Sicily Geography

Home to Europe’s most active volcano, Etna, as well as the UNESCO protected Aeolian Islands, Sicily is a wonderland for volcanologists.

The rugged coastlines of the Cyclops Riviera and Alcantara River’s basalt gorges complement your visit, which wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the picturesque hilltop town of Taormina.

To help highlight where your trip fits into the curriculum we’ve created this easy-to-use checklist.

Tectonic Processes, Landforms & Hazards

Mount Etna experiences regular minor eruptions, offering a plethora of case studies. The fabulous interactive Museo dell’Etna (formerly known as MuLa) is a must-see, as is a guided tour of the nearby lava caves at the foot of Etna.

Weather Processes & Hazards

Sicily enjoys a typical Mediterranean climate, with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. In 1999 a Sicilian weather station recorded a temperature of 48.5oc, the highest ever recorded in Europe. How does Sicily’s position close to Africa impact on local weather? Does Mount Etna influence weather patterns? Why does the north and northeast of the island received more rain than the south?

Climate Change

Sicily is particularly sensitive to global warming – in recent decades desertification has taken hold, leading to an increase in semi-arid areas in an already dry environment. As 75% of Sicily’s water is used on agriculture the impacts of drought and subsequent degradation of soil quality are significant on the agricultural industry.


Visit the Butterfly Farm on the slopes of Mount Etna to learn about the life-cycle and natural environment of this fragile creature. A guided walk along the nature trails of the Bois des Ciclamini or Alcantara Gorge will teach your group about the biodiversity, botany and conservation projects in the local ecosystems.

Coastal Processes, Landforms & Management

Study coastal processes including erosion and coastal management in Taormina, the Aeolian Islands and the Cyclops Riviera in Sicily.

Water & River Processes, Landforms & Management

Take to the Alcantara River to examine evidence of hydraulic action, abrasion, attrition and solution. What factors affect the water level in the Alcantara Gorge? What is the role of the Alcantara river park in the local environment?

Geological Processes & Landforms

Visit the Alcantara Gorge for fascinating rock formations carved into the basaltic gorge walls by the fast-flowing meltwater. The surrounds of Mount Etna and the Aeolian Islands also offer great opportunities to learn about rock types.

Urban Change & Growth

For thousands of years, Sicily has been a cultural crossroads of ancient civilisations due to its prominent position in the Mediterranean. In great variety, these civilisations have heavily influenced the architecture of Sicily which can be seen in the urban areas of the island. Catania and Palermo are major cities with the latter being the regions capital and economic hub.


Although Sicily has a population of 5 million, an imbalance in the distribution exists as the uninhabited inland zone clearly contrasts with the largely populated coastal areas. Due to its rich history, the culture of Sicily is very diverse and unique with locals liking to differentiate themselves from the rest of Italy.

Food Resources

Agriculture has long been an economic pillar in Sicily. Frequent volcanic eruptions have left the soil extremely fertile and large proportions of land on the island are used for farming. The main agricultural products include wheat, olives, almonds, grapes and pistachios. Fishing is also a fundamental resource for Sicily.