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Flag Coat of arms

Coat of arms of Sicily
Map of Italy, location of Sicily highlighted
Time zone CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
Country Italy
Provinces Agrigento, Caltanissetta, Catania, Enna, Messina, Palermo, Ragusa, Syracuse, Trapani
Capital Palermo
President Raffaele Lombardo (MpA)
Governing party MpA
Basic statistics
Area  25,708 km² (9,926 sq mi)
(Ranked 1st, 8.5 %)
Population 5,036,666 (10/2008)
(Ranked 4th, 8.4 %)
 - Density 196 /km² (507 /sq mi)
Other information
GDP/ Nominal € 83 billion (2006)
GDP per capita € 16,532 (2006)
(Ranked 18th)

Sicily (Italian and Sicilian: Sicilia) is an autonomous region of Italy. Of all the regions of Italy, Sicily covers the largest land area at 25,708 km² and currently has just over five million inhabitants. It is also the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. In addition, several much smaller islands surrounding it are also considered to be part of Sicily. Along with Sardinia, the island is officially classified as a region of Insular Italy.

Throughout much of its history, Sicily has been considered a crucial strategic location due in large part to its importance for Mediterranean trade routes.[1] The area was highly regarded as part of Magna Graecia, with Cicero describing Siracusa as the greatest and most beautiful city of all Ancient Greece.[2]

Although today Sicily is a region of Italy, the island was once a city-state in its own right, and as the Kingdom of Sicily ruled from Palermo over southern Italy, Sicily, and Malta. It later became a part of the Two Sicilies under the Bourbons, a kingdom governed from Naples that comprised both the island itself and most of Southern Italy. The Italian unification of 1860 led to the dissolution of this kingdom, and Sicily became an autonomous part of the Kingdom of Italy.

Sicily has its own unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, cuisine, architecture and language. The Sicilian economy is largely based on agriculture (mainly orange and lemon orchards); this same rural countryside has attracted significant tourism in the modern age as its natural beauty is highly regarded.[3] Sicily also holds importance for archeological and ancient sites such as the Necropolis of Pantalica and the Valley of the Temples.


[edit] Geography

Mount Etna in the winter. The largest active volcano in Europe, it is located in the Province of Catania

Sicily is directly adjacent to the Italian region of Calabria, via the Strait of Messina to the east. The early Roman name for Sicily was Trinacria, alluding to its triangular shape. Sicily has been noted for two millennia as a grain-producing territory. Citrons, oranges, lemons, olives, olive oil, almonds, and wine are among its other agricultural products. The mines of the Enna and Caltanissetta district became a leading sulfur-producing area in the 19th century but have declined since the 1950s.

The island of Sicily 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 River flows through parts of Enna and Caltanissetta before entering the Mediterranean Sea at the port of Licata. To the east the Alcantara in the province of Messina, it exits at Giardini Naxos. The other two main rivers on the island are to the south-west with Belice and Platani.

Topography of Sicily.

Sicily and its small surrounding islands are highly significant in the area of volcanology. Mount Etna, located in the east, is the only volcano on mainland Sicily; with a height of 3,320 m (10,900 ft) it is the tallest active volcano in Europe and one of the most active in the world. As well as Etna, there are several non-volcanic mountain ranges in Sicily: Sicani to the west, Eeri in the central area and Hyblaean in the south-east. Across the north of Sicily there are three others: Madonie, Nebrodi and Peloritani.

The Aeolian Islands to the north-east are volcanically significant with Stromboli currently active, also in the Tyrrhenian Sea are the three dormant volcanos of Vulcano, Vulcanello and Lipari. Off the Southern coast of Sicily, the underwater volcano of Ferdinandea, which is part of the larger Empedocles last erupted in 1831. It is located between the coast of Agrigento and the island of Pantelleria (which itself is a dormant volcano), on the Phlegraean Fields of the Strait of Sicily.

[edit] Climate

Sicily's position means that it enjoys a Mediterranean climate with mild to warm, wet winters and warm to hot, dry summers.

 Weather averages for Sicily 
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 15
Average low °C (°F) 10
Precipitation mm (inches) 72
Source: The Sicily Site[4] 2008-02-19

[edit] History

[edit] Ancient tribes

The original inhabitants of Sicily were three defined groups of the Ancient peoples of Italy. The most prominent and by far the earliest of which was the Sicani, who according to Thucydides arrived from the Iberian Peninsula (perhaps Catalonia).[5][6] Important historical evidence has been discovered in the form of cave drawings by the Sicani, dated from the end of the Pleistocene Epoch, around 8000 BC.[7] The arrival of the first humans is correlated with extinction of dwarf hippos and dwarf elephants. The Elymians, thought to be from the Aegean Sea, were the next tribe to migrate to join the Sicanians on Sicily.[8] Although there is no evidence of any wars between the tribes, when the Elymians settled in the north-west corner of the island, the Sicanians moved across eastwards. From mainland Italy, thought to originally have been Ligures from Liguria came the Sicels in 1200 BC; forcing the Sicanians to move back across Sicily settling in the middle of the island.[7]

[edit] Greek and Roman period

Greek temple at Selinunte.

