The largest of the Mediterranean
Islands in the shape of a triangle, Sicilia has a
long and intriguing history filled with king, wars
and natural destruction. All of which helped shape
the island into an intricate part of the Italian culture.
It is often said, "Sicilia is the soul of the
Italian culture". Its economic distress in the
recent past has given Sicilia a bad reputation in
terms of tourism and industrial advancement. Many
tourists and business have shunned away from this
one time most powerful region in the Mediterranean.
Finally after suffering for so long Sicilia has begun
to step out of the shadows of its poverty umbrella
and into the light of its prosperous future.
The Island has always been a strategic
location for generals and rulers. It is a bridge from
the continent of Africa to the continent of Europe.
Every great leader in history has relied on Sicilia
to control the Mediterranean. As a result it has changed
hands on a regular basis, from ruler to ruler and
nation to nation, each one adding to the culture and
spirit of the mysterious island. Starting with the
Greeks in the 8th century who discovered the island
and called it Trinacria, meaning "three points".
They later divided the island into two parts, one
for original inhabitants called Sicani and one part
for immigrates called Siculi.
Sicilia was quiet for centuries while
its new inhabitants got settled in. Then in 246 B.C.
the Romans began their assault on the Island, as they
fought the Carthaginians in the Punic wars until 146
B.C. The Romans ruled until the Byzantines conquered
them in 535. Then the Arab nation under the Aghlabid
dynasty ruled from the capital of Tunisia in the 9th
century. The Normans moved in around the 11th century
and Roger II, the great Norman Count established the
city of Palermo as the Capital. Fredrick II followed
and untied the two regions on the island to form the
kingdom of Sicily. His kingdom reached all the way
to the city of Rome including the entire southern
peninsula. In 1282 a revolt broke up the dynasty.
Alfonso V Magnanimous, an Argon ruler, reunited the
kingdom of Sicily with the Kingdom of Napoli and took
the title of King of the two Sicilies in 1442. The
rule of the Island then passed to the Bourbons of
Napoli by way of a marriage until 1860, when Garibaldi
freed the nation (it was under the Bourbons when Sicilia
underwent its toughest period. Forests and agricultural
land were destroyed in masses). Even in recent history
the Germans during WW II invaded the occupied the
island in order to maintain Mediterranean supremacy
until the American landings in 1943.
Today Sicily is experiencing and
economic resurgence. Oil has been discovered along
the eastern coast and the building industry is growing.
A large part of the island is still very poor, underdeveloped
and has poor agricultural soil. Many of its inhabitants
end up emigrating. The fishing industry remains the
staple of many of the coastal communities.
The beautiful beaches and warm climate
are now turning small coastal towns into lavish vacation
spots with expensive hotel and rich tourists, almost
rivaling the already popular Amalfi coast.
The larger cities like Palermo, Messina,
Siracusa, Agrigento, Taormina, and Catania have become
large cultural "melting pots", with immigrants
coming from Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia added together
with the already large Greek influence, Sicilia has
a feeling all its own (to go long with a dialect that
has progressed from a mixture of so many tongues it
has become a language all of its own).
back to previous page <<<
to Map of Italy