Strabo, the Greek geographer, at one time terms Sicily an '-addition",
at another a "detached portion" of Italy; and there is indeed not one of
the surrounding islands so intimately "allied, geographically as well as
historically, with the great peninsula which bisects the Mediterranean.
Goethe has justly observed that, without Sicily, Italy would lose much of
its charms. "The climate cannot be too highly extolled; the beauties are
innumerable." This cannot fail to be experienced by every traveller who
forms acquaintance with this "pearl among islands"- Nor is the beauty
of the scenery the sole attraction to the wanderer from the north. Those
who possess even a superficial knowledge of history cannot but experience
a profound interest in the places with which the most ancient Hellenic
and Roman traditions are connected, where the destinies of Athens, Car¬
thage and Rome have been decided, and where such heroes of the middle
ages as Henry VI. and Frederick II. have ruled. Not a nation exists
which has materially influenced the destinies of European civilisation, that
has not left distinct traces of its activity in this island.
Those whose time and resources permit are therefore strongly recom¬
mended to visit Sicily before proceeding homewards. A single week will
suffice for an excursion to Palermo and its environs as far as Segesta. The
celebrated ruins of Selinunto and Girgenti would require a second week.
Those, however, whose taste leads them to prefer exploring the beautiful,
imposing and peculiar natural features of the island, should confine their
attention to the N. and E. coast as far as Syracuse, for which a fortnight
may suffice, without extending their tour to the ruins on the less picturesque
Travelling in Sicily is no longer attended with the difficulties and
dangers of former years, but those who desire more than a mere super¬
ficial acquaintance with the island must be prepared for numerous priva¬
tions and considerable expense. Hotels worthy of the name are nowhere
to be found except at Palermo, 3Iessina, Taormina, Catania, Syracuse and
Trapani. Vermin everywhere.
The circuit of the island is performed by steamers weekly; starting-
point Palermo, principal stations 3Iessina and Syracuse.
A short railway runs from Palermo to Termini, and the important line
between Messina and Catania has been recently opened. The entire net¬
work of railways, with which the island is destined to lie intersected, has
been commenced, but the only line now approaching completion is that
from Catania to Lentini. Until the completion of these railways the
traveller must avail himself of other modes of conveyance. Carriages may
be hired in all the larger towns, and when drawn by three horses progress
with tolerable rapidity^ accomplishing about 40 31. daily. The usual charge
throughout the island' for a carriage, when engaged for several days, is
20—25 1. per diem, including toll-dues (la catena) and everything except a
gratuity (buona mano, bottiglia) to the driver. For a party of 3—4 pers.