About 750 BC, the Greeks began to colonize Sicily, establishing many important settlements. The most important colony was Syracuse; other significant ones were Akragas, Gela, Himera, Selinunte, and Zancle. The native Sicani and Sicel peoples were absorbed by the Hellenic culture with relative ease, and the area was part of Magna Graecia along with the rest of Southern Italy, which the Greeks had also colonised. Sicily was very fertile, and the introduction of olives and grape vines flourished, creating a great deal of profitable trading;[9] a significant part of Greek culture on the island was that of Greek religion and many temples were built across Sicily, such as the Valley of the Temples at Agrigento.[10] Politics on the island was intertwined with that of Greece; Syracuse became desired by the Athenians, who during Peloponnesian War set out on the Sicilian Expedition. Syracuse gained Sparta and Corinth as allies, as a result the Athenian army and ships were destroyed, with most of the survivors being sold into slavery.[11]

The Roman amphitheatre

While Greek Syracuse controlled much of Sicily, there were a few Carthaginian colonies in the far west of the island. When the two cultures began to clash, the Greek Punic Wars erupted, the longest wars of antiquity.[12] Greece began to make peace with the Roman Republic in 262 BC and the Romans sought to annex Sicily as its empire's first province. Rome intervened in the First Punic War, crushing Carthage so that by 242 BC Sicily had become the first Roman province outside of the Italian Peninsula.[12] The Second Punic War, in which Archimedes was killed, saw Carthage trying to take Sicily from the Roman Empire. They failed and this time Rome was even more unrelenting in the annihilation of the invaders; during 210 BC the Roman consul M. Valerian, told the Roman Senate that "no Carthaginian remains in Sicily".[13]

Sicily served a level of high importance for the Romans as it acted as the empire's granary, it was divided into two quaestorships in the form of Syracuse to the east and Lilybaeum to the west.[14] Although under Augustus some attempt was made to introduce the Latin language to the island, Sicily was allowed to remain largely Greek in a cultural sense, rather than a complete cultural Romanisation.[14] When Verres became governor of Sicily, the once prosperous and contented people were put into sharp decline, in 70 BC noted figure Cicero condemned the misgovernment of Verres in his oration In Verrem.[15] The island was used as a base of power numerous times, being occupied by slave insurgents during the first and second Servile Wars, and by Sextus Pompey during the Sicilian revolt. Christianity first appeared in Sicily during the years following AD 200; between this time and AD 313 when Constantine the Great finally lifted the prohibition, a significant number of Sicilians became martyrs such as Agatha, Christina, Lucy, Euplius and many more.[16] Christianity grew rapidly in Sicily during the next two centuries. The period of history where Sicily was a Roman province lasted for around 700 years in total.[16]

[edit] Early Middle Ages

Depiction of the Gothic War.

As the Roman Empire was falling apart, a Germanic tribe known as the Vandals took Sicily in AD 440 under the rule of their king Geiseric. The Vandals had already invaded parts of Roman France and Spain, inserting themselves as an important power in western Europe.[17] However, they soon lost these newly acquired possessions to another East Germanic tribe in the form of the Goths.[17] The Ostrogothic conquest of Sicily (and Italy as a whole) under Theodoric the Great began in 488; although the Goths were Germanic, Theodoric sought to revive Roman culture and government and allowed freedom of religion.[18] The Gothic War took place between the Ostrogoths and the Eastern Roman Empire, also known as the Byzantine Empire. Sicily was the first part of Italy to be taken under general Belisarius who was commissioned by Eastern Emperor Justinian I.[19] Sicily was used as a base for the Byzantines to conquer the rest of Italy, with Naples, Rome, Milan and the Ostrogoth capital Ravenna falling within five years.[20] However, a new Ostrogoth king Totila, drove down the Italian peninsula, plundering and conquering Sicily in 550. Totila, in turn, was defeated and killed in the Battle of Taginae by the Byzantine general Narses in 552.[20]

In 535, Emperor Justinian I made Sicily a Byzantine province, and for the second time in Sicilian history, the Greek language became a familiar sound across the island. As the power of the Byzantine Empire waned, Sicily was invaded by the Arab forces of Caliph Uthman in the year 652. By the end of the 7th century they had captured the nearby port city of Carthage, allowing the Arabs to build shipyards and a permanent base from which to make more sustained attacks.[21]

Byzantine Emperor Constans II decided to move from the capital Constantinople to Syracuse in Sicily during 660, the following year he launched an assault from Sicily against the Lombard Duchy of Benevento, which then occupied most of Southern Italy.[22] The rumors that the capital of the empire was to be moved to Syracuse, probably cost Constans his life as he was assassinated in 668.[22] His son Constantine IV succeeded him, a brief usurpation in Sicily by Mezezius being quickly suppressed by the new emperor. Contemporary accounts report that the Greek language was widely spoken on the island during this period.[23]

San Giovanni degli Eremiti, red domes showing elements of Arab architecture.

