Destinations/

Aunt Bette's Homemade Pecan Pie
Rockin’ Rocky Road Ice Cream
Tom’s Heavenly Apple Strudel
Joe’s Divine Butter Tarts
Ortigia, Syracuse, Sicily

SICILY

HISTORY

Start planning your trip now

- 10000 BC

Paleolithic settlement. The cave paintings at Levanzo and Addaura date back to this period

- 2000 BC

Copper Age, more settlers arrive from the Aegean and first evidence of cultivation, animal domestication and trade

- 1000 BC

Bronze Age, the prehistoric villages of Capo Graziano and Punta Milazzese on the Aeolian Islands date back to this period

1250 BC

Ausonian people move to the Aeolian islands and Sikels move inland from the Eastern shores. Sicans and Elymians settle in the West

1100 BC

Phoenicians start settling in the West and later found the cities of Palermo, Solunto and Mothya, which later fell under Carthaginian control

800 BC

The Greek begin colonizing Sicily in search of land for the powerful Magna Graecia. The city of Syracuse is founded in 734 BC and other important Greek colonies are founded, including Gela and Slinunte. Olives and vines are introduced to the fertile lands of Sicily and intensive trade brings extreme wealth to the Magna Graecia. 

480 BC

The alliance of Syracuse, Gela and Agrigento defeat the Carthaginians. Beginning of a Golden Age

450 BC

Ducetius leads a last resistance of the Sicels against the Greek in Eastern Sicily, which is quashed by Syracuse, confirming their dominion

212 BC

Successful Roman siege at Syracuse marks the end of Greek power in Sicily. Roman rule brought peace after centuries of warfare. 

468 AC

Vandals invade from North Africa and end Roman rule in Sicily. The Ostrogoths subsequently gain power in Sicily until the spread of Byzantine influence in the 6th century. The Byzantine emperor Constans moves from Constantinople to Syracuse in 663AC

827

beginning of the Arab invasion at Mazara del Vallo

832

Palermo falls to the Arabs, making it their capital and one of the most populous and cosmopolitan centers in the world. Arabian influence brings religious tolerance, infrastructure and the introduction of new methods of agriculture and fishing

878

the Arabs conquer Syracuse.

1064

Norman crusader Roger de Hautville invades Messina and takes Palermo in 1071. Slowly, the turn of Sicily from an Eastern to a Western society begins, albeit with an exotic flair as the Normans integrate the Arab administrative and justice system and bring changes to language, religion and population

1194

After the death of William II, Norman power declines in Sicily and Hohenstaufen take rule in Sicily, bringing advances in medicine, poetry, science and law

1266

The Angevin French take power in Sicily. The oppressive French are generally detested

1282

The Sicilian Vespers, a Sicilian uprising, begins in Palermo and kills every Frenchman on the island. Sicilians invite Peter of Aragon to become their king. The beginning of five centuries of Spanish domination and isolation from the rest of Italy and Europe

14th century

Sicily is ruled by relatives of the kings of Aragon, essentially making Sicily an independent kingdom. A sense of a Sicilian nation emerged, not longer dividing the population into ethnic groups.

1479

Union of the crowns of Aragon and Castile, Sicily comes under direct Spanish rule and more isolated from the rest of Europe. Spanish attention shifts to the West after the discovery of America from 1492, allowing corrupt nobility and the inquisition to take hold of Sicily

16th century

Isolation and misgovernment continue. The reinforcement of a feudal system leaves estates and lands in the hands of Massari or Gabellotti. Growing discontent leads to a rise of brigandry supported by a code of silence among the oppressed population - the early beginnings of the mafia.

1647

the revolt of Palermo as a consequence of a deepening misery under Spanish misrule is quashed. The revolt at Messina in 1674-78 is also unsuccessful

1669

eruption of Mount Etna destroys much around Catania

1693

A massive earthquake, followed by an outbreak of the plague, devastates large parts of the Eastern coast and leaves 5% of the population dead. The towns of Noto, Ragusa, Scicli and Modica are destroyed, but are rebuilt in some of Europe’s most spectacular baroque architecture

18th century

Sicily is granted to the House of Savoy in the Treaty of Utrecht, who trade Sicily to the Austrian Habsburgs in 1720. Bourbon King Charles I reclaims Sicily for the Spanish in 1734. After Chales I becomes Charles III of Spain, Sicily is indirectly governed by Naples. 

1799

Napoleon invades Naples and Ferdinand IV of Naples flees to Palermo in Admiral Nelsons flagship. The British are committed to preserving Sicily’s security and the Mediterranean sea routes open against the French.

1815

The British abandon Sicily to the Bourbons after Napoleon’s defeat

1820

Beginning of popular revolts, reaching a head in 1848

1860

With revolts opening the way for the Italian socialist Garibaldi, he takes the island with the aid of the Sicilian redshirts and convinces the peasant class to vote for Italian unification. Sicily remains under distant government and the old aristocracy maintains most privileges

1866

the Palermo revolt is squashed by Italy

1876

Misgovernment, high taxes and few voting rights lead to more discontent and widespread poverty, resulting in mass immigration from 1876 and 1914

1908

a massive earthquake at Messina kills 80,000 and destroys 90% of the city

1922 - 43

Mussolini becomes prime minister. Sicily becomes strategically more important during Mussolini’s colonisation attempts in North Africa

1943

after six weeks of bombing, the Allies land in Southern Sicily to begin the liberation of Europe from Hitler

1946

Sicily becomes and autonomous region of Italy

1951 - 71

mass immigration of 1,5 million people, mainly to Northern Italy, Germany and the US

1958

Italy joins the European Union

1986/87

the "maxiprocessi" against over 500 mafia members

1992

assassination of judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino by the mafia

1993

arrest of the boss of the bosses Salvatore Riina

1997 - 2015

The Valley of Temples, the Villa Romana del Casale, Aeolian Islands, baroque towns of the Noto valley, Norman Palermo and the Cathedrals of Cefalu and Monreale are all declared UNESCO World heritage sites

History Sicily