Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, covering around 10,000 square miles. It is separated from the mainland by just 1.5 miles and surrounded by three different seas: the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the Ionian Sea. The island has around 600-miles of coastline.
It has a population of almost six million and is the fourth most populous region in Italy, making up around 8.5% of Italy’s total population.
Some of the great people to have hailed from Sicily include the mathematician Archimedes; Domenico Dolce, one half of the iconic fashion house Dolce and Gabbana; James Bond girl Maria Grazia Cucinotta; actress Claudia Cardinale; and musician and composer Vincenzo Bellini.
It takes roughly three and a half hours to cross the island from east to west, and around two and a half hours to cross from north to south.
Over four fifths of Sicily is hilly and mountainous, and the island is also home to a number of volcanoes, including Mount Etna.
Sicily’s capital, Palermo, was elected as the European Capital of Street Food by Forbes back in 2015, and has been named Culture Capital of Italy 2018.
A large percentage of Sicily’s population consider themselves to be Sicilian rather than Italian, with a local dialect spoken by around 70% of its people. Along with Italian and Sicilian, other languages spoken on the island include French, German, Arabic and Romanian.
Giardini Naxos is 302 km from Palermo and 53 km from Catania. It has a population of just over 9,000 and is five metres above sea-level.
Together with Taormina and Letojanni, Giardini Naxos is one of the most famous seaside resorts in eastern Sicily.
The local economy is driven by agriculture, tourism and handicrafts. Local produce includes pasta, wine, lemons, olive oil, wrought ironworks, decorative ceramics and furniture.
The town dates back to 734 BC, when the ancient Greeks founded one of the first colonies in Italy and named it after the island of Naxos in the Aegean Sea. It was later renamed Giardini after the citrus gardens in the region, with Naxos re-added in 1978 in honour of the town’s cultural heritage.
Once a quiet fishing village and now a popular tourist destination among local and international holidaymakers, the bustling coastal town offers fantastic beaches and panoramic views of nearby Taormina and over to the mainland.
The seafront, with its sandy beach and promenade, is lined with bars, pizzerias, ice cream parlours, restaurants and shops. In summer, the town is still buzzing with life after midnight with bars and restaurants staying open until late.
Among the local delicacies you can enjoy in Giardini Naxos are arancini rice balls served with meat and sfincione, a pizza featuring tomato sauce, caciocavallo cheese, onions and anchovies.
The main beach has a good variety of water sports on offer. It is particularly good for snorkelling and diving due to its clear waters and marine life and is home to several diving schools offering trips to Capo Taormina, where Luc Besson's cult movie The Big Blue was filmed.
The sonnet, a popular form of poetry, first originated in Sicily. Mostly associated with the works of William Shakespeare, they were invented in the early 13th century by a poet from the Sicilian school of poetry, Giacoma da Lentini.