Sicily is an island located in the Mediterranean Sea. It is close to Tunisia and just off Italy's "boot". It is the largest island in the Mediterranean. Sicily and the other smaller islands surrounding it are part of Italy. The island is popular for its rugged, volcanic landscape, history, culture, and architecture.
Sicily's rich history and culture can be found in sites like the well-preserved Valley of the Temples, which is made of ruins of 7 monumental, Greek temples. And also at the Cappella Palatina, a former royal chapel in the capital Palermo, where you can find Byzantine mosaics.
The people of Sicily are friendly welcoming people. Tourists frequent the island to explore its abundance of adventure. You could choose to simply visit fish markets, museums or explore the eastern edge of Sicily, where Mount Etna, one of Europe's highest volcanoes stands formidable in the landscape. It is also home to some World Heritage sites.
Why should people visit during the winter?
Sicily offers a mild wet winter that stays warm, with snow in some areas. The weather doesn't get too hot that you wish you were home, and it doesn't get too cold either that it feels like you didn't escape the winter. When winter comes, there are usually fewer crowds at many attractions or activities, and snowbirds will enjoy lower costs for purchases and other services during winter.
There is no lack of what to do or see during winter. You can comfortably explore most of the island and not be bored throughout your stay. Snowbirds that visit during the winter will surely have a splendid time.
Sicily has a typical Mediterranean climate. The island experiences hot, dry summers and mild and wet winters, with changeable seasons in between. The average low temperature is 14°C (57°F) and the average high is 25°C (77°F).
For more climate information visit Meteoblue
Many people usually wonder about safety in Sicily because of concerns about street crime, organized crime, and terror activities. However, Sicily is a safe country to visit.
There are hardly any violent crimes. The most common form of crime is petty crime. Purse snatching and muggings occur from time to time and they are not only targeted at tourists. Although these petty crimes don't occur at a high rate, snowbirds must exercise some caution.
Snowbirds shouldn't walk alone in dark streets because you could attract robbers or unsavory male attention. You shouldn't walk around with your valuables, get into unmarked taxis, or leave your luggage unattended to.
Communication, Internet, and cellphone in Sicily
Sicily's mobile networks and services are very efficient and economical. Instead of roaming, which could be very expensive, it will be more practical to make use of a mobile carrier in Sicily. You will probably use the services of TIM, Vodafone or Wind. These providers have coverage in all the cities of Sicily and offer prepaid call and data plans. You could easily purchase a new phone or sim at the airport or phone stores.
Snowbird locations in Sicily
- Val di Noto: located in the south-eastern part of Sicily, Val di Noto comprises eight fascinating towns. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These little but stunning towns are characterized by historic centers like crumbling Baroque palaces, churches, and houses.
- Aeolian Islands: Also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Aeolian Islands are seven small inhabited islands. Snowbirds can see volcanic craters and enjoy stargazing thanks to a law that doesn't allow road lights.
- Taormina: Taormina is a small resort town on the east of Sicily. The town is rich in history that dates as far back as the 4th century. You could easily tell that the resort has a long history from the important monuments, Greek theatre, and cultural activities.
- Cefalu: With its sandy beach and medieval alleys, Cefalù has become a popular seaside resort. Cefalù is worth a visit to admire the panorama from the old port and pier and stroll through its narrow streets full of shops and restaurants.
Things to see in Sicily
- Mount Etna: This is an immense active volcano on the east coast of Sicily, in the city of Catania. It is the largest active volcano in Italy. It is still possible to see smoke trailing into the sky. Snowbirds can explore the area through trails.
- Island of Ortigia: this is a small island in the city of Syracuse, Sicily. It has stone streets. It is also known as Citta Vecchia. The island is home to many historical landmarks.
- Norman Palace: Norman palace or The Palazzo dei Normanni, is an ornate 9th-century palace located in Palermo. It was previously used by kings of Sicily and other forms of government. These days, it is a museum.
- Cattedrale di Palermo: this is a 12th century built catholic cathedral church in Palermo. It is known for its interesting intricate architecture with different styles as a result of changes and restorations over the years.
- Valley of the Temples: snowbirds can visit one of the most outstanding works of Greek art and architecture. Most of the structures here are still in good shape and you could also visit the museum.
Activities in Sicily during winter
- Take a trip to the Aegadian IslandsVisit nature reserves: Nature enthusiasts can have a great time exploring some of the nature reserves in Sicily like Zingaro Nature Reserve and the Monte Cofano Nature Reserve.
- Explore Beaches and Coves: Sicily is blessed with beautiful beaches and coves you could visit. Some might be crowded but there's more than enough options like Scala dei Turchi, Isola Bella, Cala Rossa in Favignana.
- Tours to Archaeological sites: You can go on paid tours to some of the most magnificent ruins and ancient structures you will ever see like the valley of the temples and the Greek Theatre of Taormina.
Shopping + Restaurants. Are they open in the winter?
Seeing as winter is the offseason for tourism in Sicily, you may find many shops that depend on tourist patronage closed during the winter. However, you could shop at some high-end stores that could be found in hotels or plazas. Popular international brand names can be found in the stores. The shopping experience in Sicily might not be so different from your home experience in terms of prices. But at smaller shops, you can purchase your daily needs, local handicraft and souvenirs.
In Sicily, the fine Italian dining experience is very much alive, even in winter. Snowbirds can enjoy the famous Italian dishes or stick with the usual meals they're used to. There's a variety of restaurants like vegan restaurants, seaside restaurants, and more. Feel free to explore with your taste buds dishes like Pasta alla Norma, Pasta con le sarde, panelle, and many more.
You will likely arrive in Sicily at the Catania airport or the Palermo airport. Either way, getting around Sicily is not difficult. There's more than enough functioning means of transportation like trains, cable cars, taxis, buses, ships, and ferries.
From the airport, you could easily find a taxi or bus. Buses are one of the cheapest and most common means of moving around the island. They cover all areas and don't take much time. You could find one at bus stops or through bus companies. Taxis also can be cheap, but ensure that you negotiate a price before setting off to avoid being overcharged.
Trains and cable cars are also available in most cities. They are a slower means of transport but could afford you some time to just take in the environment of Sicily. Tickets could be purchased at train stations. Ships and ferries are a great way to visit neighboring islands or cities. While domestic flights are available, they are expensive considering that it is a small island, and you could get to your destination on time via other means.
There is a wonderful and efficient healthcare system in Sicily. There is a thriving public and private health sector. As an EU citizen, an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) you are entitled to free or cheaper public medical care. Some of these public hospitals, however, may have some waiting time. You could alternatively decide to go for private service, but this could cost you some extra bucks.
The doctors and dentists are well-trained professionals that mostly studied abroad, so they are good and most of them can speak English. Hospitals can be easily found around town, and in cases of emergency, they are obligated to respond to you immediately.
There is no shortage of options in terms of accommodation in Sicily. Snowbirds can choose to stay in villages, seaside apartments or furnished apartments. Rent isn't expensive but it isn't cheap either. Most of these options have modern amenities available. A three-bedroom house in Palermo could cost you $700 (approx. €591, £540, $922 CAD, $960 AUD) every month. Accommodation is cheaper in other cities and towns away from major locations.
Snowbirds can go camping in the winter. Across Sicily, there are several camps you could visit, and you will have to make a reservation. Some of the campgrounds on the island are Camping Scarabeo, Camping Jonio, and Camping Sanfilippo.
For interested snowbirds, there are some RV parks in Sicily, many of which you will have to make a reservation. Some of these locations are Camping Nettuno, Noto parking, and Camper parking Area Catania.