13 Interesting Facts About Sicily

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Looking for some interesting facts about Sicily? From sonnets to the Godfather, these fascinating fun facts about Sicily will keep you entertained. Let’s go.

Interesting Facts About Sicily

Sicily is Bigger than you Think

It might surprise you to know that Sicily is home to more than five million people. That’s more than many countries in the EU. The population is spread over 9927 square miles, or in driving terms, two hours from north to south and just under four hours east to west.

And Closer to Italy than you Think

With a culture and character of her own, you might be surprised at how close Sicily is to the mainland. Just one and a half miles of Mediterranean blue separate the island of Sicily from Calabria in southern Italy. It’s called the strait of Messina and plans are under constant discussion about whether or not it makes sense to build a bridge there.

Picturesque Sicilian coastline, Italy

Sicily is Surrounded by Not One, Not Two, but Three Seas

Speaking of seas, Sicily has three of them. The Tyrrhenian Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the Ionian Sea. It’s one of the features that makes it so suitable for coastal activity and beach holidays. It’s also one of the factors that can make it harder to fit into a standard 10 day Italy itinerary. Plan for a standalone holiday in Sicily, rather than trying to fit it into a road or rail trip.

Streets of Trapani Sicily at night

Locals Prefer Trapani

Trapani is a small city with an atmospheric old quarter. It’s the main hub of the west coast of Sicily and has its own airport with connections to the mainland. It’s popular with Italians but still something of a secret to foreigners, who tend to head elsewhere on the island.

To find somewhere to stay, check out Villas Trapani on the Select Sicily guide.

Sicily Has the Largest Opera House in Italy (and a Godfather Connection)

Built in 1897, the Teatro Massimo in Palermo is the largest opera house in Italy. It was also the backdrop for the climax of the Godfather Part Three, in case, like me, you like to know these things!

Sicilian is a Language

You’ll hear many different languages on this island. Sicilian and Italian, for sure, but also French, German, Arabic and Romanian.

Sicily Gave the World Sonnets

Local poet Giacoma da Lentini invented the structure of the sonnet in the distant days of the 13th century. The idea caught on and subsequent poets Petrarca and Dante Alighieri expanded and exported the genre in the century that followed.

Arancini Sicilian food

Sicilian Food Has its Own Hit List

Move over pizza from Naples and spaghetti a la Bolognese. Sicilian bites include arancini, balls of piping hot rice, and sfincione, a type of pizza involving caciocavallo cheese, anchovies and onions.

Capital Palermo Wins Awards

Forbes named Palermo the capital of Street Food back in 2015 and in 2018, Palermo scooped up the  cultural capital of Italy designation.

Sicily Has Known Many Invaders

The Greeks, Romans, Phoenicians and Normans have all claimed Sicily as their own over the years and left their mark behind. It’s pretty easy to see why so many people wanted her: a strategic location between Europe and Africa, beautiful beaches, mountainous interior and some great Sicilian wine.

Valley of the Temples Sicily Italy

Sicily Has Some of the Best Preserved Greek Ruins in the World

The Valley of the Temples is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a great place to see history you can touch.

Sicily is an Autonomous Region Within Italy

As the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily stands out. She is also one of Italy’s five autonomous regions out of the twenty regions in Italy.

Sicily Has an Active Volcano

Mount Etna ranks as the highest peak in Italy south of the Alps and the highest active volcano in Europe (outside the Caucasus.) It’s 3326 metres high and covers an area of 459 square miles. It last erupted in 2013, with an extended eruptive period since then.

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