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Top 5 Interesting Facts about Sicily

The Gulf of Mondello seen from Monte pellegrino
Photo taken by Andrea Calcagno -  The Gulf of Mondello seen from Monte pellegrino

The Italian region of Sicily is more than just the birthplace of the Mafia and the land of deep family traditions. Some time ago, it was also a part of Magna Graecia, or “Great Greece”, and home to over 2 million people around a thousand years ago, which, at the time, was one of the most densely populated regions in the world. Furthermore, the region’s capital Palermo is one of the leading cities in terms of street food. Here we offer you 5 more interesting facts about this marvellous region of Italy.

1. Palermo is one of the five cities Forbes Magazine deemed as having the tastiest and most varied street food. The magazine encouraged its readers to visit the city and try the various dishes offered on its streets. Here you can find the following delicacies: Arancini (the famous Sicilian rice balls with a filling of pork or other meat) and Pannele (baked chickpeas with various herbs, eaten with a slice of bread).

View of open air seafood market in Ballaro famous neighborhood in Palermo
Photo taken by  View of open air seafood market in Ballaro famous neighborhood in Palermo

2. One of the world’s best mathematicians – Archimedes – was born and lived in Sicily. He is the author of the famous phrase – “Don’t touch my circles!“ – used to this day. It was uttered when the ancient Roman army occupied Greece.

3. Italy is home to one of Western Europe’s largest underground economies, stimulated, largely, by Sicily. Here, even the word “family” has criminal undertones. When we say “Sicily”, oftentimes what we mean is really “Mafia”. According to legend, the word “Mafia” itself originated as an acronym of the phrase “Morte Alla Francia, Italia Anela” (“Death to the French is Italy’s Cry”), which was the motto of Sicilians fighting the French in 1282.

Photo taken by Kadras iš filmo „Krikštatėvis“.  

The famous Cosa Nostra came about a good 450 years later. This criminal syndicate was so powerful and cruel that even to this day people speak of “the family” and “the godfather”.

4. Economically, Sicily is one of the poorest regions in Italy. The average wage in the northern part of the country is two times bigger than in the country’s south. The official unemployment rate is twice that of the national average, hovering around 20%.

Aerial view of Palermo from Santa Maria Assunta cathedral in Palermo
Photo taken by  Aerial view of Palermo from Santa Maria Assunta cathedral in Palermo

5. Deep under Sicily, two powerful tectonic plates are rubbing up against each other: the Eurasian and the African Plates. The intersection of these plates is marked in a fairly striking manner, and missing it is nearly impossible – located right over this site is Europe’s highest and most active volcano – Etna. Its last eruption took place on October 26, 2013. The rich imagination of ancient Greece made the crater of the fire-breathing Etna the home of cyclops and the god of blacksmiths Hephaestus. According to scientists, Etna is around 60,000 years old.

Comments (1)

Anonymous   10 months ago  Edited
'Mafia' (Morte Alla Francia, Italia Anela) isn't an anagram, it is an acronym. Please fix this.
Admin answer: Thank you, the sentence is fixed.