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Information on Sicily


4.961.383 abitanti




In the north with the Tyrrhenian Sea, in the east with the Ionian Sea, in the south and west with the Mediterranean Sea.


Sicilian agriculture has always been one of the most flourishing in the whole State of Italy; this is due to the favourable climatic condition and the very fertile soil. The principal produce is wheat, artichokes, beans, especially olives, mandarins, oranges, lemons, almonds, grapes. watermelon and figs. Olives and grapes give the very best and famous oil and wine which are then exported all over Europe. However, it must be pointed out that in recent years all these crops have suffered some damage because of the continued decrease in rainfall. Sheep and goat breeding is quite good but cattle breeding and rearing is slow to increase its level of production. Fishing is very good and well established in the Sicilian canal.


As can be seen from the map, Sicily is a wonderful island. Only one mountainous tract can be called a "chain" and this is the area which begins near Messina and stretches for 190 kms. as far as Termini Imerese. These mountains divide into three huge blocks called the Peloritani, the Nebrodi and the Madonie and they rise to the respective maximum heights of "Montagna Grande" at 1.374 m. " Monte Soro" at 1.847 m. and "Pizzo Carbonara" at 1.979 m. The highest peak in the western mountains in only 1.613 m. and is called "Rocca Busambra". The region has only one large plain and that is the Plain of Catania which is between Etna and the Syracuse mountains. It has an area of 430 sq.kms. which is alluvional and very fertile. The region's principal rivers are the Salso, 144 kms long. the Simeto 130 kms and the Platani 110 kms. Sicily is a region which has the greatest number of islands and the main ones are the Eolian Isles, (the largest of which is Lipari) Vulvano, Stromboli, Ustica, the Egadi, (the most important of these being Favignana) Pantelleria and the Pelagie, where the main island is Lampedusa. Etna certainly merits a mention. It is the largest active Vulcan in the whole of Italy and appears as an enormous mountain standing 3.340 m high. The climate is mild in winter and very hot in summer especially in the inland areas. Topography: Mountain 13.6% Hill 67.9% Plain 18.5%


During the last ten years Sicily's industrial activity has assumed quite an important role in the region's economy, but still shows some signs of backwardness. Although the central eastern part of the island's industrial sectors are becoming more and more modernized, the western part continues to use traditional methods and implements. The principal industrial complex is petrolchemicals and the other important factories are mechanics, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and food products. (wine and oil). Fishing too is quite important. Commerce and especially tourism , allow reasonable development in the services sector even though they are not greatly helped by inadequate road and rail services.


