Sicily is a great place to bring history to life for little ones. If they’re studying the ancient Greeks and Romans at school then the Valley of the Temples (Valle dei Templi) is home to some of the best preserved ancient Greek temples in the world and also includes a number of Roman remains too. The Greek remains are the most impressive though and include the Temple of Concord as well as the Temple of Juno. The Temple of Zeus no longer stands but what does remain is a copy of the giant stone figure. More Roman remains can be found at Villa Romana del Casale at Piazza Armerina, home to the world’s largest collection of Roman mosaics, dating to the 4th and 5th centuries AD. The most famous of these is the ‘Coronation of the Winner’ known more affectionately as the ‘Bikini Girls’ mosaic…. You’ll easily see why when you visit.
It’s not just an opportunity to broaden their history knowledge. With its very own active stratovolcano on the island – Mount Etna – Sicily is also the perfect spot to expand their knowledge of geography. If you’re travelling with some little legs amongst you, then you may want to minimise the walking by making use of the funivia and minibus’s that run up the mountainside. Or for something more authentic than a vehicle with four wheels, another great option for families is a donkey trekking tour up the side of the volcano. The use of donkeys as a mode of transport goes back centuries in rural Sicily.
For those that enjoy the company of four legged friends, you may want to look at a pony trekking excursion. There are treks for beginners to experienced riders. Or, why not take off on two wheels and hire bikes to explore the island as a family.
Of course, children will also love the fantastic stretches of Sicily’s coastline and fantastic beaches. Wherever you have chosen as your base for your stay in Sicily, you’ll find long plenty of white sandy beaches and pebbled coves. Some of the most family friendly include the San Vito Lo Capo Beach, the beach at Isola Bella (which is particularly good if the youngsters want to enjoy some snorkelling), and the Torre Salsa Nature Reserve Beach.
If you fancy a break from the beach but you still want to be able to cool off in the water, then why not head to one of the many waterparks in Sicily. One of the largest and most popular is Etnaland. There are plenty of slides and rides here to suit all ages as well as a hydro pool, wave pool and lazy river. It’s a great place for families and friends to have fun together, as many rides can be enjoyed in twos or even in larger groups. One ride even allows up to 6 people to race down the slide to see who can get to the bottom first! Other popular water parks in Sicily include Acqua Verde and Acquapark Conte but there are many more smaller parks dotted around the island.
For older children and teens, there are plenty of other watersports on offer to keep them entertained. From canyoning in the gorges of Alcantara in Messina to scuba diving and water-skiing off the shores of Sicily, and from canoeing to snorkelling, there are ample opportunities to either try a new sport for the first time or hire the equipment to practice a skill you’re already familiar with.
If you prefer to stay dry or if you’re visiting outside the Summer months, Etnaland also boasts a fantastic theme park with plenty of exciting rides to test the bravery of even the most fearless youngsters amongst you!
Or, if your children are looking for a physical challenge, why not take them to a tree-top assault course. There are a number of companies offering these experiences, with a choice of courses to suit different ages and abilities. These include Parcallario, the Nebrodi Adventure Park and the Monti Rossi Adventure Park but there are others to choose from on the island as well.
For more creative types, why not treat your children to a ceramic making lesson. Caltagirone has a long history of ceramic making and there are plenty of workshops in the city offering the chance for you and your children to create your very own ceramic masterpiece.
Another great option for families is to experience the long tradition of puppetry in Sicily. The puppet theatre in Siracusa is the most famous of the many puppet theatres on the island. Here, families can enjoy a walk around the puppet theatre museum to learn more about its incredible history as well as enjoying a show – ‘opera dei pupi’. Puppeteers will perform plays that bring the handmade wooden puppets to life.
There are few children who don’t have a fascination with wildlife and there are plenty of opportunities to immerse your family in nature in Sicily. First and foremost, the Bio Parca di Sicilia is an excellent zoo, offering the chance to see a wide variety of animals, reptiles, birds and even dinosaurs! It’s a great day out for those with young children who will also find plenty of space to run around and burn off some energy! Why not take a picnic with you and make a day of it.
Another fun excursion is to pay a visit to the Casa delle Farfalle (butterfly house). Situated in Viagrande, this is a charming place to spend an hour or two enjoying the company of some beautiful butterfly species which will fly around you. Encourage your children to wear bright colours on this trip. The colours will attract the butterflies who tend to land on those wearing the brightest outfits allowing your little ones to get even closer to these winged insects!