By 826, Euphemius the commander of the Byzantine fleet of Sicily forced a nun to marry him. Emperor Michael II caught wind of the matter and ordered that general Constantine end the marriage and cut off Euphemius' nose. Euphemius rose up, killed Constantine and then occupied Syracuse; he in turn was defeated and driven out to North Africa.[24] He offered rule of Sicily over to Ziyadat Allah the Aghlabid Emir of Tunisia in return for a place as a general and safety; a Muslim army of Arabs, Berbers, Spaniards (then under Muslim rule), Cretans and Persians was sent.[24] The conquest was a see-saw affair met with much resistance. It took over a century for Byzantine Sicily to be conquered. Syracuse held for a long time, Taormina fell in 902, and all of Sicily was eventually conquered by Arabs in 965.[24]

Historic map of Sicily by Piri Reis

The Arabs initiated land reforms which in turn, increased productivity and encouraged the growth of smallholdings, a dent to the dominance of the landed estates. The Arabs further improved irrigation systems. A description of Palermo was given by Ibn Hawqal, an Arab merchant who visited Sicily in 950. A walled suburb called the Al-Kasr (the palace) is the center of Palermo until today, with the great Friday mosque on the site of the later Roman cathedral. The suburb of Al-Khalisa (Kalsa) contained the Sultan's palace, baths, a mosque, government offices, and a private prison. Ibn Hawqal reckoned 7,000 individual butchers trading in 150 shops.

Throughout this reign, revolts by Byzantine Sicilians continuously occurred, especially in the east, and parts of the island were re-occupied before being quashed. Agricultural items such as oranges, lemons, pistachio and sugar cane were brought to Sicily.[17] As dhimmis, the native Christians were allowed freedom of religion, but had to pay an extra tax to their rulers. However, the Emirate of Sicily began to fragment as intra-dynastic quarreling fractured the Muslim regime.[24] During this time there was also a minor Jewish presence.[25] By the 11th century, mainland southern Italian powers hired Norman merecenaries, who conquered Sicily from the Arabs under Roger I.[24] After taking Apulia and Calabria, he occupied Messina with an army of 700 knights. In 1068, Roger Guiscard and his men defeated the Arabs at Misilmeri, but the most crucial battle was the siege of Palermo, which led to Sicily coming completely under Norman control by 1091.[26]

[edit] Kingdom of Sicily

One of the towers of the Cathedral of Monreale

Palermo continued on as the capital under the Normans. Roger's son, Roger II of Sicily, was ultimately able to raise the status of the island to a kingdom in 1130, along with his other holdings which included the Duchy of Apulia and Calabria and the Maltese Islands.[26][27] During this period the Kingdom of Sicily was prosperous and politically powerful, becoming one of the wealthiest states in all of Europe; even wealthier than England.[28] Significantly, immigrants from Northern Italy and Campania arrived during this period. Linguistically, the island became Latinised. In terms of church, it would become completely Roman Catholic; previously, under the Byzantines, it had been more Eastern Christian.[29]

Depiction of the Sicilian Vespers.

After a century the Norman Hauteville dynasty died out, the last direct descendent and heir of Roger; Constance married Emperor Henry VI.[30] This eventually led to the crown of Sicily been passed on to the Hohenstaufen Dynasty who were Germans from Swabia. Conflict between the Hohenstaufen house and the Papacy, led in 1266 to Pope Innocent IV crowning Angevin Dynasty duke Charles I as the king of both Sicily and Naples.[30] Strong opposition of the French officialdom due to mistreatment and taxation saw the local peoples of Sicily rise up, leading in 1282 to an insurrection known as the War of the Sicilian Vespers, which eventually saw almost the entire French population on the island killed.[30] During the war the Sicilians turned to Peter III, son-in-law of the last Hohenstaufen king, of the Kingdom of Aragon for support after being rejected by the Pope. Peter gained control of Sicily from the French though the French retained control of the Kingdom of Naples. The wars continued until the peace of Caltabellotta in 1302, which saw Peter's son Frederick III recognised as king of the Isle of Sicily, while Charles II was recognised as the king of Naples by Pope Boniface VIII.[30] Sicily was ruled as an independent kingdom by relatives of the kings of Aragon until 1409 and then as part of the Crown of Aragon.[9]

The Spanish Inquisition in 1492 saw Ferdinand II decreeing the expulsion of every single Jew from Sicily.[30] The island was hit by two very serious earthquakes in the east in both 1542 and 1693, just a few years before the latter earthquake the island was struck by a ferocious plague.[30] There were revolts during the 17th century, but these were quelled with significant force especially the revolts of Palermo and Messina.[9] The Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 saw Sicily assigned to the House of Savoy, however this period of rule lasted only seven years as it was exchanged for the island of Sardinia with Emperor Charles VI of the Austrian Habsburg Dynasty.[31]

While the Austrians were concerned with the War of the Polish Succession, a Bourbon prince, Charles from Spain was able to conquer Sicily and Naples.[32] At first Sicily was able to remain as an independent kingdom under personal union, while the Bourbons ruled over both from Naples. However the advent of Napoleon's First French Empire saw Naples taken at the Battle of Campo Tenese and Bonapartist Kings of Naples were instated. Ferdinand III the Bourbon was forced to retreat to Sicily which he was still in complete control of with the help of British naval protection.[33] Following this Sicily joined the Napoleonic Wars, after the wars were won Sicily and Naples formally merged as the Two Sicilies under the Bourbons. Major revolutionary movements occurred in 1820 and 1848 against the Bourbon government with Sicily seeking independence; the second of which, the 1848 revolution was successful and resulted in a period of independence for Sicily.[34]

