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The autumnal delights of Sicily

If you’re looking for a getaway, autumn is a perfect time to take a holiday to Sicily. The Italian island is awash with the heady colours and scents of autumn and many towns and villages celebrate the fruits of their agricultural labour with harvest festivals. The weather is cooler and there are fewer crowds, making it the perfect time to enjoy some of the many activities on offer in this beautiful region.

♣ Weather
Situated at the centre of the Mediterranean, around 100 miles from North Africa, Sicily boasts warm, sunny days for most of the year. For the autumn months, starting in September, the high temperatures of the summer cool to around 30 degrees, dropping to the mid-20s in October and the late teens in November, ideal sightseeing and activity weather.  In October and November you may get a few showers, but these refreshing downpours tend to pass quickly and serve to keep the landscape lush and the harvest bountiful.

♣ Hiking and walking
As the landscape begins to turn brown and orange and the weather starts to cool, autumn becomes the ideal time for exploring Sicily by foot.

Sicily - hiking and walking

A two to four hour round-trip hike to the summit craters of imposing Mount Etna – the highest active volcano in Europe at 3,323m (10,902ft) – rewards walkers with stunning views across the island. Lo Zingaro Nature Reserve, just west of Palermo, offers a ruggedly spectacular coastline, which is ideal for wildlife spotting and exploring the coves and sea stacks that the wind has sculpted from the hard limestone cliffs. Or why not pay a visit to the Nebrodi National Park to walk or mountain bike around the peaceful lakes, villages, valleys and mountains of this beautiful area?

♣ Harvest festivals and celebrations of food
Most villages hold their own food or wine festivals – called sagre – to celebrate the wonderful produce of each region.

Food and drink in Sicily

Music, concerts, open air restaurants, markets, costumes, games and parties are all used to mark these exciting times. There is a wealth of harvest celebrations to keep the culinary juices flowing throughout the autumn months.  Olives, hazelnuts, grapes, mushrooms, prickly pears, oranges and mandarins are also flourishing and ready for gathering throughout the season.

Great festivals include the grape harvest festival, the Festa della Vendemmia in Piedimonte Etneo, on the eastern flanks of Mount Etna (28th – 30th September), and Sortino’s Celebration of Sicilian Honey (first weekend in October).

♣ Sightseeing
Make the most of this quieter season and gentle climate by paying a visit to The Valley of the Temples near Agrigento on the south coast.

Sightseeing in Sicily

The valley is home to eight ancient Greek temples, in various states of decay, including the many sturdy columns of The Temple of Hercules and the remarkably well-preserved Temples of Concord. The whole site is surrounded by stunning olive groves and overlooks the Mediterranean Sea.

Make sure to leave enough time to visit the nearby National Archaeological Museum, as it is filled with fascinating information and ancient artefacts – a must for history lovers of all ages.

♣ Where to stay
As September and October are outside peak season, some hotels and restaurants may be closed. A more flexible option is to stay in a villa or holiday apartment. You will have the freedom to prepare your own meals and enjoy your holiday as you please without being restricted by out-of-season offerings. For an upmarket getaway, luxury villa specialist Think Sicily offers a range of villas in Sicily with options at various locations throughout the region. See www.thinksicily.com for more information.

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