The Coasts of Sicily

Sicily IslandA fact not sufficiently appreciated by most holidaymakers is the con­siderable height of all inland parts of Sicily Island. There are no low lying plains or valleys in the middle of the island. The mountain­ous four fifths of the island is largely table land. Towns like Cal­tanissetta, Corleone, Piazza Armerina and Caltagirone are all table land towns, surrounded by ranges of hills and mountains. Climatically, these places are continental as compared with Palermo and Catania, with a drier, keener air, and sharp differences in temperature between night and day.

The south coast of Sicily is mainly rocky and precipitous, with cliffs varying between thirty and sixty feet in height. There are no mountains of any eminence behind them, so that the view of the island from this side is not impressive. A feature of this coast is the sandbanks which thinly border it. Between Gela and Scoglitti and to the east of Selinunte there are also sand-hills. As there are no natural harbours along this unbroken coast, which very much resembles that of the western Adriatic, it was absolutely impracticable during a southerly gale until the recent construction of the artificial ports of Licata, Porto Empedocle and Sciacca.

South of Catania, the coast, at first flat and straight, becomes rocky again at Cape Campolato, and, winding in curves, forms two of the few excellent natural harbours of Sicily, those of Augusta and Syracuse. From Cape Murro di Porco to Cape Passaro the land is still rocky, but fairly even.

To the west of Cape San Marco the cliffs along the coast become lower and disappear altogether after Mazzara del Vallo. From Mazzara del Vallo to Trapani the coast is flat and bordered by vineyards, which slope gradually upwards to the Monti di Gibellina. These vineyards produce the grapes from which Marsala wine is made. The only natural harbours on this western coast are those of Trapani and Marsala, both very inferior to those of the north and east coasts.

The volcanic island of Sicily is, of course, rich in mineral waters. The best-known of these, generally sulphurous or ferru­ginous, are found at Castroreale in the province of Mes­sina, at Acireale, Paterno, near Catania, Termini Imerese near Palermo, and at Sciacca on the south coast.