Sicily: Zingaro Nature Reserve

Sicily is the biggest island in the Mediterranean sea as well as being the largest region in Italy. An unforgettable combination of colours, aromas, flavours, beauty, traditions and folklore that all come together in amazing harmony and charm.

Sicily is also a treasure chest of important historical events: the era of Sicanians, Phoenicians and Sicels people; the Greek domination which has left many extraordinarily monuments, sculptures and ceramics in this magical land such as Selinunte, Agrigento and Tindari; the Punic Wars and the Roman Age with its villas such as the renown Roman Villa of Casale at Piazza Armerina – UNESCO world heritage site – which is famous for its amazing mosaics; The Byzantium conquest and the Arab Era that brought a lot of trade an commerce in the region and made the its capital, Palermo, into a cosmopolitan city full of orchards and gardens; the arrival of the Normans and the Swabia tribes, as well as the Spanish domination, the kingdom of the Two Sicilies until it finally joined Italy. The blend of these many cultures during history can even be felt to this day.

Every day in Sicily will be spent in a different one of it many cities of locations such as Cefalù a fishing village, closed in by the sea and a rock headland of limestone on which sits the imposing Romanesque Cathedral build by the Normans; Noto, a small town famous for its Baroque influence, is an architectural pearl situated on a rocky highland over the valley of Asinaro; Montreale is a town renowned worldwide for its Cathedral which is the most significant piece of architecture build by the Normans in Sicily. Taormina town is a continuous alternation of splendid architecture, urban planning, sceneries and of wonderful lush gardens, a town made even more beautiful by the view of Mount Etna in the background, the Capo Taormina coast and Bella island; Erice is a town which holds incredible summary of art, history and amazing landscapes, not to mention its medieval historical centre still in perfect condition and the shape of the mountain  and adjoining natural environments; Caltagirone is a small town situated higher up than the rest from where you can see the flat lands of Catania and Gela, also know for the famous handmade ceramics produced here.

Along with the manmade wonders of this region there is also an equivalent of natural wonders like the 1500 km of coat line – including the smaller islands of Egadi, Eolie, Pelagie, Pantelleria and Ustica – which offer endless options for a holiday at the sea. Its beaches vary from ones of fine sand or small stones of many colours, white cliffs, bays and inlets. The Mondello beach of Palermo, the coasts along the towns of San Leone, Agrigento or Fontane Bianche at Siracusa, the beaches of Mar Tirreno between Capo d'Orlando and Patti (Messina), the Caribbean-like beach of San Vito Lo Capo (Trapani), the small inlets of Castelluzzo and the Zingaro Nature Reserve and the long beaches of Letojanni and Fiumefreddo.

The natural environment of Sicily is made up of a variety of delicate ecosystems that are preserved by the regional parks, reserves and sanctuaries. The Etna Park (Catania) shaped by various eruptions; the Madonie Park (Palermo) with its medieval settlements and holding over 90 species of butterfly and containing every species of plant life found throughout the Mediterranean basin. The Nebrodi Park which is adjacent to the province of Catania, Enna and Messina, the Nebrodi mountains have formed a truly rocky backbone along the Tyrrhenian coastline of the island;  the fluvial Park of Alcantara (Messina and Catania) where the territory is shaped by the clash of molten lava with water that formed gorges, ravines of high black wall of solidified lava. In all there are 77 natural pearls to be see in Sicily to name just a few: the Nature Reserve of Vendicari – a narrow stretch of land long the coast from Noto to Pachino – an oasis of tranquillity for many species of bird; Nature Reserve of Zingaro which is an untouched part of the coast famous for its crystal-clear waters and its charming isolated bays of white sand that run into the intense blue of the sea.

Then we have the local cuisine, or better still the “art of cooking” because just hearing the names of some of the local dishes is enough to get your mouth watering. The cardoons and artichokes dipped in batter and then fried, the sausages, the olives "acciurate”, panelle – cutlets in chickpea flour, local baked pasta, the pasta with fresh anchovies, with courgette sprouts or with fried aubergine sauce. The cooked or grilled fish such as swordfish, tuna fish, fresh anchovies with oregano and bread. The tasty meats either fried of grilled and then all the vegetables you can think of cooked, raw, grilled or steamed. Along with the sweet smelling fruit and desserts like  the “cassata” a kind of Sicilian ice-cream with candied fruit, buccellati cakes with fig jam, Martorana fruit prepared with sugar and crushed almonds, then there are pastries filled with honey, candied fruit or ricotta, sesame covered biscuits, and then of course the Sicilian cannoli pastries and iced sorbets of Arab origin.

Sicily is an immense open-air playground for hiking, mountain biking, climbing up volcanoes (like Stromboli and Mount Etna), horse riding across woodlands and hills, flying in hang gliders between the sky and the sea, free climbing and even rafting, speleological outings in the local caves and grottos, sailing, surfing and scuba diving. Yet there is a corner of Sicily that gives any sportsperson a even more unique thrill, which is where the orange groves and the lapilli of lava meet, yes it’s Mount Etna at 3300 m.a.s.l. – the highest active volcano of Europe -  where it is possible to ski while looking down at the sea, so you can imagine that in  the early months of the year skiers and ski mountaineers alike take over the show.

Through Campo Base you can discover even more about this extraordinary destination which could be an unforgettable place to visit all year round!

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