IG Holidays

The 10 most beautiful villages of Sicily

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How many times have you wanted to treat yourself to a relaxing holiday, to contemplate a splendid landscape, breathing clean air and sipping a good glass of Etna DOC?

To stroll in a square with open-air bars and lose yourself in a maze of narrow streets, with your nose turned up, among flowered windowsills and bell towers, noble palaces and pot-bellied balconies, peering into the courtyards.

Dreams and wishes can come true: it’s time to visit the splendid Sicilian villages.

Small towns by the sea, surrounded by greenery, set inland or perched on the mountains, will offer you what you are looking for, among small curiosities and new discoveries, such as houses carved into the rock and inhabited until the last century or the film set most famous of all time.

In each of the nine Sicilian provinces, you will find the village that’s right for you and, nearby, many other places, perhaps less renowned but which will remain forever in your heart.

Places and holidays on a human scale, to be experienced in company and in safety, where the watchword is “uncontaminated”, just like the village you have chosen.

We are used to thinking of Sicily as an island of sea, sun and beautiful cities bursting with color and vitality. Yet it is not only this, in addition to the natural and folkloric beauties, the largest island in Italy offers the possibility of visiting truly unique villages where the important past of this land re-emerges among alleys and ancient monuments. 

So let’s see the 10 most beautiful villages in Sicily:

1. Savoca (Messina)

Small alleys, cisterns dug into the rock and ancient buildings rich in history characterize the medieval village of Savoca, famous above all because it is one of the famous sets of the film “The Godfather” with its Bar Vitelli. The houses in the historic center separated by overhangs and rock are populated by the elderberry plant which gave the town its name. The best way to visit this city is through the “seven faces of Savoca”, the seven different panoramic points of the village from which it is possible to admire the 12th century Mother Church, the Pentefur castle, perhaps built by the Arabs and then enlarged by the Normans, the medieval city gate, the church of San Michele (13th century) and that of San Nicolò which houses the statue of the patron saint of Savoca, Santa Lucia. This village represents Sicily in all its aspects, from its cinematographic role to its important history, an ideal destination for capturing the charm of this island.

2. Petralia Soprana (Palermo)

The peculiarity of this center in the province of the capital is offered by the three viewpoints: that of Loreto (called u castru) which embraces Etna Enna, Caltanissetta and the valley of the river Imera; that of the Carmine which offers the panorama of western Sicily towards Palermo; and that of Piazza Duomo which turns east towards Gangi. The village is populated by beautiful squares: piazza Loreto with the Santa Maria di Loreto; San Michele square; piazza del Popolo and piazza Frate Umile. But the most scenic square in the city is certainly Piazza Duomo, with the Mother Church dedicated to the Apostles Peter and Paul, the bell tower from the Norman period and the eighteenth-century one. A city to be experienced in its entirety, therefore, and to be explored in all its spaces and panoramas.

3. Castiglione di Sicilia (Catania)

Located over 600 meters above sea level, a few km from Giardini-Naxos, the panorama that surrounds this village offers an exceptional variety of landscapes. From the imposing Etna volcano to the woods, from the orange groves to the Alcantara gorges, the nature that surrounds the small town in the province of Catania attracts explorers and adventurers from everywhere. The town, perched on a slope, dominates the bank of the Alcantara river and has a historic center full of monuments to visit: the ancient Cameni district with the church of Sant’Antonio (1601); the church of San Pietro, built in 1105 by the will of the Norman count Ruggero d’Altavilla; the Byzantine Castelluccio (Castidduzzu) and the basilica of the Madonna della Catena, the most important church in the town and the castle of Ruggero di Lauria (12th century) whose importance gave the town its name. The district offers many other natural beauties and historical evidence of the important past of this small village.

4. Marzamemi (Syracuse)

This suggestive seaside village is set in the Ionian Sea and surrounded by clear and inviting waters. The main attraction of the city is certainly the seventeenth-century tonnara, typical of fishing villages. Next to this are the two natural ports of Fossa and Balata which offer a view of the enchanting beaches of the village. The narrow streets and the sailors’ houses add charm to the center whose views remain impressed in the eyes of the visitors. A real postcard, ideal to photograph and carry the memory with you forever.

6. Montalbano Elicona (Messina)

Dominating the profile of this village is the castle built on pre-existing Byzantine and Arab structures, in the Norman-Swabian period. The building is one of the most important medieval testimonies of the whole of Sicily and reflects, in its numerous architectural phases, the different foreign dominations on the territory. The village winds along a rocky promontory; next to the castle is the church of Santa Caterina (1300) while entering the historic center you can get lost among the fifty medieval houses restored and used as hotels. From the Portello viewpoint you can admire the peaks of the Nebrodi, Capo Milazzo and the Aeolian Islands.

7. Ferla (Syracuse)

The small town in the Val di Noto was completely rebuilt after the earthquake of 1693. The Baroque architecture and natural beauties have earned it the Unesco title of “World Heritage Site”. The entire area of Ferla is populated by rock complexes ranging from the Greek to the Christian era, from the Byzantines to the Lombards and from the Arabs to the Normans. The via Sacra, so called because the five religious buildings of the historic center stand here, is the main road from which to start to visit the baroque monuments of the city and its beautiful centre. The surrounding countryside, characterized by Sicilian crops, offers a sunny and pleasant panorama.

8. Erice (Trapani)

Erice stands on a mountain, the ancient seat of worship of the goddess of fertility Astarte to whom the Phoenicians dedicated a temple in this area. The patron goddess of sailors, she continued to be celebrated in later times as well. The Norman castle of Venus (12th-13th century) still stands out on the profile of the historic center and is visible from miles away. The village begins from Porta Trapani, beyond which Corso Vittorio Emanuele opens up with the Baroque facades of the surrounding buildings. There are many churches in the city and they range from the Norman era to the 1800s. The mother church is located near the Cyclopean walls of the Elimo-Phoenician period (VIII-VII century BC) and was erected by King Frederick of Aragon. Also worth a visit is the Spanish Quarter, built in the 17th century. The village fully reflects its nature as a melting pot of cultures and ancient populations.

9. Monterosso Almo (Ragusa)

In this mountain village, time seems to have stopped. The narrow streets, the Arab area, the squares and the Baroque churches are framed by the mountains of Ragusa and the Iblean countryside. The main square of the city is crowned by the church of San Giovanni Battista, located on a natural terrace on a wide staircase, surrounded by the precious nineteenth-century and neoclassical noble palaces. The ancient peasant houses still overlook the highest part of the town until you enter the ancient district of the Cava, which retains its original medieval appearance. At the end of the village is the area called “Affacciata” which offers a wonderful view of the valley of the Amerillo river.

10. Sambuca di Sicilia (Agrigento)

The historic center of this village in the province of Agrigento reflects, in its urban planning, two of the most significant historical moments of the area: the Arab one with its residences around the Zabut fortress, and the 16th-18th century one (outside the walls). The main avenue (Umberto I) with its elegant sandstone buildings connects to the oldest alleys of the city with its 250 historic courtyards and thirteen churches. The Arab quarter with its tangled alleys has an almost labyrinthine conformation; a casbah in which to get lost in observing the remains of the ancient domination, from here you move to the Baroque area mainly represented by the historic buildings and the churches in the city: Santa Caterina d’Alessandria, the casino of the Marquises Beccadelli, the church of Carmine and Panitteri palace. The urban planning of Sambuca reflects very different architectural styles and historical eras, visiting it means being able to appreciate the two faces of a center whose history continues to evolve.