[edit] Italian unification

After the Expedition of the Thousand led by Giuseppe Garibaldi, Sicily became part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1860 as part of the risorgimento.[35] The conquest started at Marsala and was finally completed with the Siege of Gaeta where the final Bourbons were expelled and Garibaldi announced his dictatorship in the name of Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia. An anti-Savoy revolt pushing for Sicilian independence erupted in 1866 at Palermo: this was quelled brutally by the Italians within just a week.[35][36] The Sicilian (and the wider mezzogiorno) economy collapsed, leading to an unprecedented wave of emigration.[35] Organisations of workers and peasants known as the Fasci Siciliani, who were leftist and separatist groups rose and caused the Italian government to impose martial law again in 1894.[37][38]

The Mafia, a loose confederation of organised crime networks, grew in influence in the late 19th century; the Fascist regime began suppressing them in the 1920s with some success.[35] There was an allied invasion of Sicily during World War II starting on July 10, 1943. The invasion of Sicily was one of the causes of the July 25 crisis; in general the Allied victors were warmly embraced by the Sicilian population.[35] Italy became a Republic in 1946 and as part of the Constitution of Italy, Sicily was one of the five regions given special status as an autonomous region.[39] Both the partial Italian land reform and special funding from the Italian government's Cassa per il Mezzogiorno (Fund for the South) from 1950 to 1984, helped the Sicilian economy improve.[40][41]

[edit] Economy

Sicilian oranges.

Sicily has long been noted for its fertile soil, pleasant climate, and natural beauty. It has a long, hot growing season, but summer droughts are frequent. Agriculture is the chief economic activity but has long been hampered by absentee ownership, primitive methods of cultivation, and inadequate irrigation. The establishment (1950) of the now-defunct Cassa per il Mezzogiorno (Southern Italy Development Fund) by the national government led to land ownership reforms, an increase in the amount of land available for cultivation, and the general development of the island's economy. The Mafia, which is still influential, has hindered governmental efforts to institute reforms in the region, and Sicily continues to have an extremely low per capita income and high unemployment, although many workers have “black,” or unreported, jobs.

The chief agricultural products are wheat, barley, corn, olives, citrus fruit, almonds, wine grapes, and cotton; cattle, mules, donkeys, and sheep are raised. There are important tuna and sardine fisheries. Sicily's manufactures include processed food, chemicals, refined petroleum, fertilizers, textiles, ships, leather goods, wine, and forest products. There are petroleum fields in the southeast, and natural gas and sulfur are also produced. Improvements in Sicily's road system have helped to promote industrial development. The chief ports of the island are Palermo, Catania, and Messina.

[edit] Transportation

The A29, passing through the countryside near Segesta.

[edit] Roads

The most prominent Sicilian roads are the motorways (known as autostrade) running through the northern section of the island. Much of the motorway network is elevated by columns due to the mountainous terrain of the island.[42][43][44][45]

Other main roads in Sicily are the Strade Statali like the SS.113 that connects Trapani to Messina (via Palermo), the SS.114 Messina-Syracuse (via Catania) and the SS.115 Syracuse-Trapani (via Ragusa and Agrigento).

[edit] Railways

The Sicilian railnetwork in 2007.

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 of railway tracks in use over the 60% has been electrified whilst the remaining 583 km are serviced by vehicles running on Diesel engines. The 88% of the lines (1.209 km) are on single-track and only 169 km are on double-track serving the two main routes, the Messina-Palermo (Tyrrhenian) and the Messina-Catania-Syracuse (Ionian). 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 and Rome; this is achieved by the trains being loaded onto ferries which cross to the mainland.[46] In two of the main cities there are underground railway services; these feature in the cities of Palermo and Catania whilst Messina is served by a light rail service.

[edit] Airports

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

[edit] Ports

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

[edit] The Bridge

Plans for a bridge linking Sicily to the mainland have been around since 1865. More recently, plans were developed for a road and rail link to the mainland via the world's longest suspension bridge, the Strait of Messina Bridge. Planning for the project has been started, stopped and re-started over the past few years. But on 6 March 2009, as part of a massive new public works programme, Silvio Berlusconi's government announced that construction of the Messina Bridge would indeed go ahead, pledging EUR 1.3 billion as a contribution to the bridge's total cost, estimated at EUR 6.1 billion.[49] Some have criticised the plans, particularly environmentalist Sicilians, leftists who argue the money should be spent elsewhere, and the local ferry operators.[50][51]

[edit] Demographics

Historical populations
Year Pop.  %±
1861 2,409,000
1871 2,590,000 7.5%
1881 2,933,000 13.2%
1901 3,568,000 21.7%
1911 3,812,000 6.8%
1921 4,223,000 10.8%
1931 3,906,000 −7.5%
1936 4,000,000 2.4%
1951 4,487,000 12.2%
1961 4,721,000 5.2%
1971 4,681,000 −0.8%
1981 4,907,000 4.8%
1991 4,966,000 1.2%
2001 4,969,000 0.1%
2008 (Est.) 5,037,000 1.4%
Source: ISTAT 2001
An elderly Sicilian farmer wearing the stereotypical coppola.

