Although it is often thought of as Italy’s smaller cousin, the culture and history of Sicily is very much its own. Erupting from the beautiful Mediterranean Sea is an island that is home to a dazzling diversity of landscapes and cultural treasures – one that has been enticing travellers and gathering influences for thousands of years. Join Peroni Nastro Azzurro as we discover Sicily’s rich and varied culture and take you on a tour that will see you admiring ancient Norman fortresses and Roman villas, tasting delicious regional dishes and taking in traditional theatre.
We’ve written before about Sicily’s distinct architecture, and with good reason. With a vast range of influences including Byzantine, Arabic, Baroque, Roman and gothic architecture, Sicily’s historic buildings are as varied as they are unique. From the ancient ruins at Agrigento’s Valley of the Temples to the opulent churches of Val di Noto, the island is full of incredible architecture that could only be found in Sicily.
The Tradition of the Opera dei Pupi
If you want to discover a truly traditional and authentic piece of Sicilian culture, you’d be well advised to check out the Opera dei Pupi – Sicily’s famous puppet operas. This fascinating art form first emerged in Sicily in the early 19th century, and despite advances in technology, the Opera dei Pupi has remained relatively unchanged since then. Head to one of Sicily’s charming puppet festivals or beautiful museums and you’ll find that highly skilled puppeteers continue to use their characteristic marionette puppets to tell captivating stories of medieval chivalry, heroic saints and notorious bandits.
A Feast for the Senses
Just like the mainland of Italy, one of the Sicily’s most prized and loved creations is its food. The island has become renowned worldwide for its culinary prowess, and it owes much of its success to its rich farmland, easy access to the sparkling Mediterranean Sea and wide collection of historical influences, as well as its outstanding chefs. You’ll find regional specialities all across the island, but some of our favourites are Catania’s pasta alla norma, Palermo’s pane con la milza and, of course, Sicily’s much loved arancini.
A Rich History
Standing proudly as the largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily has been a cultural crossroads for over 3000 years – a trait that has led to a unique culture taking influence from ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans and central Europe. Visitors will be able to find stunning traces of these varied cultures all over the island, from the imposing Norman fortress in Cefalu and the Roman Villa Romana del Casale to the spectacular Byzantine mosaics at Martorana. With a story this fascinating and a sprawling array of cultures blending together, it’s no surprise that Sicily is so popular with historians and travellers alike.
From the Mountains to the Sea
Despite all its man-made marvels and incredible stories, Sicily’s culture is ultimately shaped by its spectacular natural landscape. The towering Mt Etna gives the island a sense of drama and passion, while the shimmering sea and gorgeous beaches that surround Sicily offer a more serene and relaxing beauty. Add to that the majestic national parks, lemon-scented gardens and enchanting wildlife and it’s easy to see why the many travellers who have helped to shape Sicily’s culture were so attracted to the island in the first place.