The capital city of this region is Palermo. It is situated in a large bay on the north west coast of the island near the mouth of the River Oreto. The economy of the city is based mainly on commerce and handicrafts, but agriculture (citrus fruit and olives) and industry (metallurgy and mechanics) are also quite important. Tourism is increasing with all the business connected with it and fishing is well established. The city has a good number of artistic works to offer such as the Churches of San Giovanni dei Lebbrosi, (St.John of the Lepers) San Giovanni degli Eremiti (ST. John of the Hermits) and Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio (detta Martorana) (St. Mary of the Admiralty called Martorana), the Norman Palace, the Palatine Chapel . the Cathedral. the Churches of the Santissima Trinita', (the Holy Trinity) and Santa Maria in Catena, (St. Mary in chains) the Teatro Massimo, (theatre) the Diocesan Museum and the Churches of San Giuseppe dei Teatini (St. Joseph) and San Domenico (St. Dominic). Another important Sicilian city is Messina . It lies on the west coast on the straits of the same name, a little south of Cape Peloro. The city's main economic resources are agiculture, (citrus fruit, olives, cerals. and walnuts), fishing, industri (food products, chemicals and buildin materials) and of course tourism . Interesting builidings to see are the Duomo, the Churches of San Francesco D'Assisi (St. Francis of Assisi) Sant'Annunziata dei Cataliani (St. Annunziata of the Catalan) and Santa maria della Valle, (St. Mary in the Valley) situated near the ciy, the Fort of San Salvador and the fountains of Orion and Neptune. Ragusa stand on the southern slope of the Iblei mountains between the Rivers Ippari and Irminio. The city has a well developed petrol chemical industry, but agriculture is also quite important, (citrus fruit, orchards and vinyards) as are the specialist food product factories, textiles and brick works The only buildings of interest are the Cathedral and the Church of San Giorgio (St. George) Agrigento looks towards the south. It lies 3 Kms from the Mediterranean coast and is famous for the "Valley of the Temples" one can visit the ruins of the wonderful Doric temples like those of "Hercules" "Efestis" of "Concorde" and the "Dioscuri". This is a popular ground for tourists. The cultivation of citrus fruit, olives, cereal and especially almonds is doing very well while the cotton industry and extracting minerals are still growing. Catania, which is situated on the southern skirts of Mount Etna on the coast of the Gulf of Etna , is a very important industrial city which has factories for food products, chemico-pharmaceuticals, and building materials; the fishing industry is more important than agriculture. The most interesting buildings artistically are the Churches of San Giuliano, (St. Julian) Santa Chiara (St. Clare) and Sant'Agata, (St. Agatha) the Palace of Saint Julian and the Duomo. It must be emphasized tha the city Syracuse has the most wonderful architectural masterpiecies; one can visit the Temples of Apollo and Zeus, The Duomo, the Churches of Santa Lucia and Santa Maria dei Miracoli, the Maniace Castle and the Bellome Palace. Syracuse is a flourishing tourist centre, but it also has a sound economy based on tuna fishing, a big petrolchemical plant and the cultivation of citrus fruit, cereal and vegetables. Trapani stands on a promontory enclosing a natural harbour in the extreme north west of the island; its main economical resources are fishing, various agricultural produce and small industries. Interesting buildings to visit are the Sanctuary of the Annunciata built in the Gothic Style, and the Church of Santa Maria del Gesu' of the 15th century. Trapani is also well known for the salt desposits in the area . Enna, which lies in the central region of the Erei Mountains is a busy commercial and industrial centre, whereas it receives little income from agriculture. The city's most important buildings are the Duomo, the Castle, Federico II's century (Frederick II) Tower, the Churches of San Benedetto and Santa Chiara and the Pollicarini Palace. Finally, Caltanisetta, a city standing on a plateau on the south ern slopes of Mount San Giuliano is quite famous for the cultivation of almonds and barley. The industries of the area are the extraction of minerals, mining, and alimentary products; there is little tourist activity , perhaps because there is nothing particularly interesting to see here. Tourist resorts: Taormina, Cefalu', Gela, Castellmare del Golfo and the Eolian Islands are very famous seaside resorts, Sciacca is well known for its spa, and the cities of Agrigento, Palermo, Catania and Syracuse are tourist attractions for their architecture and Greek temple remains.


Luigi Pirandello (1867 1936) a very famous Sicilian author and playright gained his degree in Romantic Philology at Bonn university in Germany, and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in.1934. His most well known comedies and essays are: "Il fu Mattia Pascal" The defunct late Mathew Pascal, "Cosi' e' o se vi pare" As you like it, "La patente" The licence, "Questa sera si recita un soggetto", We are acting a theme this evening, "Teatro vecchio teatro nuovo" Old and new theatre, "Saggi" Essays, "La vita nuda", A nude life "Le due maschere" Two masks, "Bianche e nere" Black and white, "Uno nessuno centomila", "La giara" The vase, "Il gioco delle parti", "Ciascuno a suo modo" To each his own, "Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore" Six characters in search of an author, "come tu mi vuoi" As you want me to be. Another famous writer of Sicilian origin is Giovanni Verga, 1840-1922 the author of wonderful work such as "I Malavogia" The unwilling, "Vita nei campi" Life in the fields, "Novelle rusticane" ountry novels, "I vinti" The defeated, "Mastro Don Gesualdo". Verga, the realist, wishes to demonstrate that the ethically negative conseguences resulting from the economical progress as practised by the middleclass, causes the destruction of peasant sincerity. The author had a pessimistic nature and always felt discouraged because he could see no way out of it. He became a senator in the Italian Parliament in 1920 . Luigi Capuana 1839 1915 was a noted narrator and critic in the latter part of the 19th century; after a couple of years of apprenticeship in journalism he was called to Milan to work for the prestigious "Corriere della Sera" newspaper and soon after began to publish his first novels. After moving from Milan to Rome, Capuana spent the rest of his life between the Capital and his beloved Sicily. His principal literary works are: "Profumo" Perfume, "Profili di donne" Profiles of women, "Gli ismi contemporanei" Contemporary isms, "Le paesane" The villagers, "La sfinge" The sphinx, A very well known Sicilian composer who wrote: "Norma", "La pirata" The pirate, "Somnambula" The sleepwalker, "I puritani" The Puritans, "I Capuleti ed i Montecchi" Capulet and Mountegue is Vicenzo Bellini 1801 1835. Bellini's compositions feature passages of pure contemplative ecstasy or of elegaic melancholy; and from the most complex and changing dramatic atmosphere capture, in the most extra ordinary way, operatic characters using new and clearly romantic expressions. The famous author of the literary masterpiece "Il gattopardo" is Giuseppe Tomasi of Lampedusa, also wrote essays and stories which were never published. Another famous man of the 20 th century is the poet Salvatore Quasimodo 1908, translated among other works, those of the Greek and Latin poets and of Shakespeare. His most important writings are: "Ed e' subito sera" Evening comes quickly, "La vita non e' un sogno" Life is not a dream, while his principal translations are: "Il fiore delle Georgiche" The flower of the Georgies, "Romeo e Giulietta" Romeo and Juliet, "La tempesta" The tempest, "Antonio e Cleopatra" Antony and Cleopatra.


