The Rough Guide to Sicily Region Map (Rough Guide Country/Region Map)

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9781843533115: The Rough Guide to Sicily Region Map (Rough Guide Country/Region Map)

Sicily is one of Europe's most fascinating islands with attractions and activities ranging from the spectacular Greek temples and Roman mosaics to established beach resorts and bustling market towns. "The Rough Guide" map will make exploring the island by car that much simpler with information on all the routes from motorways to unsurfaced tracks. The map pinpoints the location of many attractions and places of interest, including golf courses, churches, monasteries, palaces and archaeological sites. As with all the maps in the "Rough Guides" series, this map is made of rip-proof, waterproof Polyart paper, durable enough to survive a trip spent in the car seat-back, rucksack, and cafe table-top.

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Produced for Rough Guides by the World Mapping Project

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

WHERE TO GO

Set in a wide bay at the foot of a fertile valley, the capital, Palermo, is one of Italy’s most visually striking cities, boasting some of the island’s finest churches, markets, museums and restaurants. It gets hot and stuffy here in summer, though, which makes escapes out of the city all the more tempting: to the fashionable beach at Mondello, the sanctuary on Monte Pellegrino or the church mosaics at Monreale. East of Palermo, the Tyrrhenian Coast provides the first opportunity to climb into the hiking and skiing grounds of the Monti Madonie, and it’s along here that you’ll find one of Sicily’s premier resorts, Cefalù, handily situated just an hour from Palermo.

From Milazzo, ferries and hydrofoils depart to the Aeolian Islands, a chain of seven volcanic islands – including Vulcano and Strómboli – that attract sun-worshippers and adventurous hikers alike. Assorted seasonal holiday towns stretching between Messina – crossing-point to mainland Italy – and the fashionable resort of Taormina, make up the island’s Northern Ionian coast, while Sicily’s second city, east-coast Catania, broods under the graceful cone of Mount Etna, the most memorable of Sicily’s natural attractions.

The finest concentration of historical and architectural sites is arguably in Siracusa, where Classical ruins and stunning Baroque buildings decorate Sicily’s most attractive city. In the southeast region beyond, beautiful towns like Noto and Ragusa were rebuilt along planned Baroque lines after a devastating earthquake in the seventeenth century, though the unique Neolithic cemeteries of Pantálica survived to provide one of Sicily’s most atmospheric backwaters.

After the richness of the southeast towns, many find the simple, isolated grandeur of the interior a welcome change. This is the most sparsely populated region, hiding gems like the well-preserved mosaics at Piazza Armerina, which recall the lavish trappings of Sicily’s Roman governors, and the historic mountain stronghold of Enna. Away from the few interior towns, remote roads wind north, back towards Palermo, through little-visited destinations like Prizzi or Corleone whose names chime with the popular image of Sicily as a nest of Mafia intrigue.

Along the south coast, only the ancient temples of Agrigento and the Greek city and beach at Eraclea Minoa attract visitors in any numbers. Further around the coast, Trápani anchors the west of the island, a great base for anyone interested in delving into the very different character of this side of Sicily. The Arabic influence is stronger here than elsewhere, especially in Marsala and Mazara del Vallo, while Selinunte and Segesta hold the most romantic sets of ancient ruins on the island. It’s from ports on the south and west coasts, too, that Sicily’s most absorbing outlying islands are reached. On Lampedusa and Linosa, on the Égadi Islands and, above all, on distant Pantelleria, the sea is as clean as you’ll find anywhere in the Mediterranean, and you truly feel you’re on the edge of Europe.

WHEN TO GO

Any of these places can be extremely uncomfortable to visit at the height of a Sicilian summer, when the dusty sirocco winds blow in from North Africa; your choice of when to go should take this into consideration. In July and August, you’ll roast – and you’ll be in the company of tens of thousands of other tourists all jostling for space on the beaches, in the museums and at the archeological sites. Hotel availability is much reduced and prices will often be higher in response to demand. If you want the heat but not the crowds, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t go in May, June or September, while swimming is possible right into November. Spring is really the optimum time to come, and it arrives early: the almond blossom flowers in February, and there are fresh strawberries in April. Easter is a major celebration, a good time to see some of the more traditional festivals like the events at Trápani, Érice and Piana degli Albanesi, though again they’ll all be oversubscribed with visitors. Winter is mild by northern European standards and is a nice time to be here, at least on the coast, where the skies stay clear and life continues to be lived very much outdoors. On the other hand, the interior – especially around Enna – can get snowed under, providing skiing opportunities south of Cefalù, at Piano Battáglia, or on Mount Etna, while anywhere else in the interior can be subject to (often considerable) blasts of wind and downpours of rain.

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