Where Europe meets Africa, Sicily has always had an on the brink feeling. Italys most southern province, Sicilians are Latin by adoption only. Named Tricarnia in antiquity due to its triangular shape, Sicilys three corners have striking contrasts. The Ancient Greeks settled in the east. This coastline is scattered with Greek artefacts from the ancient city of Siracusa (the New York of the Hellenic world), Agrigentos marvellous Valley of the Temples to Taorminas dramatic cliff top theatre. Home to Europes largest volcano, Mt Etna, this is a land of fertile terraces, bougainvillaea decked squares and rocky volcanic shores. The west is a former Arab kingdom, Palermos Conca dOro (a ring of citrus groves) is an Arabian import. Many towns with their white-washed low walled square houses, such as Marettimo, would not look out of place in North Africa. The countryside is gentler here, than on Etnas flanks, characterized by sloping vine-terraced hills giving way to shingle coves and sandy bays lapped by sapphire waters. The South has always been the preserve of the Spanish – Ragusa, Noto and Ispica were all rebuilt according to Spanish Baroque in 17C after an earthquake. Today their cathedrals could grace any Andalucian square. These gracious towns perch above dramatic limestone gorges, lined with oleander and carob trees. On the coast, you will find miles of unspoilt, wide sandy beaches.
Wherever you go in Sicily however, your visit will be enhanced by the Sicilians themselves. Their dialect is the only one in Europe without a future tense, illustrating the exuberant spontaneity that characterizes life here. Whether they are sharing a granita (crushed lemon and ice) in the village square or enjoying a post dinner walk or passeggiata, Sicilians embody the islands cultural melting pot heritage that makes a Sicily walking vacation here unique and infinitely rewarding.