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5 Sites History Buffs Must See in Sicily

18 June 2024
by Melissa Puppo
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These archeological wonders let you experience the island’s long and fascinating history for yourself. 

Sicily has been one of the Mediterranean’s most coveted treasures for nearly 3,000 years. Its strategic location off the toe of Italy’s boot, fertile volcanic soil enriched by Mount Etna—Europe's most active volcano—and abundant natural resources have attracted many civilizations over the centuries, making it a hot commodity in the ancient world. From the Ancient Greeks and Romans to the Normans and Arabs, dozens of rulers have cherished and fought for Sicily’s land, each leaving their own distinct stamp on the island. Today, the remains of these cultures can be seen in a wealth of well-preserved ancient sites you wouldn’t believe all exist in one place.  

Here, we uncover the top five places to visit in Sicily to get a deeper understanding of this beautiful island’s rich history. 


1. The Valley of the Temples

The Valley of the Temples sits along the southwest coast of Sicily, in Agrigento, and features seven impressive Ancient Greek temples that rival any found in Greece itself. Each structure pays homage to a different deity or character from Greek mythology, including Heracles and Zeus. As you stroll among the massive Doric columns of the Temple of Concordia or look up at the remains of the Temple of Juno, you’ll be blown away by their sheer grandeur. We recommend visiting at sunset, when the golden light casts a warm glow over the ancient ruins. 


Greek Theater of Taormina

2. Greek Theater of Taormina 

This ancient theater in the eastern city of Taormina offers a fascinating glimpse into Greek and Roman history, plus breathtaking views of the Ionian Sea and Mount Etna. Built in the 3rd century BCE and later expanded by the Romans, it hosted dramatic performances and gladiator battles for as many as 10,000 spectators. The site was carved out of the side of Mount Taurus, creating incredible natural acoustics. Today, the theater hosts concerts and events, seamlessly blending ancient history with modern culture.  


Villa Romana del Casale

3. Villa Romana del Casale

Prepare to be wowed while touring this ancient Roman villa outside the town of Piazza Armerina in the center of the island. It’s renowned for its well-preserved, detailed mosaics that vividly depict scenes of daily Roman life, mythology, and nature—they’re said to be the finest in the world. Built in the 4th century CE, this villa likely served as a lavish retreat for Roman nobility.  



4. Archeological Park of Segesta

Segesta was a major city for the Elymians, an indigenous Sicilian culture, and later modified by the Greeks. Today, what remains of both civilizations can be found scattered among this gorgeous park located between Palermo and Marsala. Here you’ll find a stunningly preserved Greek temple and theater dating from the middle of the second century BCE set against a backdrop of rolling hills and olive groves. You can explore the remnants of the city’s walls and gates or walk along one of several hiking trails within the park. Unlike some of Sicily's more popular destinations, Segesta is relatively off the beaten path, making it a quiet, peaceful place to visit. 



5. Mozia 

The Phoenicians, an ancient civilization from what is now Lebanon, used this small island (now called San Pantaleo) near Trapani and Marsala as a strategic port for their Mediterranean trade. Take a short boat ride across a lagoon to get here, then walk around the small island to see the remains of a religious sanctuary called Cappiddazzu, military gates, necropolis, and a serene man-made pool that aligns perfectly with the stars above and was used as a place of worship. Spend an afternoon here walking the quiet grounds and imagine life as it might have been some 2,500 years ago. 


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