Most holiday makers in Sicily come for the sun and the sea, and they are never disappointed!
But there is much more to Sicily than just the sea. Few people realise, before they see it, that Sicily is full of lush green expanses of unspoiled countryside.
It has more than 70 nature reserves. Most of them go unmentioned in the guide books and are known only to insiders. The few holiday makers who discover them have the unique opportunity – for the time being - to see unspoiled Mediterranean plants and animals almost on their own.
The Sicilian countryside can be explored all year round and has different charms in every season. Whilst the typical beach holiday in Sicily falls in the summer months, the nature reserves are equally appealing in winter, which to northern Europeans feels more like spring: the picture above was taken in January 2011 in the Madonie. No wonder more and more Northern Europeans are beginning to spend their winter holidays in Sicily!
Of course, one holiday in Sicily (or even spending a whole winter) is not enough to visit all 70 nature reserves, so the menu on the left offers a selection of particularly interesting places to visit. They focus on western Sicily, close to the holiday apartments we recommend, which offer the ideal base if you want to spend as little of your holiday as possible in a hire car or a train.
Ficuzza is at a glance a small, inconspicuous place 25 km south of Palermo. It is, however, in the middle of one of the largest and most prized forests in Sicily, the "Bosco della Ficuzza".
The Madonie is a mountain range in northern Sicily, and the "Parco delle Madonie" is the nature nature reserve around the mountains. Thanks to their vast forests, the Madonie Mountains are one of the most biologically diverse areas in the entire Mediterranean. They are also dotted with charming mountain villages to explore.
Monte Catalfano is a nature reserve just outside of Palermo. It's the perfect place to combine urban tourism with hiking. Monte Catalfano is a great place to visit even in winter. It is right by the sea and offers a unique panoramic view of the Gulf of Palermo and Termini Imerese.
The Scala dei Turchi is one of the most striking natural phenomena in Sicily, a dazzling white rock formation rising majestically from the sea.
Zingaro, or the "Riserva Naturale Dello Zingaro", is the first nature reserve to have been established in Sicily. It was set aside in 1981 after a citizens' initiative blocked the construction of a coastal road. Because it touches the coast, Zingaro is ideal for visits in winter.
We have dedicated a website to each of these reserves. It provides maps of the journey to them, and tourist itineraries by hire car, Trenitalia or coach and of course the location of points of interest.