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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Discover Sicily

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Author: R. Ritchie

Sicily's prime geographic location in the centre of the Mediterranean Basin has meant that, over time, settlers and conquerors from the medieval Normans, Aragonese Spanish, Moorish North Africans, ancient Greeks, Phoenicians, and Romans have come and, except for the latter, mostly, gone. Today, Sicily's Roman ruins are rivaled only by those in Rome, and lovers of Roman archaeology will find a treasure trove of sites to explore.

To get an idea of the diversity of Sicily in ancient times and particularly the range of artifacts from the Greek and Roman colonizations of the island, visit the Museo Archeologico Regionale in Palermo. One of Italy’s greatest archaeological museums, it is filled with rare finds that put the multiple foreign occupations in perspective. As well, you’ll have a chance to compare priceless artifacts from the island’s different civilizations, including those from the Phoenician, Punic, Greek, Roman and Saracen periods. Listed here are some of the best Roman ruins in Sicily:

Cape Boéo & Marsala

Roman ruins here include a villa with baths and colourful mosaics, and the Church of San Giovanni, built over a cave converted into a home in Roman times. The Baglio Anselmi Archeological Museum on Lungomare Boéo exhibits ship from the Punic era.


Catania has two Roman amphitheatres, one reminiscent of Rome’s Colosseum. The smaller one, off Via Vittorio Emanuele, built upon an earlier Greek theatre, accommodated 6,000 spectators, while a larger amphitheatre, near the commercial centre in Piazza Stesicoro, is completely Roman and was built in the second century AD.

Solunto & Palermo

Seventeen kilometres east of Palermo, overlooking the coast, and on a site that was originally a Phoenician village that had been expanded by the Greeks in 396 BC, are the ruins of a town that was rebuilt by the conquering Romans 50 years later. The ruins mostly consist of floors, with some mosaics, the lower portions of walls, with some murals, and some columns. While there is a small archaeological museum here, most of the original artifacts are in the Palermo's Regional Archaeological Museum.


The Greek amphitheatre here, built in the third century BC, was expanded later by the Romans, who enlarged the stage. The view of Mount Etna and the sea beyond the theatre is spectacular. During summer, the theatre stages dramatic performances. A much smaller Roman theatre, the odium, is near Santa Caterina church.

Tyndaris – Capo Tindari

Tyndaris, founded by Dionysius the Elder in 396 BC, and later destroyed by pillaging conquerors, has been excavated to display the ruins of everything from a basilica to a Roman theatre. Overlooking the sea, the setting here is magnificent.

Villa Romana del Casale & Piazza Armerina

This Roman villa, a few kilometers outside town, and built between 330 and 360 AD, is one of the largest surviving classical-era Roman dwellings anywhere. The villa contains 40 rooms with western Europe’s most magnificent mosaics depicting scenes from daily life, such as hunting, and one mosaic of ten young women dressed in strapless two-piece swim suits that could be in fashion today.

No archaeology lover's trip to Sicily would be complete without visiting the Valley of the Temples, the largest and best collection of ancient Greek ruins in the world. You’ll also see necropoli, houses, streets and everything else you would expect to find in an ancient city. Be sure to check out the small amphitheatre, the several auditoria, and the first-rate archeological museum. You can’t miss the Concord Temple with its with 13 tall, wind-eroded columns. Set outside the city of Agrigento, on the southern coast of Sicily, the temples look dramatic at night when floodlights accentuate their shape and form.Article Source:
About the Author

Rod Ritchie writes for many publishers such as AA Publishing and Fodors. Cottages to Castles offer a range of high quality rental villas in Sicily and Sicily vacation rentals.
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