It’s hard to think of many destinations where the combination of festivals, food, wine, ancient history and culture can be found in such abundance, but in Sicily, from its cities right down to the smallest villages and the stunning countryside, you are spoilt for choice. Having recently added some very tempting luxury villas to rent to our Sicily portfolio, we have been enjoying finding a variety of authentic activities on the island, outside of high season. Whether you’re a fan of physical pursuits such as hiking, cycling and scuba diving, or take an interest in nature, annual local festivals and culinary delights, Sicily is wonderful island to visit.
Things to do in Sicily in February/MarchThe province of Agrigento in the south-west of the island is known for the ruins of the ancient city of Akragas in the Valley of the Temples, a vast archaeological site with well-preserved Greek architecture that will appeal to history fans. Alternatively, the Almond Blossom Festival (Sagra del Mandorlo) is held in Agrigento in early March, when the almond trees are in full bloom. The festival has a variety of events, including a prize for the most beautiful flowered balcony, and a parade of folk music groups from around the world.
Visit the Carnival of SciaccaSciacca, a seaside town in Agrigento, is known for its ceramics production, and its annual Carnival of Sciacca, taking place in 2022 from 24th February–1st March. The carnival involves music, dances and costumes, as well as a symbolic gesture where the keys to the town are handed to the king of the carnival, Peppe Nappa. This masked character pushes a wagon, distributing wine and sausages to onlookers throughout the carnival. On the evening of Shrove Thursday, at the carnival’s close, the Peppe Nappa cart is burned.
Things to do in Sicily in April If you’re spending Easter in Sicily be sure to visit Prizzi in the Palermo province between Sunday 10th April 2022 and Easter Sunday (17th April), when the Holy Week is celebrated with the Dance of the Devils, where devils and Death wander the streets. The Dance of the Devils is one of the most characteristic Easter events in Sicily, and has made Prizzi famous around the world. During this festival, Sicilians traditionally eat cannatedde, a typical treat made of short pastry and boiled egg.
Discover the Ricotta Festival in VizziniRicotta cheese is a traditional Sicilian speciality, with the best being produced in the city of Vizzini, in the province of Catania, where there is a three-day festival (23rd–25th April 2022) in its honour. As well as sampling the cheese, there are other local dishes available to try and plenty of cultural events and music to enjoy.Witness the Procession of the MysteriesOn Good Friday, the Procession of the Mysteries in Trapani on the north-west coast, is among the most traditional of Sicily’s Easter celebrations. The event is an all-day procession of thousands of people, marching bands and floats following 20 wooden ‘mysteries’ which are carried through the streets to represent the death of Christ.
Things to do in Sicily in MayIn Siracusa on the first and second Sundays in May, Santa Lucia is honoured for saving the city from famine in the mid-17th-century. Her silver statue is carried around the Piazza Duomo amid music and a festive atmosphere. Siracusa is also known for its Greek Theatre Festival (10 May–8 July). Sicily’s most important classical theatre event attracts worldwide crowds to its atmospheric ancient auditorium. Once in Siracusa, visitors will also want to explore the Greek, Byzantine and Norman architecture, as well as visit the beautiful Baroque towns of Noto, Modica and Ragusa located a short drive away.Infiorata (meaning ‘decorated with flowers’) is held during the third week of May in Noto. This stunning festival covers central street Via Nicolaci with flower petal designs to celebrate spring. Visitors can also enjoy parades, live music, exhibitions and food stalls.
Seek out some flower powerThe wildflowers in May also offer a good excuse for a Sicilian springtime break, as do the olive and almond groves and the orange tree blossoms. Spring flowers also cover the hillside slopes of the Madonie National Park in the province of Palermo, which extends over 35,000 hectares. This nature reserve includes fifteen towns and six impressive mountains which tower over 1,500 metres above sea level. It’s a wonderful place to walk and hike, and if you climb high enough you will be rewarded with some amazing views, including those of Mount Etna and the Aeolian islands.Let sparks fly in RagusaIn Ragusa on the last Saturday in May, the Festival of St George offers tasty food, a re-enactment of the saint’s martyrdom and one of the most magnificent annual fireworks displays in Sicily.
Things to do in Sicily in JuneFrom mid-June to September, the famous Greek amphitheatre in Taormina hosts plays, concerts, opera and ballet in one of the world’s most authentic and beautiful settings. Moreover, from 14th–21st June there is the Taormina Film Festival, with plenty of VIP glamour and a prestigious awards ceremony. The amphitheatre is worth a visit in itself, thanks to its incredible views which take in everything from the Mediterranean sea to Mount Etna.
5 picturesque villas to rent in SicilyVilla Letojanni (7 bedrooms; 14 guests). Just 10km from the beautiful hilltop town of Taormina, with its historic centre, weekly market and narrow winding streets lined with boutiques, cafés and restaurants, this luxury villa to rent sits in a stunning panoramic position. Offering breath-taking views of the sea and Letojanni beach from its spacious terraces, Villa Letojanni also has an inviting saltwater swimming pool that’s heated by solar panels.
Villa Cassibile (5 bedrooms; 8 guests). This beautiful villa is in a unique position on the Gelsomineto Reserve, with direct access to Il Gelsomineto Marchesa beach, one of most unspoilt beaches in south-eastern Sicily. Guests are also close to the Cassibile River and the Necropolis of Pantalica, which displays several thousand Neolithic tombs across its limestone cliffs. Both Siracusa and Noto are close by and there are also wonderful hiking opportunities in the Cavagrande di Cassibile.
Villa Montalbano (3 bedrooms; 6 guests).Situated near the south coast of Sicily, just 6km from the beach, this beautiful area is also the filming location for popular TV series Inspector Montalbano. In particular, the towns of Scicli, Ragusa and Modica, which were used as sets for the series, are within a 30-minute drive. From the terrace just outside the house, there are views across the unspoiled countryside right down to the sea. An authentic stone villa, it has been beautifully renovated to retain the original features while adding modern comforts.
Villa San Biagio (5 bedrooms; 10 guests).Situated 20km from the beautiful historic centre of Taormina and just 3km from the beaches of Fondachello and Giardini Naxos, Villa San Biagio boasts wonderful sea views. Take day trips to the Mount Etna National Park, the Alcantara gorges, or even the fishing villages on the Cyclops Riviera, Catania and Syracuse. In addition to a large garden and swimming pool, the villa has a sleek wellness area, complete with sauna and treadmill. The accommodation here is on two separate floors, so would suit two families staying together.
Vista Etna (4 bedrooms; 8 guests). Located in the little village of Viagrande on the slopes of Mount Etna, Vista Etna is situated in one of Sicily’s most prestigious wine-producing regions and benefits from gorgeous mountain views. For lovers of outdoor adventure sports, the area offers trekking, mountain-biking, potholing, river rafting and tubing, as well as snorkelling, kitesurfing and water-skiing. Vista Etna is in a great location for anyone who wants to explore the cultural highlights of south-east Sicily.