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There’s no denying Sicily is a gorgeous Mediterranean island that’s filled with plenty to see and do. Just taking in the beauty of the Sicilian countryside is a breathtaking occasion. And the food is so delicious and so diverse, drawing from the multi-cultural influence of Greece, France, Spain and Arab countries and of course Italy.

You may be scratching your head thinking “of course Italy influences Sicily! Sicily is part of Italy!” And while you would be correct these two places are as similar as they are very different. Let’s take a look at both Sicilian and Italian cultures and why we love them both.

Landscapes and Vistas of Italy and Sicily

While Italy is known for some of the most fascinating sights in the world, cities brimming with culture and history, beautiful if not precariously perched coastal villages, majestic mountains,  lush rolling hills and acres and acres of vineyards, Sicily has some pretty cool things to offer as well. The unique landscapes and terrain are in part thanks to the inactive and active volcanoes that share the island.

Mt. Etna is an active volcano and one of the most widely known. As the sun sets over this Mediterranean marvel and night falls you can even see the fiery red glow of the volcanic plume of the lava flows in areas around Sicily. Mt. Etna is Europe’s most active volcano and the most monitored volcano in the world. Did you know NASA reports being able to see the volcanic plume from space?

The waters off of Sicily’s coastline are dotted with small islands. The archipelago of Sicily’s Aeolian Islands, comprising Lupari, Vulcana, Salina, Alicudi, Filicudi, Stromboli and Panarea (and five even smaller islands) are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The gorgeous Baroque style architecture on display throughout Sicily’s towns and authentically rustic villages are intriguing and charming at the same time.

So Much History and Culture to Enjoy

Of course the history and historical sites throughout Italy are seemingly endless. From Renaissance art and architecture to Alberobello’s fascinating fairytale village of the charming homes called Trulli, the canals of Venice to the splendor of Rome and so much more Italy is overflowing with history and culture.

Sicily, on its own, has plenty of history and culture to offer too. And as a cultural crossroads of sorts you’ll find evidence of the Greeks, Arabs, Romans, Normans, French and British throughout the island. And you’ll also find remnants of the earlier Phoenicians who ruled the Mediterranean long before any of the others. Roman ruins, Grecian temples and a spectacular Norman palace all have their place in Sicilian towns and villages. Every one of these rulers who once occupied Sicily have left their imprint and that’s what makes Sicily so unique.

Tradition is A Big Part of Italian and Sicilian Life

Italy’s cities, towns and villages all have wonderful traditions. The open air markets with vendors selling everything from clothing to produce and ready-to-enjoy street foods, street fairs and celebrations and church bells ringing to commemorate a significant event are common throughout the country. Feast days of the patron saints of different communities are another reason for a celebration. The wine flows, the food is passed around and families come out to gather and have fun with their neighbors.

Sicilians also honor these traditions in a similar way along with their close knit families and faithful communities. On any given day the hustle and bustle throughout Sicily comes to a halt between 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm so the merchants and business owners may spend those hours with family and friends. Sicilians enjoy long, leisurely lunches and may amble about as they relax before the evening commences. The true value is found in spending time with those you love and care about. A beautiful tradition indeed.


Food is a big part of culture throughout Italy, including the island of Sicily. Of course you’ll find outstanding pasta dishes and mouth watering and delicious versions for pizza. This is technically Italy, after all. And the influence is obvious. But this island in the Mediterranean offers up some pretty sumptuous seafood, with fresh tuna and swordfish a common menu item.

Scalia Anchovies are a Sicilian delicacy you must enjoy. Whole anchovies are packed in salt and a bit of brine for a taste that’s as intense as it is pure. All around the world foodies and chefs alike covet this Sicilian delight.

You’ll find caponata  is the appetizer served nearly everywhere you dine. Authentic Sicilian caponata includes fried or sauteed eggplant, celery, carrots, bell peppers, and sometimes even potatoes. These vegetables are combined with olive oil, tomato sauce, olives and capers and, frequently, raisins and pine nuts. Of course there are several different versions of caponata depending on the area of the island you dine as well as the seasonal produce included in the appetizer. Sometimes seafood and fish are included in this oh-so-flavorful and delicious dish.

One of Sicily’s favorite foods is their version of arancini. A rice croquette of sorts stuffed with various meats, meat sauce, vegetables and cheese, the Sicilian version differs, for the most part, only in shape. Throughout Italy you’ll find the deep fried croquettes are round and obviously shaped like the fruit for which they are named; the orange. In Sicily however the arancini are more cone-shaped and pay a sort of culinary homage to Mt. Etna.

Finally, we have Sicily to thank for the creation of that iconic Italian dessert, the cannoli. The crisp and flaky shell is filled with sheep’s milk ricotta-always. Never will you find true Sicilian cannoli filled with cream or custard. For the most part Sicilians are easygoing but if you want to rile one up ask for cream or custard filling in your cannoli!

Sicilian and Italian Language

Sicilians speak their dialect as well as Italian. However there are differences in the form of Italian spoken in Sicily versus that spoken in, say, Naples. Here you’ll find Sicilian words and vernacular interspersed throughout everyday conversations. You may wonder what the difference is between the two languages.

Sicilian is a language all its own. The roots of Sicilian words go back to the various countries that occupied the island over millennia. An amalgamation of Arabic, Hebrew, Byzantine and Norman make up the Sicilian language. Even as Italian has taken over as the main language of Sicily it is a form of Italian that those from Italy have a hard time understanding. Combined with the Sicilian accent, structure and dialect, even though it's considered Italian, it's a language all its own.

The Best of Both

Two cultures that may seem very different but are still considered compatrioti. Yes, Sicily is a part of Italy but it is also a unique culture all its own. Come enjoy the best of both worlds with us.

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