Not content with being the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily is an Italian region in its own right and holidaymakers are treated to the unique treasures of this beguiling country.
Sicily appears to be on the receiving end of a kick from boot-shaped Italy, situated as it is at the “toe”. Visitors are attracted to this island thanks to a Mediterranean climate, world-class cuisine, Greek ruins, lively towns, rural experiences and a terrific array of beautiful beaches. Sicily hotels are geared up well for welcoming tourists throughout the year as, unlike the Italian island of Sardinia, Sicily doesn't shut down for the winter.
Crowned by trembling Mount Etna, one of the most active volcanoes in the world, the whole island can sometimes feel like a roller-coaster ride, with tales of mafia corruption and crazy city streets demanding your undivided attention. But there are places where politics and high-rise buildings fade into insignificance, and many rural beauty spots have opened up for tourism with hotels and accommodation springing up in the glorious interior.
You can book hotels in Sicily in the island's exciting cities, towns and coastal resorts as well as in rural beauty spots. Sicily hasn't really gone down the road of purpose-built tourist resorts; in Sicily, you stay in areas that feel genuine and authentic... because they are!
You'll find budget hotels and B&Bs in charming old houses, and luxury hotels on the outskirts of towns and villages that boast every amenity you can possibly desire during your stay. Some of the finest five-star hotels ooze history and charm, though there are a few new hotels in Sicily, with a more modern take on things. Many hotels offer accommodation on a half-board basis.
While the majority of hotels are locally owned and managed, there are several well-known brands on the island such as Hilton, NH Hoteles, Best Western, Orient-Express, Charme & Relax and AMT.
Stay in the beach resorts of Giardini Naxos, Cefalu, Mortelle or Mondello, or go for big-town thrills in Palermo, Catania and Trapani. Taormina, which has ancient roots, is another popular coastal resort.
Winters are cooler and experience more rain than spring, summer and autumn, though the island remains in business all year. You will get cheaper hotel prices during winter.
Top five attractions
Europe's highest active volcano imposes itself on the Sicilian skyline. Hiking and organised tours are two ways to get a closer view, or you can hop aboard the cable car.
Hot mud baths and natural spas are scattered across this fascinating string of volcanic islands. Ferries run frequently between them and Sicily.
Amphitheatre at Taormina
This ancient Greek amphitheatre and one of Sicily's finest ruins is set against a truly breath-taking backdrop.
A must-see part of Sicily: Baroque buildings and historical ruins abound while stunning beaches are lapped by perfectly clear waters.
Valley of the Temples, just outside Agrigento
Eight temples from as early as 500BC form one of the most important archaeological sites in Europe.
Carnival; February: Until recent times, it was difficult to look outside of the mainland for Italian carnivals, but Sicily has been rivalling the big-name festivities for a few years now. Hotels are hard to come by during the event, but persist for a great party.
L'Infiorata (flower art festival); May: As if Sicily wasn't pretty enough, during this event the locals decorate the town of Noto with lavish artworks made of flower petals.
Ottobrata; October: Each Sunday in October thousands travel to the town of Zafferana Etnea to join the locals as they herald the end of summer with a festival of eating and drinking. It's a great opportunity to sample the Sicilian produce - but be cautious of the local brews as some of them can be deceptively potent.