Sicily, with more intact Greek temples than Greece, has sugar-white beaches, volcanoes, Mediterranean cuisine, special wines, and a varied culture shaped by all of the peoples that invaded the island over the centuries. The whole island is a garden and breadbasket to mainland Italy. Two weeks is barely enough to touch the highlights, with a week in the west and a week in the east. Winter is nice for day trips, but it is not the season for beautiful beaches and swimming in the clear seas. The best times to visit Sicily are in spring, June or fall. Give it time. It is worth it.

WESTERN SICILY

1. Enjoy Palermo's Mosaics

Moasics in Capella Palatina, Palermo, Sicily

If you loved Ravenna's mosaics, you will love Palermo's. Don't miss the spectacular mosaics in the churches Cappella Palatina, La Martorana, San Giovanni degli Eremiti, and San Cataldo. See also the Norman Palace, Favorita Park, and the old town.

2. A Day at the Museum

Palermo Archaeolgical Museum, Palermo, Sicily

Go to the Palermo Archaeological Museum to see findings from the massive temple you will see in Segesta. See the harbor and Arienella beach and Monte Pellegrino.

3. Enjoy the Greek Theatre

Temple Ruins, Segesta, Sicily

Visit Monreale high above Palermo for more dazzling mosaics and then drive (on the coastal road) to Segesta, which is an awe inspiring, massive Greek temple and Greek theatre on Mount Barbaro above the temple.

4. Mozia and Marsala

Windmills and Landscape in Marsala, Sicily

Travel to the hilltop village of Erice to see over to Trapani, the western tip of Sicily and the closest point to Africa. Skip Trapani but south of here, see salt production, take a little boat to the tiny Island of Mozia to see a tiny museum with a memorable and controversial marble statue, the Mozia Youth. On to Marsala where it is possible to see parts of a Punic ship reconstructed in the archaeological museum.

5. Enjoy White Sand Beaches and Marble Quarries

Beach at Castelvetrano, Sicily

Our favorite area of Sicily is forgotten by most people - the southwest - Selinunte and Rocca di Cusa (the quarry where the slaves carved out the huge columns for Selinunte). The coast is also famous for white beaches and clear water - stop at Marinella Beach and possibly Eraclea Minoa and Sciacca. Archaeological sites are always best explored early in the morning before the heat of the day.

6. Visit Agrigento

Valley of the Temples, Agrigento, Sicily

Allow a full day for Agrigento's spectacular Valley of the Temples, Archeological Museum and old town.

CENTRAL SICILY

7. Mythology of Persephone

Ruins of Piazza Amerina, Sicily

Travel inland to the center of the island to Piazza Armerina (Imperial Villa with about 37 rooms of beautiful Roman mosaics) and the 300 ft. high village of Enna. Pass the Lake of Pergusa where myth has it that Persephone was kidnapped and dragged into the underworld by Hades while her mother, Demetre, despaired.

EASTERN SICILY

8. Ceramics in Caltagirone and Nolto

Ceramics Craftsmanship, Caltagirone, Sicily

Caltagirone is famous for ceramics and is worth a visit especially for the huge ceramic staircase in the center. Don't miss Noto, to the south of Agrigento, a baroque city and UNESCO World Heritage site.

9. The Home of Archimedes and the Teaching of Aristotle

Ear of Dionysius, Syracuse, Italy

Siracusa was the Greek city-state where Archimedes lived and Aristotle taught. Start early at the Neapolis archaeological park with a Greek theater, the grottos of the Cordari (rope makers), and the Ear of Dionysius (note the particular acoustics, where two people singing sound like a choir). See the Ortygia Island with the Cathedral, built on the Greek Temple of Athene, and Fountain of Arethusa. Take an interesting boat trip to see papyrus growing and people working with papyrus. Inland to the north and above Siracusa, visit the Euryalos Fortress to appreciate the defenses of Siracusa and why it was unconquerable.

10. The Face of the Volcano

Mt. Etna Lavafield, , Sicily

Drive up Mt. Etna from Giarre. Cross black lava fields and see the tiny flowers covering them. Walk around some small craters. Lunch here or take a lift or climb farther up the mountain for a picnic or spend some quality beach time.

11. Taormina Amphitheater and Shopping

Ruins of Taormina Amphitheater, Sicily

Ascend to Taormina by funicular and explore on foot to see the stunning views, Greek Theatre, and to enjoy shopping as well as one of the myriad restaurants. Splurge on a glass of wine at the famous San Domenico Palace to join the beautiful people on a terrace looking out over the gardens, sea, sunset and Mt. Etna.

12. See the Black Madonna and the Bronze Warriors

Church of the Black Madonna, Tindari, Sicily

Explore the northeast coast: Messina (watch the ships ply the Straits of Messina, including those loaded with entire trains), Milazzo, Tindari (sanctuary of the Black Madonna), Cefalu' (see the Norman cathedral) and beaches. If you have time, take a trip to the Aeolian Islands from Milazzo past smoking volcanoes to Lipari or cross to see the wondrous larger-than-life bronze Riace Warriors at the Archeological Museum in Reggio Calabria.

Before You Leave

Revisit the places you loved the most or to see something you missed. Reflect on all you've done and save the rest for next time. Arrivederci!