Italy without Sicily leaves no image in the spirit. It is in Sicily that the key to everything is found. The purity of the contours, the softness of everything, the yielding exchange of colors, the harmonious unity of the sky with the sea and the sea with the earth … those who have seen them only once, will possess them for life.
(W. Goethe)

This is how the famous German writer described the island he visited in 1787 during his trip to Italy, a necessary stop on the Grand Tour, which was a requirement for scions of aristocratic families of the time to complete their university education. The places most frequented on the island by young aristocrats were mainly related to the beauties of architecture and classical art (Acireale, Siracusa, Segesta, Selinunte) and also those affected by volcanic phenomena. The ascent to the crater of Etna gave them the feeling of a grandiose and powerful nature with which man must confront himself. Someone dedicated to the exploration of unusual historical and natural sites would find satisfaction in Sicily’s beauty, complexity and richness of history such as found at the Villa dei Mostri in Bagheria, the Macalube Desert in Aragon or the Castello di Sperlinga. So much so that Hessemer wrote, in his Letters from Sicily, a few years after Goethe, that “the island is the dot on the i of Italy, […] the rest of Italy seems to me only a stem placed to support a similar flower.”

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