Fun facts about Sicily for kids and curious adults. Did you know that Sicily is the biggest island in the Mediterranean? And that the symbol of Sicily is a head with 3 legs? In this article, we share these and many more facts about Sicily with tops tips on where to learn about them on the ground!
Our last trip to Sicily offered us incredible opportunities for teaching our kids (and learn ourselves!) about this stunning island.
Located in strategic position at the heart of the Mediterranean, over the course of the centuries Sicily has been a true crossroads of trades and cultures, which left traces in architecture, food and language that are peculiar to this island.
In this post, we share some facts about Sicily that will help you and your kids to understand even more about this beautiful corner of Italy.
What is Sicily famous for?
Sicily is famous for many things.
It is known for treasures in the field or archaeology, architecture, food and natural world.
Among Sicily’s most famous attractions there are the Greek temples of the Valley of temples in Agrigento, Palermo’s famous opera house, the incredible Baroque churches in Noto and Modica and the island’s mouth watering food, some of which has worldwide fame (cannoli, just to name one).
The island is also famous for a stunningly beautiful coastline and sandy beaches such as those in the Zingaro Reserve, near Scopello
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Facts about Sicily: Geography, Capital, Population, Borders etc
Sicily is the largest and most populated island of the Mediterranean.
It stretches over almost 10,000 Sq metres and is followed, in terms of size, by Sardinia and the much smaller Cyprus.
Sicily is located in the South of Italy, close to the Italian region of Calabria. It is to the North of Malta and the North East of Tunisia.
The stretch of sea between Sicily and Calabria is called ‘Stretto di Messina’. Messina’s stait.
Messina’s strait is 3.15 KM wide at its narrowest point
Sicily is part of Italy and one of its 20 regions.
Sicily is surrounded by many (stunning) smaller islands that make up ‘Regione Siciliana’ (the administrative region of Sicily).
The most famous among the smaller islands are Egadi, Eolie,Pelagie, Ustica and Pantelleria.
The capital of Sicily is Palermo, regional capital and Sicily’s biggest city.
Sicily population counts 5.5 Million people according to 2020 data.
Sicily has several volcanoes. Etna, in the Eastern part of Sicily, Stromboli and Vulcano are among the most famous.
Etna is the tallest active volcano in Europe and it is still active: spectacular eruptions are often visible from many miles away.
Despite being active, Etna is home to many people living on its slopes and can be visited easily with guided tours.
Sicily is only 1.5 miles away from Italy’s mainland.
The stretch of land between Sicily and Calabria is called ‘Stretto di Messina’.
The monsters Scylla and Charybdis (Scilla and Cariddi, in Italian), appearing in the Odyssey, are said to be the two sides of the channel: the town of Scilla, in Calabria, bears witness to this legend!
Sicily has a triangular shape and the three angles are the three capes Pachino, Peloro and Lilibeo
Fun facts about Sicily history and cultural: historical facts about Sicily
Sicily has been home to many civilizations including the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs and the Normans.
The Greek called Sicily Trinacria (three promontories): Trinacria can still be used as nickname for Sicily or more erudite way to refer to it.
Arab-Norman ones are in Monreale
Noto and its Valley are famous for Baroque architecture
Ancient ruins are a lot more than just sightseeing opportunities.
The Greek theatre of Syracuse still nowadays hosts shows, regularly attended by school groups and the general public.
Sicily was the birthplace of mathematician Archimedes, famous among other things for the Archimedes’ principles and many mathematical principles still learnt in schools.
The symbol of Sicily is called Triscele and comprises of a face with three legs.
The face is said to represent a gorgon, a mythological monster evoking the Greek presence on the island, and the three legs presents the three geographical corners of Sicily.
Other symbols of Sicily are: the Sicilian cart (carretto siciliano), a Moors’ head, Sicilian cassata (Sicilian sweet), Sicilian cannolo and the coppola, Sicily’s traditional men’s hat.
In Sicily people speak both Italian and Sicilian.
Sicilian has been recognised by UNESCO as an endangered language and it is so different from Italian that Italians do not understand it.
Sicily has an important role in the history of the Italian state.
In 1860 patriot Garibaldi disembarked in Marsala with a group of 1000 volunteers and battled his way across Sicily and southern Italy to unify the whole peninsula and islands under one state.
He succeed and handed over its conquest to the first King of Italy Vittorio Emanuele II.
Interesting facts about Sicily food
Sicily is famous, among other things, for its food and Palermo, its biggest city, regularly features as one of the street food capitals of the world.
Sicilian food has been influenced by the many civilizations that lived on the island. Grain was Sicily’s main crop since Roman times while sugar, rice and citrus fruits for instance were brought to the island by the Arabs.
Among the most famous foods of Sicily there are:
Savoury: arancini (fried rice balls), Trapanese pesto (pasta sauce), caponata (aubergine based), pasta alla Norma (aubergine and cottage cheese sauce), pane cunzato (bread) just to name a few.
Sweet: cannoli (cottage cheese pastry), cassata (with marzipan), chocolate, almond bisquits
Sicily is famous for its special chocolate which is made in Modica, in the South Eastern corner of the island.
You can find these and more foods you should try on your next trip to Sicily here
Sicily is a wonderful tourism destination for local and international visitors.
The most popular places in Sicily are:
- Catania and Mount Etna
- Val di Noto, Modica, Ragusa Ibla
- Velley of the Temples Agrigento
- Scala de’ Turchi
- Riserva dello Zingaro (Scopello, Castellammare del golfo area)
- Selinunte and Segesta
- Outer islands
Loved these cool facts about Sicily? We have more fun facts here!
Insipred to learn even more Sicily and Italy? Don’t forget to also check out our:
I hope you enjoyed this quick overview with facts about Sicily. Safe travels! Article updated in September 2020.