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How to Visit the Best of Sicily, Italy
By:Teo Spengler

The Romans, Greeks and Muslims all left footprints on Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Currently a part of Italy, Sicily was once a great center of Western civilization, as the ruins of temples and palaces attest. Today, tourists flock to Sicily in the summers. While some visitors seek the beautiful beaches, much tourism revolves around the vestiges of ancient civilizations still in evidence. Hitting the highlights of Sicily involves traveling almost all the way around this beautiful island.

Visit Palermo, the bustling Sicilian capital. Take time to walk the narrow streets of the old town and shop the noisy street markets. Have lunch in the charming Piazza Pretoria square and see the Pretoria Fountain.

Admire the wonderful mosaics in Palermo's Palazzo dei Normanni. Head for the Galleria Regionale della Sicilia in the Palazzo Abatellis to see one of the greatest collections of art in all of Sicily. Don't neglect Museo Archeologico Regionale, a world-class archaeological museum, in order to see the 8,000 lifelike mummies of Palermitani entombed here in the eccentric Catacombs of the Capuchins from the late 16th century.

Visit the sights around Palermo. Drive north a half hour from Palermo to Monte Pellegrino for a picnic lunch. Enjoy the panoramic view of the old city and its bay.

Take to the highway southwest to visit a magnificent cathedral, the Monreale Duomo, in the hilltop town of Monreale. Dating from 1174, the Duomo is a superb representation of the Arab-Norman school of architecture. Head 12 miles east of Palermo to explore the ruins of Solunto, set high on the slopes of Monte Catalfano

Undertake a grand motor trip in Sicily by heading south from Palermo along the Tyrrhenian Coast to Messina, 145 miles away. Along the way, stop at the former fishing village of Cefal├╣, walking the main street Corso Ruggero and passing by the Duomo for more stunning mosaics.

Visit the two enormous natural parks of the Madonie and Nebrodi mountains and relax on the gorgeous beaches around Capo d'Orlando and Capo Tindari. Head south from Messina to majestic Mount Etna, the highest and largest active volcano in Europe.

Continue south to the ancient city of Syracuse and start by visiting its unsurpassed archaeological gardens, Parco Archeologico della Neapolis, to see the Teatro Greco -- one of the few great theaters of the classical period still remaining. Also look for the Latomia del Paradiso and Anfiteatro Romano. Visit another fine archaeological museum, Syracuse's Museo Archeologico Regionale Paolo Orsi.

Take time to see Ortygia Island located in the historical center of Syracuse. It contains myriad ancient ruins including the renowned Tempio di Apollo, the Greek temple dedicated to Apollo that dates from the 6th century B.C.

Leave Syracuse and drive 135 miles west to the ancient city of Agrigento, home of the Valle dei Templi (Valley of Temples), one of the most complete remaining sites of the ancient world. Do not miss the Temple of Juno, the Temple of Hercules and the exceptional Temple of Concord, with its 13 columns still standing. Return to the Valle dei Templi at night when the temples are floodlit for a magical experience.

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