Tour of Sicily
Land of the Sun
- Spoken language:
Schengen Area: ID card or passport
Extra U.E.:short stays (3 months) passport valid at least three months after the departing date and if need be visa
- Power and Sockets:
- 230 V / 50 Hz - F Type Plug (Schuko) and L Type Plug
Surely due to its position in the middle of the Mediterranean, to the favourable climate, to the richness of the products of the land and the sea, as well as to the extraordinary and unique beauty of its landscapes, the aspect that more than any other has characterized the entire history of Sicily is the fact that it has always been the object of domination. Its history is made up of conquerors who have dominated it, tyrannyed, destroyed, rebuilt, loved and above all, for good and evil, rendered the extraordinary region that it is today.
The first traces of human settlements date back to prehistoric times, as evidenced by wall paintings and Neolithic artifacts found in the caves of Addaura, near Palermo, or in those of the Egadi and Aeolian islands. The first inhabitants of the island were Sicanians, elimi, ausoni and siculi. But a first, important development took place around the ninth century BC when the Phoenicians arrived on the island, a thriving population of navigators and merchants who founded the first settlements including the future capital Palermo. The Phoenicians will be followed by the Greeks who will create important colonies such as Agrigento, Syracuse, Milazzo, Zancle (now Messina), places where Greek civilization will bring great artistic and cultural ferment. The Greeks founded cities on all the coasts, initially governed by the Oligarchies and then by the Tyrannyds. The one in Syracuse is remembered as the most powerful Tyranny capable of subjugating all the other cities. But soon conflicts began with Carthage who had managed to conquer Mozia, Panormo and Solunto. The wars continued over the years until Rome progressively replaced the Syracusans and definitively defeated the Carthaginian Empire at the end of the three Punic Wars. It was in the Roman age that Sicily became the absolute protagonist of the Mediterranean, the capital meeting point for trade, naval industry and agricultural production, and this primacy lasted also in the Byzantine era and then again during the centuries of Arab domination. The island was first ordained as a Province with a Praetor in Syracuse and two Quaestors, one in Syracuse and the other in Lilibeo, and then later passed under the jurisdiction of the Roman Empire of Constantinople. A new era of peace will be experienced by Sicily now illuminated by Christian faith and Byzantine culture.
But from 827 the island was overwhelmed by the invasion of the Saracens who subjected it to a hard domination. Finally, in the second half of the 11th century Sicily was liberated by a Christian army led by Roberto “il Guiscardo” and by his brother Roger I, of the Altavilla family, who had been sent by the Pontiff of Rome. In 1130 it was thus proclaimed the Kingdom of Sicily and Roger II of Altavilia was crowned as the first King. He enlarged the Sicilian dominion that at the time extended from Montecassino to Albania to the coast of North Africa and Tripolino. Also belonging to the Altavilla dynasty are two other great rulers, William I and his son William II. At the court in Palermo, from every country men of science and literature came toghether, politicians and artists, making it a splendid centre of international culture. In 1189 the Hohenstaufen replaced the Altavilla dynasty in 1189. After the brief and tragic reign of Henry VI it returned to the ancient splendour in 1208 with his son, the great Frederick I of Sicily, a great man of State and culture. The death of the latter, however, throws Sicily into a state of political confusion. The crown of Sicily passed therefore, by pontifical investiture, to Charles of Anjou, brother of the Kings of France. But that of the Angiò turned out to be a real military occupation of Sicily and it was followed by the revolt of Vespers on Easter Monday in 1282, which originated in Palermo and gave rise to the expulsion of angioini from all over the island.
By matrimonial right, the crown belonged to King Peter of Aragon who, in favour of the island’s nobility, was acclaimed King of Sicily in Palermo on September 4,1282. And so the Aragon dynasty of Sicily took over from the Anjou. This dynasty was not particularly authoritarian, influential, and precisely for this reason during the fourteenth century, it was the great aristocratic families who would take over the real political power in the island thanks to their economic and military power. The most important families including the Alagon, Peralta, Ventimiglia and Chiaramonte will literally divide the territory into four respective spheres of influence. It was the period of the Four Vicars. But in 1392 the Aragonese of Spain decided to face these dangerous autonomies and in 1415 Sicily was then associated with the Crown of Aragon and governed, therefore, by the Viceroy. In the fifteenth century King Alfonso “il Magnanimo” managed to unify Sicily and southern Italy by founding the Kingdom of the two Sicilies. France, however, secretly instigated riots throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. But it wasn’t until 1672 that Messina rose, declaredly backed by Louis XIV’s France during the war against Spain. But this revolt did not have the outcome hoped for when in 1678 the French abandoned Augusta and Messina and the latter was severely punished by the Crown, thus beginning its unstoppable decline. At the beginning of the eighteenth century Sicily was involved in the wars of Spanish and Polish succession (1700-1738). In the course of thirty years the island was forced to give up its crown first to the Savoy, then to the Austrian Emperor Charles VI and finally to Charles of the Bourbons of Spain, who founded the Bourbon dynasty of Naples and restored the autonomy to the Kingdom of Naples and Sicily. Due to the French invasion, King Ferdinand of Bourbon decided to move to Palermo where, driven by the insistent demands of the Sicilian autonomist aristocracy, he was forced to promulgate a Constitution (1812). However, the Constitution had a short life because in 1816 Ferdinand, strong of having regained full authority, suppressed and dissolved the Sicilian Parliament. It was in this way that in 1820-21 the first antiborbonic uprising took place and in 1848 the Revolution broke out, thanks to which the independentists established an independent Parliament from Naples and then proposed an independent federation of Sicily with the other Italian States. However, the Revolution of 1948 was repressed with weapons. Finally, the war of 1861 ended with the annexation of Sicily and southern Italy to the Savoy Kingdom of Italy. On 15th May 1946 the Sicilian Region with a special statute was established by a legislative decree. In April 1947 the Sicilian regional parliament was thus elected for the first time.
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