Sicily is the biggest island in the Mediterranean. However, what most people first think of when they hear it mentioned, is what Tony Soprano calls "that thing of ours', or, to use the word they so much like to avoid, -- the Mafia. Well, apparently, the organization stems from Sicily. But did you know that not only is Italy's crime rate much lower than of most West European countries (especially when compared to the United Kingdom or France), but that within Italy Sicily has a considerably lower frequency of crime than the big cities of the North - like Milan or Turin. So regarding this it is quite essential to tell stereotypes from reality!

Sicily has a population of five million, and with an area of 25 thousand square kilometers, it occupies roughly eight per cent of the Italian land. Palermo is the island's biggest city and also its capital.

It is no less than 2,700 years old! Throughout its history, it has seen a lot of changes. The Greeks were there, then of course the Romans, later Arabs invaded the city and the whole of Sicily. All of them - fortunately for us! - left architectural witnesses of their culture, and an amazing number of them can still be marvelled at today. They all had an impact on the island's language too: Sicilian is classified as an independent language by most linguists, although it does have a lot in common with Italian. Most people in Sicily are bilingual - virtually everyone speaks Italian, though usually with a thick Sicilian accent - which almost makes their speech sound like music. These days English is also quite common on Sicily. This has to do with tourism on the one hand, but also lately globalization has had the effect of spreading the knowledge of English throughout Sicily.
It is important to note that, although agriculture is still a major economic factor, Sicily clearly has arrived in the modern age, and its service sector is big and growing, and this even goes for IT, despite the fact that many people would not immediately associate it with Sicily. But be aware, this island is out to surprise you!

Sicily's climate is classified as Mediterranean, but also as Subtropical. Since the summers are very dry, the heat actually appears a lot milder than it really is. It has been said that a winter on Sicily seems a bit like a spring in Paris. Sounds good, doesn't it? The Italian mainland is not far from the island - at one point the distance is just about five kilometers. Sicily's landscape is fairly varied. There are high mountains, plains, beautiful, sandy beaches, but also high cliffs - and then, of course, there is a famous volcano: Mount Etna, standing 3,329 meters high, Europe's second biggest active volcano. Its last eruption was in 2008. Approaching Etna as close as possible - this is one thing, among so many others, that adventurer tourists like to do on Sicily.

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