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  • Sicily

    by Anthony Parente


    Sicily
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    Sicily, which is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and the southernmost region of Italy, lies just off mainland Italy. It is separated from the region of Calabria by the Strait of Messina. The island bares a triangular shape and in ancient times it was called Trinacria, which means three pointed.

    The region consists of nine provinces. They include Agrigento, Caltanissetta, Catania, Enna, Messina, Palermo, which is the regional capital, Ragusa, Siracusa and Trapani. In general the area is mostly mountainous culminating with Mount Etna, Europe's largest active volcano. The entire region is surrounded by water. You have the Tyrrhenian Sea bordering the north, the Ionian Sea borders the east and the Mediterranean sea borders the south. In addition to Sicily the region also encompasses the Aeolian, Egadi, Pelagie and Panteleria islands as well as the island of Ustica.

    Prior to Greek colonization the island was initially occupied by three groups. They were the Sicani, Siculi and Elymians and they settled somewhere around 1500 BC. Since that time the island has been conquered and ruled by numerous groups including, but not limited to, the Greeks, Romans, Barbarians, Saracens and Normans. It can be said that the island itself has been a melting pot for various civilizations. Each and every group has contributed in some way to the culture and heritage of Sicily.

    In mythological times Mount Etna was home to the forges of the Roman god Vulcan. It is also home to the one eyed monster Cyclops and the monster Typhon. Located on opposite sides of the Strait of Messina was the six headed monster Scylla and the whirlpool Charybdis, which were two of the perils faced by Odysseus in Homer's epic poem Odyssey. It was also believed that Psyche, who was the youngest daughter of the king & queen of Sicily and the most beautiful person on the island, married Cupid and later became a goddess. These are just a few of the myths surrounding Sicily. A reminder of its mythological roots can be seen throughout Sicily. You can also witness it on the Trinacria, which is the symbol used to represent Sicily. The emblem is that of a woman's head surrounded by three legs. The woman's head on the older symbols is that of the Gorgon Medusa. Newer versions of the Trinacria use a woman's head with no snakes attached.

    There is much to learn about this island in the Mediterranean Sea. From its vast history to its various traditions and customs this guide will help you uncover all the charm and beauty that this region has to offer.

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