5 Walks That Highlight the Best of Sicily3 min read
When people romanticize a vacation in Italy, they tend to picture one of a few scenes: navigating the canals of Venice in a gondola, exploring ancient ruins in Rome, walking among vineyards in Tuscany, or perhaps even shopping in Milan.
Often overlooked, but no less captivating, is Sicily. While it is relatively easy and inexpensive to navigate the island by bus, train, and ferry, it’s best to explore on foot once you’ve arrived at your destination. Here are five walks in Sicily that showcase the range of what it has to offer.
Join Sicilians for La Passeggiata
La Passeggiata is a wonderful Italian tradition of taking a leisurely evening stroll along the main thoroughfare or central plaza in town. Joining in the Passeggiata is one of the best ways to experience Sicily’s two largest cities, Palermo and Catania. In Palermo, stroll along Via Maqueda between Quattro Canti and the Massimo Theater. Walk a little further and treat yourself to gelato stuffed in a brioche at popular Brioscia. In Catania, stroll with locals along Via Etnea. Start at Piazza del Duomo and head up the road to Parco Maestranze. Stop in at Pasticceria Savia for arancini – stuffed rice balls coated with breading and fried – to refuel before the walk back.
Hike to the top of Vulcano
It may come as a surprise that volcanoes abound on Sicily. Mt. Etna looms over the city of Catania. Stromboli is one of the planet’s most active volcanoes, known for the regularity of its eruptions, which are best seen at night. For a more accessible volcano climb, consider Vulcano on its eponymous island just off the Sicilian coast. It’s a rigorous but relatively quick one- to two-hour hike to the rim for a glimpse of the crater and panoramic views of the Aeolian Islands. The volcano is dormant, but the lava fields and sulfur steam vents make quite an impression.
Walk Among 2,500-Year-Old Ruins
The Valley of the Temples on the outskirts of Agrigento is the largest archeological site in the world and home to the best-preserved Doric temples outside of Greece. It’s roughly a three-mile round trip walk from the main parking lot to the Tempio di Herra at the eastern edge of the park and back. The star attraction is Tempio della Concordia, which is incredibly well preserved considering it is more than 2,500 years old. The UNESCO World Heritage site is among the most popular tourist destinations in Sicily and has panoramic views of the ocean, Agrigento, and surrounding fields.
Get Lost in Ortygia
The historical center of Siracusa, Ortygia is in fact a small, walled island with two roads linking it to the rest of the city on the mainland. The twisted tangle of narrow streets, many of them open only to pedestrians, makes it all too easy to get lost, but that’s largely the point. Each new turn of the bend reveals quaint shops, lively outdoor cafes and impressive plazas. There’s enough of interest to keep you on the move for hours, exploring every nook and cranny and gazing out on the water from any number of viewpoints.
Hike along Sicily’s Rugged Coast
The four miles of coastline between Scopello and San Vito Lo Capo, established as the Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro in 1981, are stunning. The trail hugs steep slopes as mountains meet the sea in dramatic fashion. The hike itself is worthy of a visit and several small museums along the way share information about the local flora, fauna, and marine life. For many, however, the biggest draws are the secluded beaches nestled in small coves, accessible only by foot via side trails leading down to the water’s edge. If you go, bring plenty of food, water, and sunscreen, as the reserve has limited services and little shade.