Each province in Sicily has its unique landscape, dialect and cuisine. They are all quite diverse to experience.
Palermo is one of the greatest cities of art and history in Europe. In the Victorian period, royal families would choose to holiday in Palermo. The city is filled with endless churches, historical neighbourhoods, palaces, and other sights to explore. The landscape outside the plain of Palermo is quite mountainous, starting from the Monte Pellegrino directly above the city, where Palermo’s local Patron Saint Rosalia was found in a cave and where her church now stands.
The mountains are quite harsh and rocky, and the coastline is also rustic, but it is all quite suggestive. Like most parts of Sicily, the province of Palermo offers the opportunity to zig zag from the coast to the smaller mountain villages. It is easy to catch a bus from Palermo to the mountains today trip to a town filled with history and beauty. You can easily take a scenic drive up into the highlands and explore many villages nearby.
Small towns to explore in Palermo province: Polizzi Generosa, Terrrasini, Cefalù, Collesano, Bagheria, Sant’Elia, Petralia Soprana, Petralia Sottana, Santa Flavia.
Messina province is different once again; generally, it’s greener than the other provinces. It is rich in water deposits and gets the most rainfall of all the other provinces of the island. The mountains are filled with weaving mountain roads and dotted with small towns all around the place. You can still go back and forth from the coast to the mountains as you please while hunting down small local restaurants for a lazy lunch during the week or finding a spot to stop for a Sunday afternoon picnic in a scenic lookout spot in nearly any mountain town.
Small towns to explore in Messina province: San Marco d’Alunzio, Alcara li Fusi, Longi, Castelmola, Castroreale, Cesarò, Floresta, Santa Domenica Vittoria, Montalbano Elicona, Novara di Sicilia, Mistretta.
The Mount Etna volcano dominates Catania province, so the landscape is filled with volcanic lava stones and soil. The result of the proximity to Europe’s most active volcano is exceptionally fertile soil, the periphery of Catania is filled with citrus and olive groves, pistachio plantations and vineyards. The city and surrounding towns are made of the characteristic dark lava stones, and its position near the sea means it has mild winters and long hot summers.
Small towns to explore in Catania province: Bronte, Aci Trezza, Castiglione di Sicili, Caltagirone, Acireale, Nicolosi, Castiglione di Sicilia, Sant Alfio, Rocella Valdemone.
Paese Etnei (towns near Etna): Zafferana Etnea, Paterno, Santa Maria di Licodia, Biancavilla, Maletto, Maniace, Francavilla di Sicilia, Castiglione di sicilia.
Trapani province is filled with beautiful seaside towns and cities dotted along the coastline. The climate is distinctly more under the influence of Africa, which can be seen from the provincial capital. The hot winds of this western part of the island bring warm weather for most of the year and make its wines some of the best in Sicily (particularly the sweet white wines who love the warmer climate.) Trapani is fascinating to visit with its unique connection to Africa is reflected in the local cuisine; the north African fishermen migrating across throughout the island’s history brought things like couscous. The North Africans also brought ancient fishing techniques for the once-thriving tuna industry and methods for producing sea salt from the local salt pans and lakes. Every year flamingos make their seasonal migration to mate in the area from Africa.
Small towns to explore in Trapani province: Erice, Levanzo, Mazara del Vallo, Salemi, San Vito Lo Capo, Marsala, Pantelleria, Isole Egadi, Castellammare del Golfo, Scopello
The small province of Ragusa on the east below Catania is filled with history and architecture. A major earthquake in the 1700s destroyed many towns in the areas, which were lovingly rebuilt in the stunning Sicilian Baroque style and created some of the most scenic towns to visit on the entire island.
Small town to explore in Ragusa province: Ispica, Scoglitti, Modica, Scicli, Pozzallo, Punta Secca, Sampieri.
Agrigento province was where the ancient populations chose to base their colonies. Both the ancient Greeks used the area to establish their agriculture-based economies, profiting from the area’s fertility and deep history of cultivation. In the Arab period, the north African and middle eastern settlers used their advanced techniques in agriculture to create much wealth in the area. Some of the most well preserved Greek architecture outside Greece and many ancient gardens show off ancient aqueducts, fountains and irrigation techniques. It is an old and fascinating part of the island to visit.
Small towns to explore in Agrigento province: Lampedusa, Ribera, Sambuca di Sicilia, Sciacca, Licata, Menfi, Porto Empedocle, Sambuca di Sicilia.
Siracusa province is one of the most ancient settlement areas in Sicily. A visit to the capital of Syracuse is like stepping back into ancient Greek or Roman times. The province was the location of one of the most bustling ports in the Mediterranean, focusing on trade, travel, and exchange. The area is just as fertile and productive as other parts of Sicily, but generally being close to Africa, the summers are arid and long, so it isn’t as lush as other parts of Sicily; the colours are less vibrant, and the landscape is dryer. But the winters are incredibly mild compared to the rest of Sicily, where the mountains are less of a feature in the geography, and the sea is a significant part of the province’s appeal.
Small towns to explore in Siracusa province: Marzamemi, Ortigia, Sortino, Noto, Avola, Palazzolo Acreide, Augusta.
Caltanissetta and Enna
The central provinces of Caltanissetta and Enna are the ancient heart of Sicily. The fertile land in the central highlands of Sicily produced the grains to feed the Roman empire and was labelled the breadbasket of Rome. The literal heart of the island has an ancient spirit; it is a place with much history with an old rustic soul. The central provinces of Sicily are the perfect places to explore the authentic nature of the island. From the most beautiful panoramas in Sicily to ancient Roman villas and town sights that date back to prehistoric times. This area has been inhabited ever since human beings have existed and is a fascinating area to visit and explore.
Small towns to explore in Caltanissetta province: Sutera, Gangi, Sperlinga, Gela, Mussomeli, Niscemi, Sant Cataldo, Mazzarino, Niscemi.
Small towns to explore in Enna province: Piazza Armerina, Centuripe, Troina, Nicosia, Calascibetta, Leonforte, Valguarnera, Troina, Pietraperzia.