Sicily is sunshine, fragrant olive groves, and ancient temples perched high in the hills. It's snatches of conversation in its own dialect, alluring beaches of intensified colours, and the ever-present majesty of Mount Etna on the horizon. You cannot understand Italy without understanding Sicily, and this island is finally getting much-deserved recognition as the Mediterranean gem that it is.
Visit Taormina, perched on a terrace of the Monte Tauro with views of Mount Etna to the west and the Mediterranean in the distance, for a coastal resort feel that is at once as relaxing and as historic as anywhere on Italy's mainland. Taormina hotels are typically opulent, transporting you to a golden age of luxury on your holiday.
Palermo, Sicily's bustling coastal city, is a treasure-trove of palaces and castles hidden in its maze of narrow streets and markets. The old quarter features the crumbling facades of ornate palazzi and the impressive honey-coloured Monreale Cathedral, while the modern new quarter boasts gleaming apartments and boutiques. Orient yourself around one of Palermo's main streets, Via Principe di Belmonte, lined with shops and gourmet restaurants. Palermo has excellent ferry connections with Naples, Cagliari in Sardinia and the island of Malta.
Located in the southeast corner of Sicily, facing the Ionian Sea, Syracuse is a 2,700 year-old city famous for its rich Greek history and as the birthplace of the mathematician Archimedes. Today the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the old town of Ortygia contains a wealth of historical and archaeological gems including the Neapolis (ancient city), Roman Amphitheatre and the Catacombs of San Giovanni, an underground necropolis dating back to the fourth century.
To truly get away from it all, sunny Cefalù on the northern coast of Sicily offers laid-back charm and continues to bewitch visitors, millennia after its founding. Indeed, it's a rare place indeed that pairs a region's finest beaches with one of its greatest architectural wonders. But that's exactly what you'll find here, with miles of golden sands and the azure waters of the Mediterranean watched over by a truly spectacular Norman cathedral.