Sicily in July

Editorial

Things to do in Sicily in July

Sicily houses a variety of cultural events and local festivals all year round in different locations, due to the island’s complex history. Here are some must-sees when visiting in July.

Visiting a Traditional Greek Theatre in Sicily 

The Greek Theatre Festival – Syracuse (3rd July-21st August)

Set on a stage like no other, under the Sicilian sky with the summer warmth of July is “The Greek Theatre Festival”. Hosted by Syracuse, which was once the ancient capital of Greece known as part of ‘Magna Graecia’ meaning ‘Greater Greece’ and described as “the greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all”. It boasts one of the finest venues for open air theatre in the world where several ancient Greek plays were created, making it the perfect place to revive ancient dramas for the festival.

The theatre was built in the 5th century BC and is located on the south slopes of the

overlooking the modern city of Syracuse. Despite its abandoned state, it is described as one of the most beautiful locations in the world. Beginning its first cycle of classical shows in 1914, it is now known as one of Sicily’s most prestigious cultural events.

On this year’s 56th cycle, the theatre will feature The Libation Bearers, Eumenides by Aeschylus, The Bacchae by Euripdes and The Clouds by Aristophanes. As the sun sets, the curtains will rise to transport its audience back in time with an unforgettable experience.

A Sicilian Cultural and Music Experience 

Le Orestiadi – Gibellina – (9th July) 

The “Orestiadi di Gibellina” was established by The Orestiadi Foundation in 1981. Held in Gibellina, a small city and comune in the Province of Trapani that was destroyed in 1968 by the Belice earthquake. The city has been undergoing a radical art experiment in its rebuilding, with the aim to enhance itself as the center of a Mediterranean cultural vision, a meeting place between cultures.

This inspiring festival features theatre performances, poetry reading, music and visual arts. The visual art exhibition attracts both established and emerging young artists and is held in the ateliers of the Palazzo Baglio. Whereas the theatre and musical performances are held at the Baglio Di Stefano, as well as at the foot of the giant Cretto created by the Italian artist Alberto Burri, covering all of the area of which the old Gibellina was destroyed.

Whilst you’re here, why not visit the Tenute Orestiadi, a stunning winery cultivated in the interior of the Belìce Valley.

A Traditional Sicilian Procession 

Santa Rosalia Procession- The most important annual festival in Palermo (14th-17th July)

Palermo, the capital of Sicily holds an annual festival in celebration of its beloved patron saint, Santa Rosalia. Rosalia is credited for saving the city from the plague in 1624, despite having passed around 500 years prior. The young woman born in 1130, lived a solitary life in a cave on Monte Pellegrino, dying there in 1116, the cave is now a sanctuary devoted to her.

The legend tells that a Palermo soap seller had a dream that Rosalia told him to find her bones in the cave and parade them around the city to save them from the plague. He followed her instructions, finding her remains and returning them to Palermo where a miracle took effect as her bones passed through the streets. Those inflicted by the plague were healed and the city was saved.

As the most important festival of the year in Palermo, it is a must-see if staying nearby in July. A parade led by a giant, elaborate boat shaped chariot travels from the Cathedral to the Foro Italico joined by colourful dancers and a spectacular firework display as the crowd cries “Viva Palermo and Santa Rosalia” meaning ‘long live Palermo and Santa Rosalia”.

A Sicilian Street Food Festival 

Stragusto Street Food Festival – Trapani (22nd-26th July) 

The Sicilian Food Festival Stragusto is a truly tantalizing event where taste, cultures and traditions combine in the picturesque square ““Piazza Merato del Pesce” (fish market) in the old town. Although Sicily is famous for its quality & variety of traditional street food, the event invites you to delight your senses with a variety Mediteranean street food from other areas of Italy and Tunisia, including couscous, kebab and cabucio, washed down with local wine. Although the goal of the festival is to enhance the great heritage offered by street food, Stagusto is also accompanied by music and other events.