Sicily's History

Various tribes from modern day Spain and the Italian mainland settled in Sicily from 8000BC. The first Greek colonisers arrived in 750BC eventually dominating the island so much that Cicero described Syracuse as the greatest city in Magna Graecia. Carthaginians colonised the western part of the island and clashes erupted into the longest war in Antiquity; the Greek Punic War. Sicily became the first Roman province outside Italy in 242BC becoming Rome’s granary. Rome’s demise brought the Vandals in 440 followed by the Goths and then the Greek Byzantines. Arabs finally subdued the island in 965 initiating a surprisingly progressive era which ended with Norman conquest in 1091. Dominion of Sicily was passed around various European Crowns beginning with Normans and including, Germans, Aragon, Spain, Austrians and French. In 1848 Sicily gained independence from Naples only to be incorporated into Garibaldi’s new Kingdom of Italy in 1860. In 1943 Sicily’s invasion by the Allies precipitated the downfall of Mussolini.

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Sun blessed Sicily is not only the largest island in the Mediterranean but also the largest region of Italy. Its strategic location in the middle of the sea has ensured it remains a stepping stone between Africa and Europe; its many conquerors leaving their mark on the genes, architecture, landscape, cuisine and language of the historic island. In the 1920’s the power of Sicily’s Mafia became legendary and endures till today. The island escaped major industrialisation and its economy is still dependent on agriculture, especially citrus crops and wineries. Awesome Mt Etna is both an ever present threat and tourist drawcard.

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