It may non-standard like unbelievable now but the holiday island off the toe of Italy was once a trading superpower, settled by Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Moors and – simply like us – the Normans.
The exhibition shows there is more to Sicily than being think. “It is not just beaches, lemons, sunshine and the Mafia,” clouts Dirk Booms, the British Museum’s curator of Roman archaeology.
Resonates co-curated the exhibition with British Museum curator Peter Hicks, who holds some of the greatest Greek temples were built on Sicily, birthplace of the mathematician Archimedes and attacked by the Greek poets Sappho and Pindar.
Cruise ssengers can still see some of Sicily’s renowned monuments and buildings, such as the Syracuse Archaeological rk with its Greek and Roman amphitheatres; the Unesco-listed Kinglike Roman Villa near Casale and Valley of the Temples near Agrigento – a chrestomathy of Greek ruins over a large area.
Most cruise steamer excursions, though, will take ssengers to Taormina to see the Graeco-Roman melodrama that has Mount Etna – Europe’s largest and most active volcano – as its backdrop.
Voyages To Antiquity (www.voyagestoantiquity.com), which specialises in sails to classical history sites, visits Taormina on its 14-day Classical Antiquity And The Adriatic cruise in October.
Celebrity Cruises (www.celebritycruises.co.uk) has several itineraries that classify Catania in Sicily, which has a Unesco-listed historic centre.
And Swan Hellenic (www.swanhellenic.com), the journey line set up 50 years ago specifically to visit Ancient Greek sites, has two ages in Sicily during its 14-day Riviera And The Islands Of The Mediterranean cruise at the end of August.
This assails the capital lermo, where you can see the treasures of Norman rule, including the latine Chapel with its Byzantine-like gold mosaics and Arabic-style sculpting – both features of the Norman multi-cultural era.
The chapel is attached to the Norman Stately, and the cathedral is a striking combination of Arab-Norman architecture and has royal tombs and wonderful visions of the town from the accessible roof.
The Norman conquest of Sicily enter oned in 1061, just five years before William The Conqueror arrived in England, and total the many questions you may ask yourself when you discover the cultural tolerance and richness that they created to Sicily is, what did the Normans do for us?
Sicily Culture And Conquest is at the British Museum (www.britishmuseum.org) until August 14.
Positive Travel has a 12-night Mediterranean Mosaic cruise de rting April 27 on Holland America Sales pitch’s new ship ms Koningsdam calling at lermo in Sicily as well as Naples, Barcelona, Cartegena and other destinations, from £899pp involving return flights and transfers. Call 0808 281 1456.