our guide to the best of sicily

coolest hotels sicily – hip hotels sicily

Looking for the most beautiful hotels in Sicily  ? You’ve come to the right place.

Sicily has it all. Great scenery, great food, and some really world class luxury and design hotels. Hence why Sicily is the next destination for the Beautifuldotcom team. I’m particularly looking forward to visiting some of the many beautiful Palazzi. Photos to follow!

There are a few fabulous hotels on the main island, as well as some of the outliers – I particularly love the traditional Seven Room Villadorata, and the architect project Casa Talia – soon to play host to the Beautifuldotcom team – can’t wait! – and the spectacular loft Minerale Suite at Monaci Delle Terre Nere.

And why not check out our other Italian pages    *    Amalfi Coast  *    Capri    *    Florence   *    Lakes and Mountains   *   Milan   *   Rome   *    Central Italy and Sardinia   *   Tuscany    *     the rest of South Italy   *

Scroll down for the most beautiful hotels in Sicily …

quick guide to the history of sicily

If you’re a fan of history, Sicily has a lot of it! Most of the major players over the course of the history of Western Europe have played a part – the Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantines, Muslim arabs, the Normans, Bourbons, and the Italian nationalists and then fascists.

Greeks, Carthaginians and Romans

Greeks started to colonise the island from around the 7th century BCE – Syracuse for example was originally a Corinthian colony – and the temples at Agrigento are among the best preserved Greek temples anywhere. During the Greek era Sicily was home to, amongst others, Archimedes and briefly, Plato. Between 500 and 300 BCE the island was a battleground between Athens, the Phoenicians and the Carthaginians from North Africa, before the rise of Rome around 200 BCE absorbed Sicily which became an important source of food for the republic and then empire. The island is also home to some Roman villas and mosaics.

Germans, Byzantines and Muslim Arabs

As the western Roman Empire collapsed under pressure from various germanic groups  – the Goths, Huns, Vandals and latterly the Lombards – the rents that had previously been paid to Rome as tax were redirected to local elites, who prospered as a result and squeezed the local peasants. The Byzantines put up a defence, and for a long time Sicily remained one of the last bastions of what became the eastern Roman Empire in the west. It came under increasing pressure from the rising power of Islam in North Africa, with constant raiding for many years before the arabs finally took possession around 827 AD. The arabs introduced cotton crops, pistachios and sugar cane – the latter mainly cultivated using slave labour.

Normans, French and Spanish

The Arabs remained in place until the former Viking Norman mercenaries then active in southern Italy realised that they were stronger than the states that employed them and took control themselves, going on to destroy Arab power in Sicily by around 1072. Unfortunately in the process the Normans also destroyed most of the local Arabic towns and architecture. However, in their defence, the Normans did build some fabulous churches, some of which have obvious Arabic influences. And then the muslims were expelled from Sicily in 1221.

The Normans were in turn replaced by the French, who were in short order replaced by the Spanish kingdom of Aragon. The Spanish ruled from several hundred years, but as the Spanish Empire began to collapse, the Spanish kings started squeezing Sicily for tax revenue, and gave the local elites a free reign in return for this tax revenue. Several families grew to administer vast feudal estates and wealth distribution became more and more unequal. Corruption lead to large areas of agricultural lands lying unused while the poorer sections of the population starved. Feudalism was only formally abolished in 1812, by Napoleon.

Nationalists and Fascists

Garibaldi started his nationalist campaign in Sicily in 1860, large numbers of Sicilians emigrated to the United States in the late 19th century and early 20th century and the mid 20th century saw the rise of the Italian fascists and the mafia.

And then the invasion of the allied troops during World War 2, and then the Christian Democrats.

History hasn’t been kind to Sicily.

the best books to read on your trip to sicily

The classic Sicily book is without doubt ‘The Leopard’ by Tomasi Di Lampedusa. The book explores the decline of the old Bourbon aristocracy over the years following Garibaldi’s revolt on the island on 1860, and the eventual unification of Italy and establishment of a constitutional monarchy. The story is told from the perspective of one of those aristocratic families as they attempt to continue with their lives, going through the cycle of denial and acceptance. I struggled to get into the book, I must admit – the language is quite dense – possibly a property of the translation rather than the original text, but of course it is difficult to say. Having said that, if you can get into the rhythm of the language you’ll be rewarded with a fascinating insight into a fascinating era in Sicily’s history.

beautifuldotcom

Beautifuldotcom was born after I spent several hours researching a forthcoming trip, and found myself extremely disappointed at the quality of information available to me. Websites varied between sycophantic adverts written by prostitute journalists and bloggers desperate for a free trip, and angry rants from people I didn’t know or care about who felt the need to address some slight by wasting other people’s time and energy.

Beautifuldotcom is different. We don’t get paid to promote anything. If we like it, it’s on the site. If we don’t, it isn’t. Simple. Our mission is the promote beautiful places and things. I often find myself struggling to build an itinerary in a location – there are lots of recommendations for hotels with great service. restaurants with great food and bars with great cocktails. Fine. But what about the interior design? Am I going to feel special? Our priorities aren’t for everyone, but beauty is important to you, stick with us.

keep scrolling for more of the most beautiful hotels in Sicily  …

most beautiful bars in Sicily

Ok, it’s early days in my research in this area. At this stage I’ve only found the one, but I’ll be adding to this list, assuming of course that there are actually more beautiful bars in Sicily !

And you might also be interested in our other Italian pages    *    Amalfi Coast  *    Capri    *    Florence   *    Lakes and Mountains   *   Milan   *   Rome   *    Central Italy and Sardinia   *   Tuscany    *     the rest of South Italy   *

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