The people of Sicily are often portrayed as very proud of their island, identity and culture and it is not uncommon for people to describe themselves as Sicilian, before the more national description of Italian.[52] Despite the existence of major cities such as Palermo, Catania, Messina and Syracuse, popular stereotypes of Sicilians commonly allude to ruralism, for example the coppola is one of the main symbols of Sicilian identity; it is derived from the flat cap of rural Northern England which arrived in 1800 when Bourbon king Ferdinand I had fled to Sicily and was protected by the British Royal Navy.[53]

Throughout history Sicily has rulers from a variety of different cultures, each of whom has contributed island's culture, particularly in the areas of cuisine and architecture. Sicilian people tend to most closely associate themselves with other southern Italians, with whom they share a common history. Of the ethnicities outside of Italy itself, Sicilians and other southern Italians tend to associate most closely with the Albanians and Greeks, especially due to the Magna Græcia and Greco-Roman cultures. This is exemplified in the saying "una faccia, una razza", meaning "one face, one race", a phrase sometimes use in reference to each other.[54] The island of Sicily itself has a population of approximately five million, and there are an additional ten million people of Sicilian descent around the world, mostly in North America, Argentina, Australia and other European countries. Like the rest of Southern Italy, immigration to the island is very low compared to other regions of Italy because workers tend to head to Northern Italy instead, due to better employment and industrial opportunities. The most recent ISTAT figures show around 74 thousand immigrants out of the total five million population; Tunisians with 14 thousand make up the most immigrants, followed by Moroccans, Sri Lankans,and Eastern Europeans.[55]

[edit] Major settlements

In Sicily there are fifteen cities and towns which have a population level above 50,000 people, these are:

Comune Population (2006 est.)
Palermo 665,434
Catania 300,701
Messina 244,573
Siracusa 123,494
Marsala 82,378
Comune Population (2006 est.)
Gela 77,239
Ragusa 72,419
Trapani 70,635
Vittoria 61,424
Caltanissetta 60,369
Comune Population (2006 est.)
Agrigento 59,158
Bagheria 55,283
Modica 54,008
Acireale 52,830
Mazara del Vallo 51,412

[edit] Government and politics

The politics of Sicily, Italy takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democracy, whereby the President of Regional Government is the head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the Regional Government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Sicilian Regional Assembly.

[edit] Administrative divisions

Administratively Sicily is divided into nine provinces. Also part of various Sicilian provinces are small surrounding islands: Aeolian Islands of Messina, isle of Ustica (Palermo), Aegadian Islands (Trapani), isle of Pantelleria (Trapani) and Pelagian Islands (Agrigento).

Province Area (km²) Population Density (inh./km²)
Province of Agrigento 3,042 455,288 149.6
Province of Caltanissetta 2,128 272,359 127.9
Province of Catania 3,552 1,084,674 305.3
Province of Enna 2,562 173,558 67.7
Province of Messina 3,247 654,520 201.5
Province of Palermo 4,992 1,244,012 249.2
Province of Ragusa 1,614 313,698 194.3
Province of Syracuse 2,109 402,680 190.9
Province of Trapani 2,460 435,877 177.1
Sicily attracts many tourists in the summer months

[edit] Tourism

Due to its sunny, dry climate, magnificent scenery, cuisine, history, and splendid architectural legacy, Sicily attracts 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 favoured destinations for tourists. The beautiful 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, Cefalu, Syracuse, and Agrigento. The latter features some of the best-preserved temples of the ancient Greek period. Many Mediterranean cruise ships also stop in Sicily.

[edit] World Heritage Sites

[edit] Sicilian Baroque

The Sicilian Baroque has a unique architectural identity. Noto, Caltagirone, Catania, Ragusa, Modica, Scicli and particularly Acireale contain some of Italy's best examples of Baroque architecture, carved in the local red sandstone.

The resort of Giardini Naxos at sunrise
Tourists in Taormina at night

[edit] Archeological sites

Because of many different cultures and domination that invaded the island, Sicily has a huge variety of archeological sites. Also, some of the most notable and best preserved temples and other structures of the Greek world are located in Sicily.[citation needed]. Here is a short list of the major archeological sites:

[edit] Culture

[edit] Language

Many Sicilians are bilingual in Italian and Sicilian, an entirely separate Romance language, which has a sizeable vocabulary with at least 250,000 words. Some of the words are loan words with slight changes, taking influence from Greek, Catalan, French, Arabic, Spanish and others.[61] The Sicilian language is also spoken to some extent in Calabria and Apulia; it had a significant influence on the Maltese language. In the modern age, as Italian is taught in schools and is the language of the media, especially in some of the urban areas, Sicilian is now a secondary language amongst much of the youth.

One of the places that hosted Frederick's Magna Curia.

