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Ooaj Travel Guide, tourism, hotel reservation, residence, plane, cheap pension for you holidays in sicily
Free Travel guide Ooaj.com A free travel guide for holidays. Hotels in sicily, Bed and Breakfast!
Sicily (Sicilia) is a rugged and attractive island on the southern tip of Italy, and is one of the country's 20 regions. It is separated from the mainland region of Calabria by the 5km Straits of Messina. It can get very hot during the Summer, so it is better to visit during Spring and Autumn, whilst it is still quite pleasant during Winter.
The natives actually speak a language called Sicilian. It is an ancient, entirely separate Romance language that is comprised of many different languages (Spanish, Latin, French, Arabic, among others) and is mutually unintelligible with Italian.
Most Sicilians are proficient in Italian and modern day schools are teaching English to students. Be advised that when traveling to small villages, the people (especially the older residents) may not speak Italian.
Catania is the larger airport, with domestic flights to most parts of Italy, some international routes and many charter flights.
Palermo is smaller, although growing, with a range of domestic flights and a few international budget flights.
Large, slow car ferries link Palermo with Naples, Genoa, Livorno, Sardinia and other Merranean destinations. The are also car ferries between Milazzo, the Aeolian Islands and Naples, and between Trapani and Tunis. See Central Med Ferries (http://uk.geocities.com/my_ferries/centralmed.html)
Across the Straits of Messina, there are at least hourly ferries between Messina on Sicily and Villa San Giovanni on the mainland. There are also several hydrofoils each day between Messina and Reggio di Calabria.
Be careful, although public transport is very good during the week, there are not many services on Sundays - check the timetable carefully and ask the locals.
The railway network in Sicily is quite good and cheap. Regular, quite fast trains run on the main lines between Messina and Palermo and Catania, with fewer trains on the other routes. See www.trenitalia.com
The bus network is Sicily is quite extensive and cheap. The main hubs are Palermo and Catania, but routes link most of the main towns frequently and most small towns at least once a day. From virtually everywhere you will be able to get a bus direct to Palermo.
There are regular ferries and hydrofoils from Sicily to it's Islands, although services are somewhat reduced during Spring and Autumn and even more so during Winter. For timetables see a summary at: Booking Italia (http://www.bookingitalia.it/navi-aliscafi-sicilia.htm) or the individual companies: SIREMAR (http://www.siremar.it/), Ustica Lines (http://www.usticalines.it) and NGI (http://www.ngi-spa.it/home.html). The main routes are:
If you have less time and more money, there are flights to Pantelleria and Lampedusa.
Making the most of it's island coasts, Sicily has some of the world's best cuisine to offer. Much of the island's food is made with creatures of the sea. Unlike the northern parts of Italy, cream and butter are hardly used for typical dishes in Sicily. Instead, the natives usually substitute tomatoes, lard (rarely) or olive oil. The cuisine is very exotic and has many spices and unique flavors to offer. Sicilians cultivate a uniquely Sicilian type of olive tree, which they affectionately call the "saracena". The food is typically Merranean but there are strong hints of Arabic and Spanish flavor (Sicily was conquered by many people during it's long history). Sicilians like spices and have particular affinity for almond, jasmine, rosemary, mint, olives and basil.
Sicilians have notorious sweet tooths and are among the best dessert makers in Italy. Try the cannoli (tubular pastries filled with sweet ricotta cheese), granita (ices mixed with real crushed fruit and their juices), gelato (Sicilian ice cream) and their most famous export, cassata (Arabic inspired cake). Make sure not to pass up the pine nut and almond cookies, as they are always a crowd pleaser.
Sicilians aren't big alcohol drinkers (Sicily has the lowest rate of alcoholism in all of Italy). However, some good wines are made in the Marsala region.
Sicilians enjoy a fruity lemon liquor called Limoncello during the long, hot, and dry summers.