Sicily Island, Trinacria Mediterranean sea
Sicily Island at the center of the Mediterranean
Sicily Island is, by extension, the largest Italian region and the third by population. It is one of the two main islands of Italy, and the capital of the region, Palermo, with its 690 thousand inhabitants, is the fifth largest city after Rome, Milan, Naples, and Turin. The territory is predominantly hilly, while the flat areas are decidedly rare. The mountainous areas are characterized mainly by the presence of volcanoes, among which the Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe, stands out.
Sicily, the gateway to Europe
Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and it seems to be its center. Other smaller groups of islands such as the Aeolian, Ustica, the Aegadian, Pantelleria, and the Pelagie are also part of the region. Lampedusa, the largest of the Pelàgie islands, is, with Crete, the southernmost point of the entire European continent. And it is closer to the Tunisian coasts than to the Sicilian coasts, as well as Pantelleria which is only 70 km from Tunisia.
The ancient name of Sicily was Trinacria, the triangular island. Three sides bordered by three different seas where each zone maintains a particular character. A structure that has given life to a varied and complex region. Over its more than two thousand years of history, Sicily island has seen different rulers alternate themselves on its territory. From the Greeks to the Romans, from the Byzantines to the Arabs, from the Normans to the Spaniards: each of these peoples left to the island something of itself and has contributed to creating the peculiar character of the Sicilians.
An island shaped by its climate
In addition to its fascinating history, Sicily island has been shaped by its climate. In fact, with its strength, it has shaped this extraordinary landscape. The sea and the hills burned by the sun are the landscapes that characterize the territory. The presence of volcanoes, and in particular of the Etna (3323 m), make the Sicilian landscape unique in the Mediterranean context.
The architecture in Sicily
The major artistic periods in Sicily are basically three. The Greek period, during which the monumental architecture of the colonies (in particular temples and theaters) reaches a level equal, and in some cases even higher than that of the motherland. The medieval period, which sees the succession and integration of Byzantine, Arab and Norman elements. Finally, between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the island witnesses the great flowering of the baroque. The results of this style are so high and original that they give life to the Sicilian Baroque visible especially in the churches.
The great powers of the past
Sicily, for its position in the middle of the Mediterranean, has always been contended by the great powers that have succeeded each other in its long history. From the Phoenicians to the Carthaginians, Sicily knows the first moment of splendor with the domination of the Greeks ended in 212 BC. Since then, for over six centuries, the island becomes the inexhaustible granary of the Roman Empire.
The Arabs and the Normans
After the fall of the empire and the barbarian invasions, Sicily knew the Byzantine domination followed by the Arab one in 827. The Arab domination coincides with the rebirth of the island becoming one of the richest and most tolerant lands in the Mediterranean basin. In 1091 the Normans conquered the island and laid the foundations for the splendid court of Frederick II in Palermo.
From Spain to the Kingdom of Italy
From 1266 the Angevin domination began, followed by the crown of Aragon that was present also in Sardinia island. These are seasons of decadence during which the great feudal lords become the owners of the island. In 1860, Garibaldi’s expedition paved the way for the annexation of Sicily to the Kingdom of Italy.