The first known inhabitants of the Island of Sisily were the Greeks, who after expelling the indigenous peoples, settled in the region at the beginning of the 7th century B.C. and quickly founded numerous colonies along the coasts. While governed by Gelone and Gerone "Greek" Sicily enjoyed a period of absolute prosperity, both from an economic point of view as well as that political and civil. After suffering years of war between the Greeks and the Carthaginians and a brief period of anarchy, Sicily came under Roman rule, when Caesar gave its people Roman citizenship. During this Roman government the island benefitted greatly, but these came to an abruptend with the arrival of first the Vandals and Goths and then the Byzantines. The later ruled Sicily for about 400 years during which period there were many people's revolts. Then followed the advent of the Arabs who conquered all the western part of the island while the eastern side remained under the control of the Byzantine Empire. Towards the middle of the 11th century the Normans took possession of the whole island and their "Commander" called himself king of Sicily and Puglia. Under Svevian rule at the beginning of the 13th century, Sicily reached the height of its power becoming a Model of State for the whole peninsula. When the Angevin replaced the Svevi they were very quickly defeated by the Aragonesi who took the island during the War of the Vespri in 1282. In the year 1442 Alfonso d'Aragon assumed the title of king of the two Sicilies and while under his control the island ha a bried period of prosperity; this ended when Sicily passed to the Spaniards and this lasted for about two centuries. Then the island came under the rule of, first, the House of Savoy and then the Hapsburgs. From 1759 to 1860, the year when Sicily became part of the Kingdom of Italy the region was subject to the Kingdom of Naples under the Bourbons. During this period there were three big insurrections in 1820, 1831 and 1848 and these served to open the way to revolutionary cycle which inflamed all Europe. Sicily has been an autonomous region since 1948 by Special Statute.

Agrigento | Alessandria | Ancona | Aosta | Arezzo | Ascoli Piceno | Asti | Avellino | Bari | Belluno | Benevento | Bergamo | Biella | Bologna | Bolzano | Brescia | Brindisi | Cagliari | Caltanissetta | Campobasso | Carbonia - Iglesias | Caserta | Catania | Catanzaro | Chieti | Como | Cosenza | Cremona | Crotone | Cuneo | Enna | Ferrara | Florence | Foggia | Forlì - Cesena | Frosinone | Genoa | Grosseto | Imperia | Isernia | La Spezia | L'Aquila | Latina | Lecce | Lecco | Livorno | Lodi | Lucca | Macerata | Mantova | Massa - Carrara | Matera | Medio - Campidano | Messina | Milan | Modena | Naples | Novara | Nuoro | Ogliastra | Olbia - Tempio | Oristano | Padua | Palermo | Parma | Pavia | Perugia | Pesaro and Urbino | Pescara | Piacenza | Pisa | Pistoia | Pordenone | Potenza | Prato | Ragusa | Ravenna | Reggio Calabria | Reggio Emilia | Rieti | Rimini | Rome | Rovigo | Salerno | Sassari | Savona | Siena | Sondrio | Syracuse | Taranto | Teramo | Terni | Trapani | Trento | Treviso | Trieste | Turin | Udine | Varese | Venice | Verbano-Cusio-Ossola | Vercelli | Verona | Vibo Valentia | Vicenza | Viterbo |