The Sicilian language was an early influence in the development of the first Italian standard, although its use remained confined to an intellectual élite. This was a literary language in Sicily created under the auspices of Frederick II and his court of notaries, or Magna Curia, which, headed by Giacomo da Lentini, also gave birth to the Sicilian School, widely inspired by troubadour literature. Its linguistic and poetic heritage was later assimilated into the Florentine by Dante Alighieri, the father of modern Italian who, in his De Vulgari Eloquentia, claims that "In effect this vernacular seems to deserve a higher praise than the others, since all the poetry written by Italians can be called Sicilian".[62] It is in this language that appeared the first sonnet, whose invention is attributed to Giacomo da Lentini himself.

There are also a couple of less common, unofficial languages spoken on the island. In around five small Palermitan villages, Arbëreshë dialect of the Albanian language has been spoken since a wave of refugees settled there in the 15th century; these people are predominantly Byzantine Catholics and chant Greek at local Byzantine liturgy.[63] As one might expect, the language bears the marks of fifteenth century grammar and diction. In some cases, the Church itself encouraged the Albanians to settle on formerly monastic lands, particularly in western Sicily. In others, feudal lords welcomed the new residents. Messina and Palermo boasted the largest urban Albanian communities in Sicily. The Sicilian towns founded or repopulated by the Albanians are Piana degli Albanesi, Santa Cristina Gela, Mezzojuso, Contessa Entellina, Palazzo Adriano, Sant' Angelo Muxaro, Bronte, Biancavilla and San Michele in Ganzaria. There are also several Ennese towns where dialects of the Lombard language of the Gallo-Italic family are spoken.[64] Much of these two groups of people are tri-lingual, being able to also speak Italian and Sicilian.

[edit] Cuisine

Cannoli, a highly 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.[65] The ingredients are typically rich in taste while remaining affordable to the general populace.[66] The savory 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 sea food, freshly caught from the surrounding coastlines, including tuna, sea bream, sea bass, cuttlefish, swordfish, sardines, and others.[67]

Perhaps the most well-known part of Sicilian cuisine is the rich sweet dishes including ice creams and pastries. Cannoli, a tube-shaped shell of fried pastry dough filled with a sweet filling usually containing ricotta cheese, is in particular strongly associated with Sicily worldwide.[68] Biancomangiare, biscotti ennesi (cookies native to Enna), braccilatte a Sicilian version of doughnuts, buccellato, ciarduna, pignoli, bruccellati, sesame seed cookies, a sweet confection with sesame seeds and almonds (torrone in Italy) is cubbaita, frutta martorana, cassata, pignolata, granita, and cuccìa are amongst some of the most notable sweet dishes.[68]

Like the cuisine of the rest of southern Italy, pasta plays an important part in Sicilian cuisine, as does rice; for example with arancini.[69] 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.[70] Spices used include saffron, nutmeg, clove, pepper, and cinnamon, which were introducted 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 Hohenstaufen who first introduced a fondness for meat dishes to the island.[71] 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.

[edit] Arts

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.[72] Gorgias and Empedocles are two other highly noted early Sicilian-Greek philosophers, while the Syracusan Epicharmus is held to be the inventor of comedy.[73][74] The golden age of Sicilian poetry began in the early 13th century with the Sicilian School, which was highly influential. Some of the most noted figures in the area of Sicilian poetry and writing are Luigi Pirandello, Salvatore Quasimodo, Antonio Veneziano and Giovanni Verga. On the political side notable Sicilian philosophers include: Giovanni Gentile who wrote The Doctrine of Fascism and Julius Evola.

Majolica painting art of Caltagirone, Sicily.
Give me a lever and a place to stand and I will move the Earth!


Terra cotta 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.[76] There are two prominent folk art traditions on Sicily, both draw heavily from Norman influence; Sicilian cart is the painting of wooden carts with intricate decorations of scenes from the Norman romantic poems, such as The Song of Roland.[77] The same tales are told in traditional puppet theatres or teatro dei pupi, which feature hand-made wooden marionettes, depicting Normans and Saracens, who engage in mock battles. this is especially popular in Acireale.[78] Famous Sicilian painters include Renaissance artist Antonello da Messina, Renato Guttuso and Greek born Giorgio de Chirico who is commonly dubbed the "father of Surrealist art" and founder of the metaphysical art movement.[79]

Palermo hosts the Teatro Massimo, which is the largest opera house in Italy and the third largest in all of Europe.[80] Sicilian composers vary from Vincenzo Bellini, Sigismondo d'India, Giovanni Pacini and Alessandro Scarlatti, to contemporary composers such as Salvatore Sciarrino. Many award winning and acclaimed films of Italian cinema have been filmed in Sicily, amongst the most noted of which are; Visconti's "La Terra Trema" and "Il Gattopardo", Rosi's "Salvatore Giuliano", Marco Risi's "Mery per sempre" and "Ragazzi fuori", and Antonioni's "L'avventura".

[edit] Sports

Football manager Carmelo Di Bella.

