10 reasons why Sicily should be your next family holiday

You might think Sicily is one destination where it’s best to leave the children behind – or wait until they’re older. Dramatic but sometimes forbidding landscape, serious cultural sights, and madcap cities like Palermo seem to cry out for a grown-up approach. But don’t be put off. Sicily has a huge amount to offer families with small children.

1. Ice cream

Sure, this isn’t a uniquely Sicilian treat, but the Sicilians feel they do it best, and your two euros are always well spent, keeping morale high and little legs moving. Just picking from the vast variety of flavours is a game in itself.

2. The food in general

It’s amazing. Pasta, of course, but seafood too. Many coastal villages have fishmongers where the fishermen bring home their fish, squid or shrimp which you can buy or eat at a cafe next door. And everywhere, even in humble or apparently touristy cafes, fuelling up the children without whingeing is easy. Ubiquitous orange rice balls – arancini –  will help prevent many a meltdown; as every parent knows, life is much easier when the troops have full stomachs.

A market in bustling Palermo Credit: GETTY

3. Weather

It might be best to avoid the crushing heat of high summer. But in spring and autumn, Sicily is a great warm weather getaway. The heat isn’t always Factor-50 worthy, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing as you don’t have to keep basting the nippers with suncream.

4. Distance

Flights from two and a half hours, which feels just that crucial bit more tolerable than four hours to Greece. A snack and an iPad film, and you are there.

5. Islands off the island

A boat trip is always an excitement for children and getting to the Egadi islands is easy and quick from Trapani, while the Aeolian islands are accessible from Milazzo. You can also take boats from places like Castellammare del Golfo to coves on the Lo Zingaro reserve.

6. Beaches

For determined sandcastle builders, there’s a lot of coastline to work with, some of it protected in natural reserves, like Vendicari, south of Syracuse, or Lo Zingaro, west of Palermo. But wherever you are, you will almost certainly be close to a beach, and that means you can pop to the sand for an hour or two, and then head elsewhere if the mood takes you.

Vendicari Credit: GETTY

7. Culture

And you will want to head elsewhere. Small children are as curious and impatient as adults. Major attractions like the Temples at Agrigento or the great Norman basilica at Monreale have the jaw dropping power to stop even small children in their tracks. Variety in a small area is Sicily’s chief attraction. If one thing doesn’t work, just zip to the next.

Agrigento Credit: jiduha – Fotolia

8. Mount Etna

If you land in Catania, the great volcano will loom over you as you arrive. What!? A real volcano?! Children can’t quite contain their excitement.

A real volcano? Awesome Credit: FERNANDO FAMIANI

9. Hill towns

Modica, Ragusa and Ortigia are blissful, often pedestrianised, mazes to explore, full of steps to run up and down, nooks and alleyways for the children to poke their noses into while you drink in both the surrounding beauty – and maybe a well earned Birra Moretti too.

Ragusa Credit: GETTY

10. Reception

Sicilians are a little more reserved than many Italians. But it’s still a culture which treasures children and where you are welcomed, not sighed at, when you arrive with the bambini.

social experiment by Livio Acerbo #greengroundit #flipboard https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/family-holidays/why-sicily-is-the-best-part-of-italy-for-kids/