The soccer ball at the end of leg-and-foot-shaped Italy, Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean and has a history going back more than 10,000 years. Dominated in its east by volcano Mount Etna, Sicily has very warm temperatures in summer, including the highest ever recorded in Europe–119°F–which is why many Sicily event venues are more vibrant at night. Its capital is Palermo, but Sicily has other famous cities–Syracuse, Messina, and Catania–to name three. Many Roman ruins remain.
Sicily has two main airports, the largest being Catania-Fontanarossa (CTA), the other being Falcone–Borsellino (PMO). The former is three miles southwest of Catania, the latter is 22 miles northwest of Palermo, and both have service all over Italy and the rest of Europe but not to North America. Rome and Milan are the best connection airports.
The largest of Sicily event venues is in Palermo, the Fiera de Mediterraneo, which has a conference center and approximately 830,000 square feet of space divided into 19 pavilions.
Hotel venues in Sicily include the 680-room Poggio del Sole Resort, in the popular sun-seeker destination of Ragusa, which has one meeting room for up to 180 persons. Historical but also ultra-modern, Palermo's 127-room Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa has a 25,000-square-foot cloister for outdoor events, as well as four meeting rooms; the 119-room Excelsior Palace Hotel Palermo has the Sala Manfredi and Sala Federico meeting rooms, for 70 and 50 persons, respectively, decked in Art Nouveau style; the 88-room Grand Hotel Mazzaro Sea Palace (on a beautiful bay in Taormina) has one meeting room for up to 145 persons; and the 48-room Aga Hotel, which is in Catania, has six high-tech meeting rooms, including the Sahib Room for 215 persons.
This varied, historical island has some wonderfully unique gathering spots for private events. Selections include the dramatic, wooded-cliffside Castello di Falconara, a castle south of Butera with nine guest rooms and memorable outdoor and indoor spaces for fairytale events. Others include the ancient building, Solacium della Targia, close to Megara Hyblaea (one of Sicily's original Greek settlements) and Syracuse, which has a large garden, arched conference rooms and impressive banquet space; Sirignano Wine Resort, home for centuries to the families and vines of the marquises of Gregorio, and which has 10 guest rooms and tasting rooms, cellars and banquet halls, as well as lawns and gardens; botanical garden with stately villa Radicepura, which is in Giarre north of Catania, and which has four spaces for events, The Noble Palace, Glasshouse, The Stables and The Wine Press; and Villa Barresa, which is inland between Catania and Syracuse, was built in 1800, is a step back from the bustle of Sicily's cities, and has event space both indoors and out.
One of Sicily's nicknames is God's Kitchen. With that in mind, excellent choices in which to eat include Ristorante Lo Scudiero in Palermo, which has tasteful confines, fine dining, and an extensive wine list; fellow Palermo offering Le Delizie di Cagliostro, which also contains a lot of art; Mastri Flavetta, which is inside the Castello San Marco north of Catania and which often espies a steaming Mount Etna; Ristorante Porta Marino da Salvo, which is in an 11th-century building, on the island of Ortigia in Syracuse and has an arched dining room and an inventive, regional menu; and extremely creative La Madia, which is in the southern city of Agrigento and uses only very local ingredients.