The hanging bridge that will cross the strait of Messina and bind together Italy with Sicily will be the longest in the world. The hour that it takes, today, to get there with the ferry from Reggio Calabria will be lowered to six minutes by car.
If this will happen – needless to say it’s been a while we are hearing about the bridge- nothing will change the fact that Sicily in many ways will remain autonomous, culturally as well as politically, as it is now. The triangular island on the other side of the strait is separated by many things, not only water, in many case more than that.
Sicily is surrounded by several groups of islands: the Aeolian islands, the Aegadian islands, and the Pelagian islands which are the largest. And other islands as Ustica and Pantelleria that are very well-known islands themselves.
In the north of Sicily there are the famous Aeolian islands. The volcanic islands of Lipari, Vulcano, Salina, Alicudi, Filicudi, Panarea and Stromboli look like a collection of black, stern peaks rising from the sea with olives, chestnuts, almond and fig trees that incredibly grow on the volcano’s slopes. A very pleasant experience if you want to take a tour on the islands or if you want to cruise them by renting a boat. You will love these beaches like black velvet and swimming in Vulcano’s hot springs.
The Aegadian islands are in the west of Sicily: Favignana, Levanzo and Marettimo are the largest, while Formica and Maraone are smaller. Marettimo, the farthest from the main land, has a flora and fauna of great importance. Many species already extinct in Sicily are still alive here. The Aegadian islands can be reached by the ferry from Trapani.
The Pelagian islands, in the south of Sicily, are unique because of their proximity to Africa. Lampedusa, the main island surrounded by the small islands of Conigli, Linosa and Lampione is actually closer to Tunisia and Malta than Italy.
Sicily is rich of history as well: in 1874, the first hotel opened in Taormina helped somehow the little town to conquer the attribute “piece of paradise” used by Goethe in his book, “The Italian Journey”. Taormina offers an incredible view over the Naxos bay, where the rustic and the mundane are mixed so well and the panoramic view over the Etna and the sea is nothing but magnificent.
The presence of Etna, the tallest active volcano in Europe, is notable everywhere in the northeast side of the island. In the night, the leaking lava on the peak is visible like red wounds in the black sky. Smaller outbursts are not unusual. Villages climb high up on the slopes of Etna. The lava earth is fertile and oranges, lemons and olive trees grow like weeds on Etna’s back. As long as the volcanoe is not too active one can walk pretty close to the peak. When going further than 900 m. above the sea level it’s better to continue in a jeep with a guide.
In the eastern side of the island, it is located the fascinating town of Siracuse. The town stretches into the sea like a tongue, with the island Ortigia on the tip. In Ortigia, you can see the old part of Siracuse, a labyrinth of small alleys, brightly coloured fishing boats and turquoise waters. Architecturally this part of town is stuck somewhere between medieval and baroque times offering to the visitors an amazing back in times.
In the northwest side of the island besides Palermo, the dynamic capital of Sicily, there is the bathing beach resort, Cefalù. Even if this is Sicily’s second largest touristic place for its size and fame, Cefalù still preserves the character is of a Sicilian small town: good relaxing habits, healthy food based on the Mediterranean diet and lots of restaurants to choose. The small town offers entertainment for the shopaholic as well: the famous Via Vittorio Emanuele never disappointed anyone!