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There are so many extraordinary cities and towns in Sicily that one visit to this tricorn island, situated midway between Europe and Africa, is never enough.

The magic of Sicily is found in its past and present, both tangible and otherwise, born of a complex history. Each of the civilizations that have swept up onto its sandy shores has left a mark, whether Roman, Arab, Norman, or otherwise. Add to that cultural complexity, exquisite cuisine, open and friendly locals, and a landscape of surpassing natural beauty.

Even small villages in Sicily offer more than you’d expect upon first arrival, and there’s plenty of variety, too. To have the ancient city of Syracuse, the grand capital of Palermo, and effervescent resort towns like Taormina all clustered on a wedge of land roughly the size of Vermont is something close to a miracle.

Here’s a list of the most magical towns in Sicily to visit on your next trip to the island.

Syracuse

View of Syracuse with buildings lined up by the water

Syracuse

A gleaming architectural lacquer of white limestone on Sicily’s southeast tip, Syracuse is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy. It’s been inhabited since the 8th century BC and was once the largest city in the ancient world. Remnants of Syracuse’s origins, a former Greek colony and home to Archimedes, rise from the soil and act as foundations for the thriving city that stands today.

The island’s heart and oldest district is Ortigia. Connected to the rest of the city by two graceful bridges, Ortigia is a honey-hued warren of ostentatious palazzi, lively street markets, and well-stocked wine bars. Its circumference is dotted with breezy restaurant terraces offering lemon-sharpened platters of the produce that encircles them.

Street view of Syracuse with Piazza del Duomo