Diverse & Divine
The largest island in the Mediterranean is also one of the most culturally and geographically diverse regions of Italy. Sicily’s eclectic history – including Greek, Arab, Norman, Spanish, and English influences – is represented in its unique cuisine and fascinating variety of architecture.
Wander the narrow medieval streets of Palermo, where you’ll get a flavor for local Sicilian life and have a chance to taste babbaluci (marinated baby snails sold in paper cornets, perfect for eating on the run) and Sicily’s famous slushy ice dessert, granita, from street vendors. Be sure to walk up and down the enormous lava dunes of Mount Etna, Europe’s highest active volcano at approximately 3350 meters, and meander over its moonlike surface. The beaches in Sicily are another can't-miss attraction; composed of both white and black sand and fringed with orange and lemon orchards, they're an entirely unique beach experience.
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Spiaggia dei Conigli: Recently crowned the number one beach in the world by TripAdvisor, this remote beach is situated on Lampedusa. Described by travelers as an unspoiled nature reserve with a unique setting, Rabbit Beach is only accessible by boat, but it's well worth the trek – you'll feel as if you've discovered your own private island. It's also one of the few places in the Mediterranean where the loggerhead sea turtle still goes to lay its eggs.
Calamosche: If you're looking for a quiet, private beach to stretch out, Calamosche is ideal. With no nearby resorts, facilities, or kiosks to cover the sound of the waves, this beach is the epitome of simplistic beauty. Located between the archaeological remains of Eloro and the rocky headlands of the Natural Reserve, you'll need to park the car and walk a considerable distance to reach this isolated paradise. However, because it's not easily accessible, there are fewer visitors. The headlands' caves as well as the wide variety of vegetation and ocean life adds to the beach's distinctive allure.
Isola Bella: This glamorous beach is the most famous one in Taormina for a reason. Protected by the bay and the mountains, bathing season is longer here than other beaches in the region. An abundance of chic, sun-tanned visitors and crystal-clear water make a trip to Isola Bella unrivaled. It's easy to get here by using the cable car from Mazzaró, then crossing the coastal road and walking down the stairway. You can even head out for for a scuba dive with the Nike Diving Centre. Don't forget to wear sturdy sandals, though – the beach is made of pebbles, not sand.
Mazzeo at Letojanni: This beach is farther down the coast than Isola Bella, but quieter and more relaxing as a result. Some parts of the beach are free to use, but there are no sun loungers or sunshades, so for full access to these as well as showers and music, you'll need to pay a fee. The best part is that the beach is close to a variety of restaurants, bars and pubs where you can stop for a quick bite or cocktail.
Vendicari: Part of a nature reserve, the peaceful Vendicari beach near Portopalo is ideal for snorkeling, swimming, or just taking in the breathtaking views across the Mediterranean Sea. This thin stretch of golden sand is one of the least visited beaches on the entire island, so your only company might be a few flamingos. Visiting this beach also presents a perfect opportunity to explore the Baroque-style palaces and churches in the town of Noto at sunset.