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Italy - Aeolian Islands & Sicily Planning Tips and Fast Facts

Sail from Medieval Villages to Fuming Volcanoes and Sulpher Mud Baths – All in Crystalline Seas

Our Expert Opinion

Combining the spirited cities of Sicily with the dramatic Aeolian islands offers a charming blend of history, culture and unabashed nature. The ascent to the crater’s edge of very lively Stromboli volcano is a peak experience… a must for your bucket list. Or just relax on the deck of your yacht, sipping a local Malvasian wine as Stromboli spews its molten lava into a star-flooded sky.

What is Destination Known For?

Volcanic islands, panoramic mountain hikes, spewing fumaroles, exotic seafood, capers and Malaysia wines, scuba diving, historic cities, architectural treasures, therapeutic mud baths, watersports galore, and marine preserves.

Location and Size

With an area of 9,927 sq. miles (25,711 sq. km), Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, situated south of the Italian Peninsula. The Aeolian Islands are a group of eight volcanic islands, together having an area of 618 sq. miles (1600 sq.km.), located to the north of Sicily, in the Tyrrhenian Sea.

History

Sicily. The history of Sicily extends back to the Bronze Age, when its fertile land and pivotal location in the Mediterranean summoned the Greeks and the Carthaginians. Following the earliest settlements around 734 BC, the region gave birth to a number of Greek states, with Syracuse being the greatest. While Greek Sicily was being fragmented by inter-state warfare in the subsequent era, the Romans were growing in power in mainland Italy. Consequently, Sicily fell to Rome in the Second Punic War in 211 BC. The region became a vital resource for the Romans who ruled it till the 9th century AD, leaving behind an influence, which is still to be witnessed today, before ceding it to the Arabs.

The country reclaimed its lost grandeur under the Arabs. Around the late 11thcentury, the Arabs were losing ground, the Normans capitalized and invaded Sicily . In turn, the Spanish overpowered them in 1282 and ruled Sicily for the next 500 years.

Eventually, a revolt led by Giuseppe Garibaldi in 1860, called the Expedition of the Thousand, succeeded in overthrowing the foreign powers and unifying Italy, which also brought Sicily under its power.

The Aeolian Islands. The Aeolian Islands derives its name from the mythological Aeolus, the Greek God of the Winds, who is believed to have once lived here. These islands emerged from submarine volcanoes, blessed with rich mineral deposits, which gradually led to the growth of a native population. In the succeeding period, the Greeks, who had earlier settled in the neighboring regions, too began to colonize the islands. Together with the natives, they managed to keep the invaders at bay, but in 252 BC, the islands eventually yielded to the Roman Consul, Caius Aurelius. Rome brought the islands under its empire, which included mainland Sicily. The destiny of the Aeolian Islands hence merged with Sicily's.


Getting There

Sicily is connected with direct flights to various parts of Europe from Palermo, Catania and Birgi. Stopover flights also operate between these locations and the rest of the world.

Getting There By Sea: Ferry services operate between Sicily, Italy, Tunisia, Malta and the Aeolian Islands

Best Time to Go

The region experiences very pleasant weather in the periods between April and early October, averaging around 70°F/21°C in June and September and 79°F/26°C in July and August. In the summer months, the water is very inviting with temperatures around a very comfortable 81°F/27°C.


Local Customs to Observe

A handshake, accompanied with 'buongiorno' (good day) or 'buona sera'(good evening) is used in greetings. People are also greeted with kisses on both cheeks. Dressing is usually modest. Sicilians do not embrace punctuality, and sensitive topics like the Mafia should not be discussed.


Helpful Fast Facts

Ascend the wonders of Mount Etna – takCurrency: Euro.

Time Zone: UTC+01:00.

Local language: Italian is the official language. A sizeable population speaks Sicilian, which is not an Italian dialect, but a distinct language.

Population: 5.082 million in total, with around 10,000 of them staying on the islands.

Airport: Falcone–Borsellino Airport (PMO) at Palmero and Catania–Fontanarossa Airport (CTA) at Catania links the country to the world.

Entry Requirements: All nationals entering Sicily require a valid passport. EU citizens do not need a visa to stay in Sicily. Citizens of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA, Israel and Japan may stay up to 90 days in the country without a visa.

Departure Tax: None.

Legal Drinking Age: 16 years.

Smoking Regulations: It is illegal to smoke in hotels, restaurants, bars, pubs, schools, stores, auditoriums, public transports or public buildings in Sicily and the Aeolian Islands.

Staying in touch: Sicily has all the amenities of a developed nation, which includes connectivity. Superior landline and mobile services cover the entire country, with international roaming plans, allowing cheaper calls from cell phones. Internet coverage is also very good and most important places render Wi-Fi facilities.

Medical Information: Nuova Casa di Cure Demma S. R. L, Ospedale Francesco Saverio and Azienda Ospedaliero - Ferrarotto Alessi are some of the well-known hospitals in the region offering specialized services.

Public Holidays: New Year's Day (January 1); Epiphany (January 6); Easter and Easter Monday; Liberation Day (April 25); Labor Day (May 1); Republic Day (June 2); Assumption of the Virgin (August 15); All Saints' Day (November 1); Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8), Christmas Day (December 25); and Saint Stephen (December 26).

Tourist Office: Detailed information pertaining to tourism of Sicily and the Aeolian Islands can be found at http://www.italiantourism.com/.

Shopping Information: The market atPiazza Trinity in Masculucia and another in Giardini Naxos are Sicily's main attractions for shopping. One can find fashionable clothing and jewelry at Agrigento and Palermo. Ragusa is ideal for purchasing electronic gadgets. Duty-free shops exist at the airports of Palmer and Catania.e a torch lit walk through its lava tunnels

Top Ten "Must Do's"

  • Sample a cannolo in its birthplace of Palermo
  • Scuba with coral, sponges, underwater grottos in Ustica’s marine reserve
  • Dance til dawn at a rooftop bar in Panarea
  • Rent a scooter and take a self guided tour of Salina
  • Make a date with history at the Aeolian Archaeological Museum
  • Marvel at the mosaics of Monreale in Palermo
  • Savor the divine Pasta alla Norma
  • Heal yourself with a thermal bath on Vulcano
  • Hike to the crater’s edge of Stromboli
  • Spend some unforgettable moments swimming at Spiaggia Valle i Muria

Major Local and Regional Events

  • Erice's Passion Play – a dramatic event around Easter depicting the life of Jesus Christ
  • Patron Feasts – a festival, remembering the holy men of Christianity
  • Carnival in Taormina (Feb-March) – featuring celebrations, competitions and games

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