Published on 31 march 2010 at 0h00
The biggest island in the Mediterranean is a real gem, ready to offer those who venture there the most wonderful cruising... Sicily is a land of mysteries, but also and above all, of beauty. To be discovered urgently!
You can't understand Sicily without being familiar with the history of the Mediterranean. At the crossroads of routes between Greece, Italy and Africa, the Mediterranean's biggest island has often stirred up envy.
Throughout the centuries, this land has thus been dominated by no less than fourteen different peoples, from the Carthaginians to the Bourbons, the Arabs to the Romans, via the Phoenicians, Aragons, Normans, Greeks, Moors and many, many others...
These invasions have given this island something unique, and the Sicilian population is a very diverse melting pot where you will find inhabitants with a matt complexion and Nordic blue eyes. This rich island has more than 1,000 kilometres of coastline, with beaches of white sand (on the south coast between Syracuse and Ragusa), black sand (on Vulcano Island), black rocks (on Lipari Island) and black volcanic cliffs (at Catane).
Sicily offers everything a cruising sailor could ask for: fascinating scenery and anchorages, moderate breezes all the year round, 250 days of constant sunshine (from April to November), architectural and historic sites (from the Piazza Armerina mosaics to the Greek theatre at Taormine), incredibly tasty food...
As the charter company, Moorings, points out: "the waters around Sicily are scattered with small islands, in groups or isolated: to the north, opposite the Straits of Messina there are the Aeolians or Lipari (Stromboli, Panaréa, Salina, Lipari, Vulcano, Filicudi and Alicudi) and the island of Ustica. To the west, the Egades archipelago faces the port of Trapani on the west coast of Sicily. A maritime nature park, since 1992, it is made up of three islands with dissimilar charms: Favignana, Marettimo and Levanzo..." In short, Sicily is a little paradise for cruising, especially in a multihull. Discovering the volcanoes, the black sand beaches and the ‘dolce vita' atmosphere will be really amazing for those who dare to take the step...
The Aeolian Islands:
7 islands in 7 days (with 3 hours sailing per day). These seven volcanic islands take their name from the god of the winds in ancient times: Aeole...
Day 1: Alicudi, the smallest of them all; about twenty or so inhabitants live on this wild and peaceful island, where you can find peace and admire the amazing sunsets.
Day 2: Filicudi, the island with the most fish; where you can taste fresh oysters and succulent crabs.
Day 3:: Salina, the most fascinating, which offers a variety of liqueur wines called Malvasia, and the best fruit granita in the whole of Sicily, freshly prepared each morning by the old barman, Alfredo...
Day 4: Panarea, the glamorous island, where all the jet set from the cinema, fashion and television meet up.
Day 5: Stromboli, , spectacular and formidable, for those looking for nature and thrills.
Day 6: Lipari, the biggest island, perfect for buying souvenirs, and Vulcano, for those looking for well-being and who like spending hours in natural springs of hot, invigorating mud.
Day 7: Tindari, a long tongue of sand, with its natural harbour which borders two pretty little salt lakes, on the banks of which you can have a fabulous horse ride before your last night in Sicily.
The Pelagian Islands (opposite Tunisia)
Lampedusa, Pantelleria and Linosa. These three very different islands offer a week's exceptional cruising, ideal for visiting the wonderful white sand beaches (Rabbit Island, Lampedusa), swimming in a salt lake (Vénus, Pantelleria), tasting the famous sal capperi and the award-winning Passito meditation wine, or admiring the luxurious Armani villa nearby.
The Egades (Favignana, Marettimo, Levanzo) and Ustica
These four islands shelter the most wonderful underwater scenery. They are part of strictly controlled marine nature reserves. On Ustica, you will find the only place
in the Mediterranean where coral still grows. On Favignana, you can take part in the ‘mattanza', the famous ritual fishing for giant red tuna (whilst there are still some left...). A paradise for diving and underwater photography.
From Syracuse to Agrigento:
the South Coast
This part of Sicily offers exceptional scenery (the fascinating little island of Streams, where the Ionian Sea meets the Straits of Medina, and you can contemplate an amazing sunset, and the white cliffs of Eraclea Minoa...), white sand beaches (Fontanebianche), historic sites (including the small town of Ortigia, which has recently been named a world heritage site by UNESCO); Noto, the European capital of the baroque; Agrigento: the Greek Temple valley, gastronomic specialities (the ‘bottarga' - salted tuna eggs dried in the sunshine of Marzamemi, a pretty and welcoming fishing village).
Numerous charter flights or regular airlines allow you to arrive directly in Sicily, at Palermo, whose airport is about 25km from the marina where the charter companies can be found.
Spring, summer or autumn: each season has its enthusiasts. The weather is very good in Sicily, and the temperature fluctuates from a minimum of 11°C in winter to more than 25°C in the sunny season. The summer can be very hot, or even stifling, so it is an advantage to be on a boat....
This is a really big island, conditions are therefore varied, depending on where you are sailing. Throughout the season, on the north and north-west coasts, the north-westerly or westerly breeze generally blows at between 10 and 20 knots. On the east coast, a sea breeze from the south (which can become quite strong) will blow during the day.
Sicily is Italian; the official currency is therefore the euro. Credit cards accepted everywhere. Although the coasts are sumptuous, don't leave without good travel guides, so you can enjoy the interior of the islands...
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