History of Sicily course

We present the History of Sicily course that can be combined with an Italian course at our Babilonia Italian Language School

Since 1992, we have passionately dedicated ourselves to promoting our Sicilian heritage and culture along with the study of the Italian language. We strive to offer opportunities for learners of Italian language to also become learners of the Italian culture and Italian life.

A language is not the result of a set of grammar rules. A language is the result of a culture and its traditions, its history, its lifestyle and its places. If you want a fuller cultural experience in Sicily, and be a traveller, not just a tourist, you can combine an Italian language course in group or Italian private lessons with:


From the prehistory to the present days passing through the Greeks, the Phoenicians, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Arabs, the Normans, the Spaniards, the unification of the kingdom of Italy, Fascism and World War II, up to contemporary Sicily.

2 week course (20 hours)
Monday to Friday (2 hours per day)
starting dates according to our Course Schedule

€ 950


Welcome pack
Entry test
Social and cultural activities program
Teaching materials
Internet access and WI-FI

Hour lesson: 55 minutes

Lessons: from monday to friday


Introduction to the History of Sicily

For more than 2500 years, Sicily has shared its spirit with travellers from many lands. Situated in the center of the Mediterranean, Sicily has served as a meeting place for three continents, each of which has contributed to Sicily’s unique history and culture. There are few other places which have been impacted by as great a number of civilizations: the Sicani, the Sicilian, the Greeks, the Carthaginians, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Arabs, the Normans, the Spaniards – all influenced the vibrant Sicilian culture. Our study abroad programs reflect Sicily’s magnificently rich 2500 years of art and culture.

Every major European royal dynasty that wanted to have power in Europe and over the Mediterranean Sea “had” to own Sicily. And during the the last almost 3.000 years of history, every major Mediterranean power has left its mark on Sicily! Important artistic, architectural, and cultural remains are visible in virtually every town of this island in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea and at virtually every corner. Take a virtual tour of Sicily and learn more about the history, the art and the culture of Sicily.

With the different dominations that conquered Sicily during its history, many important monuments and buildings were built by Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Arabs, the Swabians, the Normans, the Spanish, the French, and the whole European aristocracy have left their “footprints”, enriching Taormina with a huge heritage of buildings, monuments, churches, villas, parks and castles.

As Wolfgang J. Goethe wrote in 1786: Without Sicily, Italy cannot be fully understood. It is here one finds the key to all things.

A quick look into the history of Sicily will help us understand why. Syracuse ruled over the Mediterranean Sea and over Italy up to Tuscany and Marche, influencing first the Etruscans and then the Roman culture. It was so powerful in the Mediterranean Sea that Athens was obliged to defend its supremacy in the Greek world in many different wars. Many of the legends described in Homer’s Odyssey take place in Sicily, between the Aeolian Islands and the volcano, Mount Etna. Agrigento, with its magnificent temples, was described by Pyndar as “The most beautiful town for mortals”. Catania gave birth to Caronda, the first man to recognize the importance of having law in a written form to guarantee democracy. And in Palermo, where the Arabs left exquisite traces of their vast knowledge in science and architecture, the Arab culture mixed with the German culture of the court of Frederick II of Swabia leaving elegant palaces, churches and chapels with breathtaking mosaics and columns, and a significant body of literature both from the Arab poets and the Norman poets.

But our History of Sicily course will not just focus on the magnificent and shining moments. We will also explore the obscure periods of this island. The history course will present the Sicily and feudalism 17th and 18th centuries, the social condition of the people at that time, the control over the land of the “bravi” and “campieri” (the first nucleus of Mafia), the absence of a State system and the importance of the family structure to secure a sort of welfare system, the degeneration into mafia, the immigration at the end of 19th century, the Fascist regime, the causes that brought to a turning point the Old Mafia and the Modern Mafia, the Anti Mafia movements and contemporary Sicily.

More about History of Sicily programs

The history of Sicily is a captivating journey through time, marked by a rich tapestry of cultures, civilizations, and conquests. Situated at the crossroads of the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily has been a coveted jewel sought after by various ancient civilizations and empires.

The story of Sicily begins in antiquity, with evidence of human settlement dating back to the Neolithic period. Its strategic location made it a hub for trade, and it was successively inhabited and ruled by the Phoenicians, Greeks, and Carthaginians.

One of the most defining periods in Sicilian history was its Greek colonization around the 8th century BC. The island thrived as a center of Greek culture, producing renowned philosophers like Empedocles and mathematicians like Archimedes. During this time, the city of Syracuse became one of the most powerful and influential Greek cities in the Western Mediterranean.

In 241 BC, following the First Punic War, Sicily came under Roman control. It remained a vital agricultural and economic asset for the Roman Republic and Empire. Over time, Christianity spread across the island, and Sicily became a significant Christian center.

During the Middle Ages, Sicily experienced the rule of various Germanic tribes, including the Ostrogoths and the Vandals, before becoming part of the Byzantine Empire. In the 9th century, Arab forces conquered the island, leading to a period of Arab rule that greatly influenced Sicilian culture, agriculture, and architecture. This influence is still evident today in the island’s culinary traditions, art, and architecture.

The Normans, under Roger I of Sicily, seized control of the island in the 11th century, establishing a Norman-Sicilian kingdom that embraced elements of Arab, Byzantine, and Latin cultures. Under Norman rule, Sicily prospered as a melting pot of cultures.

Subsequent centuries saw the island ruled by various European powers, including the Hohenstaufen dynasty, the Angevins, and the Aragonese. The War of the Sicilian Vespers in the 13th century marked a turning point in the island’s history, leading to a period of Aragonese-Spanish dominance.

In the 18th century, Sicily became part of the Bourbon Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The 19th century witnessed the Risorgimento, a movement for Italian unification, which eventually led to Sicily becoming part of the newly formed Kingdom of Italy in 1860.

The 20th century brought significant changes, including the devastating impact of World War II and the subsequent economic and social transformation of the island. Today, Sicily stands as an autonomous region within the Republic of Italy, known for its stunning landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and a blend of traditions influenced by its complex history.

Why study the history of Sicily in the Babilonia Italian Language School?

Taormina is perfectly situated to offer Italian language students easy access to the beautiful and historically important treasures of Sicily: the right place for combining study and holidays.

We wish to welcome you soon in Taormina, Sicily and give you the opportunity to discover our island so full of history, so full of culture, so full of inspiration!

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