History of Sicily programs
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.
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:
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!