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Bays, volcanoes and baroque villages. The ten most beautiful places in Sicily

Palermo

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View of the center of Palermo. Adobe Stock / Kavalenkava

The capital of Sicily is gradually changing. Pedestrian streets and squares multiply, markets like Ballarò or Capo offer delicious street food experiences without the city losing its soul. Palermo remains a fantastic piece of ramshackle palaces, countless churches including the Palatine Chapel and the Martorana, majestic views and upstart working-class neighborhoods like Calsan.

to do climb the beautiful city of Montreal, high above Palermo, for its 12th-century cathedral covered in golden mosaics, an absolute masterpiece of Arab-Norman architecture.

Cephalo

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Cefalu city beach. ERIC MARTIN / Le Figaro Magazine

70 km east of Palermo, this little postcard beach resort is nestled under an impressive cliff at La Rocca, along a beautiful golden sand beach where colorful boats wait to set sail (you won’t be alone in summer). Cefalù is home to a castle-like Norman cathedral in the main square. You should get lost in the steep streets lined with baroque palaces next to fishermen’s houses where laundry hangs, admire the sea views, dive into the crystal clear water and enjoy an ice cream in the old port.

to do Rocca promenade with good walking shoes to admire from above Cefalù.

Valley of the Temples in Agrigento

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Agrigento is home to twelve ancient Greek temples. Adobe Stock / afinoocchiaro

Located on the southern coast of Sicily, Agrigento is an archaeological treasure. twelve Greek temples built in preserved for some, such as the Temple of Juno, the Temple of Concord, and the Temple of Hercules, while others have only a few columns. The beauty of the UNESCO World Heritage site is unique, especially early in the morning before the arrival of tourists.

to do disembark at Scala dei Turchi, a pristine white limestone cliff that contrasts with the turquoise sea, a few kilometers from Agrigento.

Baroque cities

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Sunrise over Ragusa. THOMAS GOISK / Le Figaro Magazine

In the southeast of Sicily, several cities surprise with their large homogeneous Baroque architecture, as they were all rebuilt after a devastating earthquake in the 18th century. With its richly decorated limestone buildings, Noto, nicknamed the “stone garden”, is one of the best examples. As for Raguz, it transports the visitor to another era. Modica, located on a rocky outcrop, is also worth visiting for its beautiful churches exposed to the sun.

to do Detour through Scicli, nestled in a valley, just as beautiful as its neighbors but less touristy.

Zingaro Reserve

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The Zingaro Reserve is one of the wildest in Sicily. Adobe Stock / e55evu

To the west of Palermo, between the villages of Scopello and San Vito Lo Capo, this 1,700 hectare reserve covers 7 km of coastline. The reserve, considered one of the wildest places in Sicily, is home to a very rich flora and many species of birds. Among the many trails, the one along the sea leads to enchanting coves. If the people closest to Scopello are often crowded, you just have to get away from them to find paradise.

to do Discover the Tonnara di Scopello, once a top tuna fishing spot that has been converted into an open-air museum, set in a cove of great beauty.

Syracuse

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Syracuse from the sea. Adobe Stock / funkyfrogstock

The birthplace of Archimedes is worth visiting first in its historic center of Ortigia, located on an island connected to the mainland by a bridge. You should stroll through its narrow streets to the remains of the Temple of Apollo, admiring the ornate facades of the Baroque palaces, the most beautiful of which are located in Piazza del Duomo. The archaeological park of Naples and its magnificent Roman amphitheater are invisible in the new city.

to do a bucolic walk between the troglodyte tombs of the Pantalika Necropolis, surrounded by green gorges and deep canyons.

Aeolian Islands

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The view of Vulcano Island from Lipari. Adobe Stock / jiduha

These 7 fabulous islands off the northern coast of Sicily have something to satisfy all tastes. Divers will be drawn to the Greco-Roman ruins of Filikudi, while its neighbor Lipari will tempt travelers in search of silence and wild beauty. Hikers will have fun on the steep paths of Salina and will recover their strength by tasting the local wine of Malvasia. In Vulcano, heat-lovers will dive into sulphurous mud baths, as all the islands are volcanic, even if Stromboli is the only active volcano.

to do on a boat, at night admire the explosions of Stromboli reflected in the calm sea.

Trapani and Paceco Salt Pans Nature Reserve

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The last active salt factory in Sicily. LAURENT FABRE / Le Figaro magazine

Between Trapani and Marsala are the last active saltworks in Sicily, operated since Phoenician times. This 1000 hectare area consists of basins depending on their salinity. The intense blue sky sets off the whiteness of the salt piles that glisten like snow in the sun. WWF runs tours of the site, which is home to many humps, and an informative salt museum housed in an old mill.

to do take a ferry to the small island of San Pantaleo, home to the remains of the city of Mozia, an ancient Phoenician colony.

Etna

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The first rays of the sun on Etna in Taormina. ERIC MARTIN / Le Figaro Magazine

Active for over 500,000 years, Europe’s highest volcano dominates the eastern coast of Sicily at 3,350 meters. You can feel its rumble and watch its eruption waves from Catania or Taormina. If many volcanologists hear its breath, experienced hikers or curious tourists can climb it. The cable car descends to an altitude of 2500 m, where it is then possible to continue by 4×4 or on foot to 2800 m without a guide or reach the summit with an experienced guide.

to do Do a wine tasting at a famous wine estate on the slopes of Etna.

Alcantara Gorge

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Alcantara Gorge, north of Taormina. Adobe Stock / XtravaganT:

This canyon, located 20 km north of Taormina, was carved by numerous lava flows that froze over thousands of years after the passage of the icy waters of the Alcantara River. This phenomenon has formed narrow walls several tens of meters high and concrete in dreamlike shapes. The most famous and impressive canyon is located in Fondaco Motta, which stretches for 6 km, of which only the first 3 are easily passable.

to do try body rafting, complete with snorkeling gear and helmet. Guaranteed sensations.

Source: Le Figaro

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