The best known and most popular sport on the island of Sicily is football, which was introduced in the late 1800s under the influence of the English. Some of the oldest football clubs in all of Italy are Sicilian: the three most successful are Palermo, Messina, and Catania, who have all, at some point, played in the prestigious Serie A. To date, no Sicilian side has ever won Serie A; however, football is deeply embeded in local culture, all over Sicily each town has its own representative team.[81]

Palermo and Catania have a heated rivalry and compete in the Sicilian derby together: to date, Palermo is the only Sicilian team to have played on the European stage, in the UEFA Cup. The most noted Sicilian footballer is Salvatore Schillaci, who won the Golden Boot at the 1990 FIFA World Cup with Italy.[81] Other noted Sicilian players include Giuseppe Furino, Pietro Anastasi, Francesco Coco, Christian Riganò, and Roberto Galia.[81] There have also been some noted managers from the island, such as Carmelo Di Bella and Franco Scoglio.

Although football is by far the most popular sport in Sicily, the island also has participants in other fields. Amatori Catania compete in the top Italian national rugby union league called Super 10. They have even participated at European level in the European Challenge Cup. Competing in the basketball variation of Serie A is Orlandina Basket from Capo d'Orlando in the province of Messina, where the sport has a reasonable following. Various other sports that are played to some extent include volleyball, handball, and water polo. Previously, in motorsport, Sicily held the prominent Targa Florio sports car race that took place in the Madonie Mountains, with the start-finish line in Cerda.[82] The event was started in 1906 by Sicilian industrialist and automobile enthusiast Vincenzo Florio, and ran until it was cancelled due to safety concerns in 1977.[82]

[edit] Sicilian lifestyle and folklore

Sicilian perfomer at an animated crib
Religious festival in Trapani.

The family is at the heart of Sicilian culture as it has always been for generations. Family members often live close together, sometimes in the same housing complex, and sons and daughters usually remain at home with their parents until they marry, which tends to occur later than in previous decades. Couples today have fewer children than before, yet babies and children are much revered in Sicilian culture and almost always accompany their parents to social events.[83]

Sicilian weddings are lavish, expensive, and traditional. They are normally held in church. The Catholic church is an important feature in Sicilian life. Almost all public places are adorned with crucifixes upon their walls, and most Sicilian homes contain pictures of saints, statues, and other relics. Each town and city has its own patron saint, and the feast days are marked by gaudy processions through the streets with marching bands and displays of fireworks.

A carnival float in Acireale.

Sicilian religious festivals also include the presepe vivente ( animated crib), which takes place at Christmastime. Deftly combining religion and folklore, it is a constructed mock 19th century Sicilian village, complete with a nativity scene, and has people of all ages dressed in the costumes of the period, some impersonating the Holy Family, and others working as artisans of their particular assigned trade. It is normally concluded on Ephiphany, often highlighted by the arrival of the magi on horseback.

Sicilians also enjoy outdoor festivals, held in the local square or piazza where live music and dancing are performed on stage, and food fairs or sagras are set up in booths lining the square. These offer various local specialties, as well as typical Sicilian food. Normally these events are concluded with fireworks. The most important laic event in Sicily is the carnival. Famous carnivals are in Misterbianco, Regalbuto, Paternò, Sciacca, Acireale, Termini Imerese.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

