The largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily lives even larger. Its location off the toe of Italy’s “boot” made it the ideal crossroads along the major trade routes for the Greek, Roman, and Byzantine empires. Ruins, cuisine, and art from eastern and western powers are all present in Sicily.

In Agrigento, the Valley of Temples, is a well-preserved testament to the presence of the Greeks in Sicily, with 1,300 hectares of temples and other structures connected by meandering pathways and interpretive material. Just outside of Agrigento, the bleached white cliffs of Scala dei Turchi prove that nature refuses to be outshone. The marl formations appear to be covered in a buttery frosting, which dazzle set against the blue-green sea and reflect the vibrant colors of the setting sun in the evening. Both the Valley of Temples and Scala dei Turchi are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The Greek influence is also prominent in Syracuse, one of Sicily’s major cities. The birthplace of Archimedes, the city has long been an important player in military history, from ancient Greece to World War II. Today the city is primarily known for its preservation and restoration efforts, as an example of the living history of Italy’s major cities.

Taormina’s charming cobblestone streets and terraces have been attracting artists throughout the modern era. One look out toward the Mediterranean to the east, and it’s easy to see why. Every view, every vignette in Taormina is inspirational. Shop among the boutiques lining the main thoroughfare, snacking on arancina, the classic Italian street food, or stop for a granita, the semi-frozen Sicilian desert that makes a refreshing alternative to the heavy creams and pastries.

More recently, the epic trilogy The Godfather forever implanted Sicily into the modern canon. Scenes from the film were shot in Sicily, the homeland of the fictional Corleone family. Cinema lovers flock to the tiny towns outside Taormina to hunt down filming locations, and get a taste for the culture that informed Mario Puzo’s novels.

Whether you want to eat seaside picnics, walk among ruins, or hunt for cinema trivia, Ker & Downey can tailor your Sicilian experience into an adventure you’ll never forget.

See more in our Journey to Sicily