Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean, is full of the beauty and history that gives Italy its reputation as a top-tier destination. Separated from the mainland by the narrow Strait of Messina, across which ferries travel regularly, the island boasts a strategic location in the Mediterranean, making it a desirable prize for many a conquering culture—that may help explain Sicily’s dizzying variety of architectural and culinary styles. Food is a serious pastime here, and a food tour (which often also includes wine) of cities such as Taormina, Syracuse, Palermo, or Catania will acquaint you to regional delicacies, as will a cooking class. To make sense of the busy, regional capital of Palermo—which boasts historic churches and the gilded mosaics of Monreale—take a guided walking or bike tour. Taormina, by contrast, has been a popular seaside resort for centuries—there's even an ancient Roman theater overlooking the town center, to which some guided tours provide skip-the-line tickets. Near Taormina, the massive volcano of Mount Etna looms over the landscape and makes the soil perfect for growing wine grapes—see for yourself on a tasting tour. The oldest part of Syracuse is the small island of Ortygia, on Sicily's eastern coast, that's designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the southern part of Sicily, the ancient Greek ruins in the Valley of the Temples near Agrigento are also UNESCO listed. The island is ringed by beaches, making Sicily a beloved summer vacation destination for Italians and visitors alike.