Sicily is located in the center of the Mediterranean, of which it is also the largest and most populated region thanks to its 25,832 kilometers. Also known for its peculiar tricuspid shape that earned it the name of Trinacria, or from the 'three promontories'. The extreme proximity to Calabria mitigates its insularity, while a constellation of islands and archipelagos lengthen the perimeter, especially the Aeolian Islands.
The coastal perimeter of the peninsula stretches for more than 1000 kilometers, with an irregular course. Gulfs, promontories, elongated and short coasts create highly suggestive environments. The morphology of the coasts, despite the linearity, has a consistent number of ports, which have favored its development. The southern coast, on the other hand, remained isolated for a long time, lived for a long period in backwardness and poverty until more recent periods. The oldest and most valuable crops, such as citrus gardens, are found on these steep coasts.
The Sicilian hinterland is made up of 61% hills, 25% mountains and only 14% is flat. The structure of its reliefs can be divided into four major conformations:
in the northern area, the extension of the Calabrian Apennines is divided into three sections, namely the Peloritani, the Nebrodi, and the Madonie, with oak, beech and peaks reaching 2000 meters
in the central and southern part of the island, a sulphurous plateau is divided into valleys, rounded hills and shelves with a chalky-sulphurous rocky conformation
near Enna, the highest regional capital in Italy, a second system of limestone reliefs joins: these are the Erei and Iblei mountains, which distinguish the Syracusan area and the lower part of Sicily.
An essential feature of Sicily is volcanism, represented in particular by Etna which, clearly visible even from long distances and perpetually smoking, distinguishes Sicily from other Mediterranean environments. It is about 3350 meters high, does not appear as a uniform volcanic cone, and is made up of a set of craters and cones in continuous transformation.
Stromboli and Vulcano, the other two active volcanoes, do not reach the heights of Etna with their respective heights of 926 and 386 meters, but only because their structure is deeper, rooted almost two kilometers below sea level.
The dominant element of the island is therefore fire, together with the sun, which determines the particular brightness of Sicily and which makes Catania the holder of the European record for "brilliance". Typical of the Sicilian climate is the warm sirocco wind, dry on the west coast and humid on the east coast. This climate has determined the vegetation of the island, consisting of a steppe landscape or dominated by the cereal estates. The Mediterranean scrub, which in the past dominated everywhere, has now practically disappeared, due to the replacement of spontaneous species with imported ones.
The famous economic feature of the island is certainly the cultivation of wheat, Sicily was in fact known in Roman times as "the granary of the Empire" and today, thanks to the water infrastructures aimed at it, specialized intensive cultures have developed in greenhouses, in coastal areas or in inland valleys more sheltered from the winds. The resulting landscape is one of the peculiarities of Sicily. Extensive countryside contrasts with urban agglomerations with different sizes, functions and structures. The urban texture is dense and heterogeneous: a mirror of the alternation and development of the various civilizations that have settled in these lands, leaving a clear imprint of their passage.