Small Hotels in Sicily: Quiet, Romantic Hotels on the Mediterranean’s Largest Island
Palermo: The Mediterranean’s Cultural Crossroads
The enticing capital of Sicily, Palermo is one of Italy’s most unique cities. Its location between Africa and Europe has gifted the city with a rich blend of cultures, showcased in its architecture and vibrant markets. A small hotel in Sicily’s capital is a great way to visit some of the city’s most stunning sites, such as the rich interiors of the Norman Palazzo dei Normanni – Europe’s oldest royal palace, built in the 9th century. Further dramatic sites of historic importance can be found all over city, including the beautiful 12th century Palermo Cathedral with its royal tombs, and the breathtaking Byzantine mosaics of the Palatina Chapel. As a center for trade and commerce, the city’s outdoor markets are still a highlight of any visit with a small hotel in Sicily. La Vucciria is not just popular in Sicily, but it’s one of the most visited markets in the country. Overflowing with colors, sounds, smells and ‘hubbub’ – the literal translation – La Vucciria can be found in the side streets around Piazza San Domenico throughout the week, selling everything from fresh produce to cheap trinkets to take home. If you want to get out of town and hit the beach, Palermo’s location on the northern coast makes it easy to visit Mondello for a dip in the ocean. The town’s long sandy beach lapped by warm, clear Mediterranean waters is only one hour via public transport from the heart of Palermo.
Ragusa & Mount Etna: Sicily’s Geologic Wonders
Small and romantic hotels in Sicily may also come with views of the island’s most famous site – Mount Etna. This dramatic volcano is still active, provides the highest point on the island, and is the highest volcano in Europe, and as a result falls into the backdrop of many Sicilian landscapes. The region features a multitude of attractions which make Etna and its surroundings a must-visit while on vacation in Sicily. For active couples looking for adventure, Etna provides Nordic Skiing and even downhill slopes on the north and south sides of the mountain during winter, and the nature trails of surrounding Etna Park wind through lush forests and lunar landscapes. South of Etna is the Provence of Ragusa, an area of Sicily with lots of small hotels near to some fantastic UNESCO-listed wonders. Ragusa town is divided in two by the deep Valle dei Ponti ravine, with the lower Ragusa Ibla featuring a jumble of 18th century Baroque architecture, winding streets and romantic piazzas. Nearby Modica is another town of historic and cultural importance in Sicily. Home to a lively atmosphere and stunning baroque cathedral, it’s an ideal location for a small hotel in Sicily if you plan on spending time exploring the south of the island. Both Ragusa and Modica were leveled by an earthquake in the 17th century, which destroyed much of the province and eastern coastline.
Catania & Syracuse: Dramatic Coastlines & Ancient History
Combine beautiful coastlines with ancient history when you stay with a small hotel along Sicily’s eastern coast. The best location to take advantage of Mount Etna, Catania is student city and therefore boasts a youthful and magnetic energy. It’s also is a great location if you want to spend some time at the beach, as the volcanic surroundings have resulted in kilometers of sandy coastline and rocky outcrops. North of Catania is a stretch of coast known as Riviera dei Ciclopi, a Marine Protected Area which offers plenty of rocky inlets, pebbled beaches and sandy coves. Back in the city, the 18 kilometers of La Playa is most popular with the locals, and offer breathtaking views of Etna in the distance and a host of evening entertainment on the shore. For travelers looking to uncover the island’s ancient past, then a small hotel near Syracuse should not be overlooked. Amazingly, Syracuse was once the biggest in the Ancient world; with beginnings stretching all the way back to 734 BC. The ruins of the original settlement can be found in the Parco Archeologico della Neapolis, featuring the vast 16,000-person capacity Teatro Greco dating from the 5th century BC. The most picturesque part of Syracuse is arguably the island of Ortygia, which features lovely coastal boardwalks, historic landmarks and plenty of relaxed bars and restaurants overlooking the water. A peaceful, small hotel in Sicily is the perfect way to enjoy the endless charm of the Mediterranean’s largest island.