various highways that serve as a link between the major cities in the area. Among these we can mention the A18 Messina-Catania, the A19 Palermo-Catania, the A20 Messina-Palermo, the A29 Palermo-Mazzara del Vallo.
The main services of the Sicilian railway network are provided by Trenitalia and the lines are of the normal gauge RFI type. The tracks of the Sicilian lines are obsolete and the services are not adequate to the mobility needs of the current population. Most of the current lines date back to the early days of the unification of Italy and 85% of the tracks have a single track.
There are 126 ports in Sicily, divided between commercial, industrial and other types of ports.
Regarding air traffic, Sicily is one of the most avant-garde of all regions; this is due to the needs of a region with an ever increasing influx of tourists as well as the fact of being in the center of the Mediterranean.
The most important airports are the Vincenzo Bellini of Catania-Fontanarossa and the Falcone-Borsellino airport of Palermo-Punta Raisi.
In Sicily they have their headquarters and three national newspapers are published such as Il Giornale di Sicilia, the Gazzetta del Sud and La Sicilia. There are various regional TV stations and RAI has a local editorial office which has its main office in Palermo. Then there are numerous online media originating in Sicily.
The cinema in Sicily began in the early twentieth century and saw the rise of important filmmakers and production companies, as well as known cinematographic works; the island has often also been the set of many national and international works.
Regarding literature, the Sicilian language has had high level productions over time thanks to poets of high stature such as Mario Rapisardi, Domenico Tempio, Ignazio Buttitta and Giovanni Meli, or to writers such as Andrea Camilleri and Gesualdo Bufalino and playwrights such as Nino Martoglio, Luigi Pirandello, Luigi Capuana and Pier Maria Rosso. To remember certainly novelists like Giovanni Verga, Federico de Roberto, Leonardo Sciascia, Salvatore Quasimodo and Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa.
As for the gastronomic culture, the articulated and complex Sicilian cuisine shows contaminations derived from all the cultures that, over the centuries, have resided on the island. A list of all the typical products would be endless since each area and often each municipality has its own. We can remember the Sicilian granita, an internationally known product, the arancine (so called in the Palermo area, arancini instead in the area of Catania), the Palermo panelle and crocché or the bread with the spleen (pani ca meusa in local dialect), the sfincione and the stigghiola.
Many recipes are then tied to aubergines, among these we have caponata, parmigiana and pasta alla norma. Typical of the Trapani area is the couscous which is fish based here. Among the desserts one cannot fail to mention the cassata, classic and baked, and the Sicilian cannoli.
The University of Catania, once called Siciliae Studium Generale, is the first sort in Sicily as far back as 1434, sponsored at the time by Alfonso V of Aragon. The University of Messina dates back to 1548 while that of Palermo is of more recent foundation, 1805.
The Sicilian university is not of a high standard, thus concludes the various studies carried out over the years that indicate a lack of services and facilities and more. The highest level faculty seems to be that of the Education Sciences of Palermo, which ranked sixth nationally.
The Sicilian Baroque has origins after the earthquake that in 1693 devastated Val di Noto. The particular signs of this style, in addition to curved lines and baroque decorations, are the putti and grinning masks, with their gaudy appearance. The style was then replaced by neoclassicism.