Hill Towns of Sicily
The hill towns of Sicily provide us with a modern-day glimpse into a land where time has largely stood still. For some Sicilians, the rate of progress and development on their island is too slow but there are many that are happy with the status quo which helps to protect the ancient traditions and ways of life.
Sicily's hill towns were created at a time of great uncertainty where wars, rape and pillage were an almost constant threat to daily life. To provide some level of security from external forces, the towns were built on hills which were easier to protect and further strengthened by fortresses and our outer walls.
Over time, that threat level has gradually reduced and the hill towns that are left, strewn across the Sicilian landscape, are admired now for their aesthetic charms rather than for their defensive capability. One such town is Taormina which is one of the most enchanting locations in Italy. When you consider it has an Ancient Greek Theatre in one corner which is overlooked by fuming Mount Etna in the distance, a delightful historic centre with some extraordinary churches, a set of beaches that includes the magical Isola Bella and numerous medieval streets that are just begging to be explored, it's easy to understand why it's such a popular destination.
Among the other most treasured of the Sicilian hill towns is little Erice which occupies a commanding position overlooking the port city of Trapani. Erice's Castello di Venere is one of its most popular visitor sights, along with a number of historic churches. Colourful borghi such as Castelbuono and Gagliano Castelferrato are among the most engaging villages in Italy, while the fame of Forza d'Agrò has spread internationally with the advent of the Godfather trilogy of films in which it was used as a backdrop in certain scenes.