The Island used to be independent from the mainland before 1860, when it was known as the Kingdom of Sicily. It has an enormous number of historical and archaeological sites, beautiful scenery and rare birdlife. The wealth and importance of this Island is due to its fertile soils which made for productive olive, fruit and wine groves. The port of Messina, Palermo and Catinia became important trading ports for the Island over the years, and that still holds today. With the abundance of good fish the fishing ports of Mazara de Vallo, Catellamare, Licata, Portopalo and Scoglitti also grew.
The "Valley of the Temples" at Agrigento, shows the best examples of Greek architecture, which dates back to the 5th century BC. There are hotels and villas to rent nearby, should you wish to spend more time here. There are also good English speaking guides which give tours of the Temples. The coast between Agrigento and Trapani has white gypsum and lime stone cliffs forming a rugged scene. The Turks invaded here and built the stairway which is visible today.
Near Tapani are the Aegadian Islands which are famous for their caves. The largest of the Islands is known as Favignana and the village is the only place that still practises the ancient Arabic fishing techniques called "mattanza" used for trapping and killing the tuna. The beaches of Cala Rossa and Cala Minnola is the main reason this area has become popular as the white sands are protected sea makes it a picture perfect resting place. On the other two islands of Marettimo and Levanzo, the local activities also evolve around the fishing of tuna.
For scuba diving and those enjoying quiet and undisturbed landscape then the archipelago islands of Pelagie, which lie just off the Agrigento coast between Malta and Tunisia is a desirable yachting location. There are two other Islands known as Lampione and Linosa. The rocks are limestone and have been eroded over the centuries to form beautiful inlets and grottos. The Islands are also the nesting place for the Caretta-Caretta turtle.
One of the most beautiful towns on the mainland has to be Syracuse, on the south east coast of Sicily. It is famous for the large number of amphitheatres, and the capital city for the Government during the Roman Era. The Archaeological museum holds large collections of artifacts from the Bronze Age, and Roman Era, and is one of the best in Italy.
The third largest town on the mainland is Messina, which has a large naval and commercial port. It overlooks the strait of Messina. The markets are full of locally farmed produce like lemons, oranges, vegetables, wine and the quality of the fish is excellent. The well protected harbour dates back to the 8th century when the Greeks settled here. It has throughout the centuries been a place of importance and in 1955 the conference for the formation of the E.E.C. was held. Now the port has a light railway which links the harbour and the main town, making it easier for visitors to see many of the beautiful buildings the town has to offer.
Yachting around the Island is very popular in the months between April and November. The ports have between 50 to 100 places, but these do get filled quickly. Some of the best marinas to stay at which has good facilities and amenities are: on the east coast Porto Vecchio
and Porto Nuovo at Catania. In the north Marina Villa Igiea at Palermo, Marina San Nicolo L’Arena in Marina Sude, Marina del Nettuno in Milazzo and Marina di Portorosa in Furnari being one of the largest. In the south Marina Sciacca and in the west Marina Trapani is recommended as good ports to berth.