[edit] Further reading

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ "Sicily". 20 November 2007. 
  2. ^ "Sicilia's Urbs of Syracusa". 20 November 2007. 
  3. ^ "Wedding in Sicily". 20 November 2007. 
  4. ^ "Sicily weather and climate". 8 January 2008. 
  5. ^ "Sicily: Encyclopedia II - Sicily - History". Experience Festival. 7 October 2007. 
  6. ^ "Aapologetico de la literatura española contra los opiniones". Ensayo historico. 7 October 2007. 
  7. ^ a b "Sicilian Peoples: The Sicanians". Best of Sicily. 7 October 2007. 
  8. ^ "Sicani". 7 October 2007. 
  9. ^ a b c "History of Sicily". 7 October 2007. 
  10. ^ "Valley of the Temples". 7 October 2007. 
  11. ^ "Siege of Syracuse". 7 October 2007. 
  12. ^ a b "Sicily". Hutchinson Encyclopedia. 7 October 2007. 
  13. ^ "Sensational Sicily". 7 October 2007. 
  14. ^ a b "Sicily" in the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia..
  15. ^ Stockton, David. Cicero: A Political Biography. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0198720331. 
  16. ^ a b "Early & Medieval History". 7 October 2007. 
  17. ^ a b c Privitera, Joseph. Sicily: An Illustrated History. Hippocrene Books. ISBN 978-0781809092. 
  18. ^ "Theodoric". Encyclopædia Britannica. 7 October 2007. 
  19. ^ Hearder, Harry. Italy: A Short History. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521337199. 
  20. ^ a b "Gothic War: Byzantine Count Belisarius Retakes Rome". 7 October 2007. 
  21. ^ Smith, Denis Mack, (1968). 'A History of Sicily: Medieval Sicily 800—1713,. Chatto & Windus, London,. ISBN 7011 1347 2. 
  22. ^ a b "Syracuse, Sicily". 7 October 2007. 
  23. ^ "Sicilian Peoples: The Byzantines". 7 October 2007. 
  24. ^ a b c d e "Brief history of Sicily" (PDF). 7 October 2007. 
  25. ^ Raphael Patai, The Jewish Mind, Scribners, 1977, p. 155-6
  26. ^ a b "Chronological - Historical Table Of Sicily". In Italy Magazine. 7 October 2007. 
  27. ^ "Classical and Medieval Malta (60-1530)". 7 October 2007. 
  28. ^ John Julius, Norwich. The Normans in Sicily: The Normans in the South 1016-1130 and the Kingdom in the Sun 1130-1194. Penguin Global. ISBN 978-0140152128. 
  29. ^ "Sicilian Peoples: The Normans". 7 October 2007. 
  30. ^ a b c d e f "Sicilian History". 7 October 2007. 
  31. ^ "The Treaties of Utrecht (1713)". 7 October 2007. 
  32. ^ "Charles of Bourbon - the restorer of the Kingdom of Naples". 7 October 2007. 
  33. ^ "Campo Tenese". 7 October 2007. 
  34. ^ "Two Sicilies, Kingdom of, 1848-49". 7 October 2007. 
  35. ^ a b c d e "Italians around the World: Teaching Italian Migration from a Transnational Perspective". 7 October 2007. 
  36. ^ "Palermo" in the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia.
  37. ^ "Sicily". Capitol Hill. 7 October 2007. 
  38. ^ "fascio siciliano". Encyclopædia Britannica. 7 October 2007. 
  39. ^ "Sicily autonomy". 7 October 2007. 
  40. ^ "Italy - Land Reforms". Encyclopædia Britannica. 7 October 2007. 
  41. ^ "North and South: The Tragedy of Equalization in Italy" (PDF). Frontier Center for Public Policy. 7 October 2007. 
  42. ^ "A 19 autostrada Palermo - Catania". 2 January 2008. 
  43. ^ "Autostrada A20: Messina - Palermo". 24 October 2007. 
  44. ^ "A 29 autostrada Palermo - Trapani - Mazara del Vallo". 2 January 2008. 
  45. ^ "Autostrada: A18 Messina - Catania". 24 October 2007. 
  46. ^ "Sicily Travel and Transport". 2 January 2008. 
  47. ^ "Traghetti Sicily 2008". Traghetti Guida. 2 January 2008. 
  48. ^ "High speed car/passenger ferry service". 2 January 2008. 
  49. ^ Italy revives Sicily bridge plan from BBC News. Retrieved 8 March 2009.
  50. ^ "Italian MPs kill plan to bridge Sicily and mainland". 2 January 2008.,,1920199,00.html. 
  51. ^ "No Italian Job Takes Longer Than This Bridge". Wall Street Journal. 10 April 2008. 
  52. ^ "Sicily". 20 November 2007. 
  53. ^ "The Coppola Returns". 20 November 2007. 
  54. ^ "Greek Italy". 20 November 2007. 
  55. ^ "Region: Sicilia". 20 November 2007. 
  56. ^
  57. ^
  58. ^
  59. ^
  60. ^
  61. ^ "The Sicilian Language". 7 October 2007. 
  62. ^ Alighieri, Dante. De vulgari eloquentia. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521400640. 
  63. ^ "Sicilian Peoples: The Albanians". 7 October 2007. 
  64. ^ "Lombard language, alphabet and pronunciation". 7 October 2007. 
  65. ^ "Our Man Abroad". Sunday Circle. 24 June 2007. 
  66. ^ "The Foods Of Sicily - A Culinary Journey". 24 June 2007. 
  67. ^ Piras, Claudia and Medagliani, Eugenio. Culinaria Italy. Konemann. ISBN 978-3833134463. 
  68. ^ a b Senna, Luciana. __Om01QutSjva0I#PPA158,M1 Authentic Sicily. Touring Club of Italy. ISBN 978-8836534036. __Om01QutSjva0I#PPA158,M1. 
  69. ^ "Arancini, the cult Sicilian dish". 24 June 2007. 
  70. ^ "Sicilian Cheese". 24 June 2007. 
  71. ^ "Sicilian Food and Wine". 24 June 2007. 
  72. ^ Calinger, Ronald S. A Contextual History of Mathematics. Prentice Hall. ISBN 978-0023182853. 
  73. ^ Talfourd, Thomas Noon. History of Greek Literature. University of Michigan. 
  74. ^ "Discovering the Similarity of the Greek and Sicilian Spirit". 2 January 2008. 
  75. ^ "Could Archimedes have lifted the earth?". 2 January 2008. 
  76. ^ "Sicilian Ceramic Art". 2 January 2008. 
  77. ^ "Travelling in Style". 2 January 2008. 
  78. ^ "History of our Sicilian puppets". Puppi Siciliani. 2 January 2008. 
  79. ^ Thrall Soby, James. The Early Chirico. Ayer Co Pub. ISBN 978-0405007361.,M1. 
  80. ^ "Teatro Massimo in Palermo". 2 January 2008. 
  81. ^ a b c "Sicilian derby takes centre stage". 7 October 2007. 
  82. ^ a b "Targa Florio 1906-1977". 7 October 2007. 
  83. ^ Best of Sicily Magazine

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