Best places to visit in Sicily in winter
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Not everyone knows that in Sicily there are two areas where to practice winter sports, with children too:
Piano Battaglia, on the Madonie, in the western zone of the island.
The volcano Etna, with the ski resorts of Piano Provenza and Nicolosi, in the eastern part of the island.
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The Sicilian hinterland boasts several medieval villages that have stood still in their beauty. During winter, the typical Christmas lights and decorations fill the streets with a festive and folk atmosphere.
Lots of people think that Sicily is an island to visit only in summer, in spring and at most in autumn, when you can still go to the beach. But few people know that in Sicily, the climate is getting warmer, even in winter (which is not so good for the phenomenon of global warming).
In fact, until late November you can go around with a short-sleeved shirt and a spring jacket, and in winter, there are many places to visit and discover.
Take for example a Christmas in Sicily: of course, to find snow in Sicily you have to move towards Etna, but what about the nativity scenes, that attract thousands and thousands of tourists from all over the world every year?
-Which are the places to visit in winter in Sicily?
What places not to miss? Here my tips for those who are planning a winter trip to Sicily. Let's start from the main town, Palermo.
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Its historical center consists of four main districts (Kalsa, Albergheria, Vucciria, Capo).
Things to see: Piazza Marina with its Garibaldi Garden, Corso Vittorio Emanuele and Piazza Pretoria with the “Fontana Della Vergogna”, Piazza Bellini and the Church of Santa Caterina, the Church of the Martorana and the church of San Cataldo, the Quattro Canti and via Maqueda.
The market Ballarò with fruit, vegetables, fish, meat and every gastronomic product of Sicily. The Palace of the Normans and the Chapel Palatina, the Cathedral of Palermo, the Catacombs of the Capuccini, Cuba (one of the most representative buildings of the Arab architecture) and the numerous “Doors” of Palermo.
Don't miss the neighborhood Vucciria with its street food.
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The salt pans and the whole marine area of Castellammare del Golfo.
Marsala and its wines
The pond with the salt pans, the typical windmills and then you can continue towards Selinunte with its temples.
It has the charm of a medieval village and unique almond cakes (to try, also the “pesto alla trapanese"), from here you can also have a breathtaking view of Trapani thanks to the cable car.
Clearly, the Valley of the Temples, while moving towards Aragona you can visit the Vulcanelli of Macalube (small volcanoes all to be discovered: on a stretch of mud these volcanoes create mini eruptions of methane gas coming out of the ground, a unique and disturbing landscape to be seen at least once in life).
Catania and its province
In Catania, you can visit the Volcan Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe, here, various winter associations organize excursions, itineraries, and initiatives truly amazing between nature and flavors, breathtaking views, and sports like hiking.
You can visit the ceramics and the cribs, a unique tradition of this city that still today is handed down from generation to generation, from family to family.
The Doric temple of Segesta is located in a very suggestive hilly context. Together with the theatre, it forms the Archaeological Park, in which it is really pleasant to take a walk and go back in time.
Zingaro nature reserve
The Zingaro Nature Reserve is a protected area that can be accessed only on foot, along the paths of the park and down to the various coves. The access points to the park are by Scopello or from San Vito Lo Capo.
The most beaten path is the so-called “coastal path” which with its 7 km connects the two access points.
In summer this area is stormed by a crowd of swimmers, but in winter it is an oasis of peace and tranquillity surrounded by a green Mediterranean landscape with beautiful views. I must confess I had a hard time not getting into that crystal clear water!
Valley of the temples
Declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO, the Valley of the Temples of Agrigento was, without doubt, the apex of my winter trip in Sicily. Because it was one of those places that were on my list for too long.
I can’t describe to you the emotion of finding myself alone in front of these Greek temples so mythical and distant in time, surrounded by a landscape of almond trees and olive groves.
That's why I was traveling in December, in low season, just me and very few tourists.
Gorges of Alcantara
This visit goes far beyond the classic tour of Sicily, but I had read about this place and wanted to see it for myself. It is a park in the Valley of Alcantara and is characterized by a natural canyon with gorges up to 25 meters high and between 2 and 5 meters wide.
The particular shape of the rocks (reminiscent of the Irish Giant’s causeway) is due to the volcanic origin of the area where the lava has cooled very quickly creating very suggestive prismatic forms.
Taormina is always associated with its most important monument: the Greek Theatre. After visiting the theatre, do not miss a stroll through the alleys of the center of this exclusive and elegant town so loved by foreign tourists.
SOME CONSIDERATIONS ON MY TRIP ROAD IN SICILY
So here we are at the end of my tour of Sicily. You may have noticed that this post lacks what I like to call insider advice. Unfortunately, the time was very short and the tour I planned was very classic and challenging.
I did not, therefore, have the opportunity to devote myself (as I try to do in every journey) to find lesser-known angles, particular activities or various experiments.
If I could go back I would change only one thing about this trip: the duration! To safely visit all the places I mentioned would take at least 12-15 days, to live them according to my standards I would need a month!
Winter events in Sicily
During winter take the opportunity to participate in some of the most interesting events of the period
BETWEEN DECEMBER AND JANUARY
- The Living Nativity of Custonaci, set up in the country museum inside the Bread Eating Grotto, in the province of Trapani.
- The Katabba's medieval festival held in Monforte San Giorgio.
- Chocomodica, the Sicilian Chocolate Festival.
BETWEEN FEBRUARY AND MARCH
- Every year in winter, from 3 to 5 February, takes place the festival of Sant'Agata in Catania: thousands of devotees and curious crowd the city to see the procession of the “vara” and the fireworks show.
- During the cold season, what could be better than “warming up” in Sicily celebrating Carnival? It is one of the most beloved traditions and is celebrated with music, masks and huge Wagons of Carnival.
- The most imaginative and colorful parades are held in Acireale, Sciacca, Termini Imerese, Regalbuto, and Francavilla di Sicilia.