Sicily is Italy's largest island with a land area of 25,706 sq km (9,925 sq miles), as well as being also the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.
Because of its strategic location (latitude 38° north), Sicily has been invaded countless times over the centuries, by the Greeks, Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Normans and Spaniards. Each occupier left behind their cultural influences that have blended to give Sicily its own distinctive personality, in its architecture, cuisine and customs. A visit to Sicily is certainly an experience to treasure, and that's without taking account of all the great sailing to be had.
There are bays and ports well worth stopping into all around the island of Sicily. Many charterers do however restrict their Sicilian sailing holiday to the northern coast, visiting the city of Palermo, historical Cefalù and delightful Portarosa. It's just a short sail from here to the Aeolian Islands and a quite differnt world.
If venturing southward, consider Syracuse with its huge slice of ancient history including the famous Greek ruins. You may even get a chance to attend a performance at the Greek Amphitheatre (in season, late spring/early summer). Nearby the resort town of Taormina is brooding Mt Etna, accessed through the culturally-rich rural hinterland that surrounds it. At the other (western) end of Sicily is Marsala, wine country.
The Aeolian Islands
Rising out of the Tyrrhenian Sea some fifteen miles off the Sicilian coast, the Aeolian Islands - Lipari, Salina, Stromboli, Vulcano, Panarea, Filicudi and Alicudi — with their black beaches of volcanic soil, and dazzling clear light, have everything to make your yacht charter an unforgettable experience.
The history of this UNESCO World Heritage Site is recorded back at least 5,000 years, and traces of human presence can be found in the form of prehistoric villages, ruins, excavations, pottery and tools. The setting is a volcanic one, “Fire above and below” is how one writer describes the ambience, "baking under the constant glare of a Sicilian sun."
Colourful fishing boats line lively ports, filled with charming cafes, bars and restaurants. While the islands’ interiors offer the most varied and contrasting landscapes and scenery, the crystal clear water in sheltered bays and coves, volcanic activity, isolated reefs, starkly-painted houses and archaeological sites are unmatched for beauty and drama. The food and wine are simply extraordinary, and some of the islands offer the rare experience of an almost vehicle-free environment.
Sailing here is away from it all, detached from the highly-populated tourist tracks. Although Italians have been holidaying in the Aeolian islands for centuries, the rest of the world is only just now awaking to their charms.
Combine your trip to the Aeolian Islands with a tour of Sicily, or travel to the 16th Century Calabrian town of Tropea, and use that as your base for this great Mediterranean charter holiday option.