Sicily is often nicknamed Trinacria because of its triangular shape, which makes the island easy to navigate. Messina, the gateway to mainland Italy and the Ionian Coast, stands in the northeasternmost corner, while Palerno and the rest of the Tyrrhenian Coast form the northern corner. Southern Sicily extends from Syracuse on the island’s east to Marsala on the southwest coast.
The best place to begin a Sicilian vacation is a day or two in Taormina, followed by some time in lively Catania if time permits. Visitors should also spend at least a couple of days in Syracuse before heading towards the sleepy mountain community of Enna and the spectacular mosaics of Piazza Armerina.
After exploring the ruins of Selinunte and Agrigento’s ancient Greek temples, Erice is an ideal place to spend the night. At least a couple of days, preferably four or five, should be devoted to exploring Sicily’s sprawling capital, Palermo. Although most Sicilian cities aren’t easy to navigate by car, most of their attractions lie within easily walkable city centres and maps can easily be obtained online or at municipal tourist information offices.
Unlike in central and northern Italy, topless sunbathing is frowned upon in Sicily and strolling around towns in skimpy shorts or beach attire is considered rude. Laundry facilities and dry cleaners are tough to locate outside of the largest cities and many hotels lack swimming pools, English television, or special programs to entertain children. Children’s menus are also virtually unheard of in Sicilian restaurants.
Many museums prohibit flash photography and close altogether on Monday. Many clothing shops and hairdressers also close on Sunday, Monday, or both days. Churches often close for three to four hours during the afternoon before reopening for a few more hours before the evening. Banks are typically only open on weekday mornings and early afternoons.