November is one of the wettest times of year (next to December). You can expect a few inches of rain in Sicily this month, with fog rolling in in higher elevations in the interior of the island. Sicily keeps a mostly mild Mediterranean climate, so temperatures along the coast like in Palermo and Cefalù in the north and Trapani on the west range from 55˚F to 66˚F (13-19˚C) and in Catania along the east coast, from 50˚F to 68˚F. While along the coast a dip in the sea is not unheard of as the sea temp averages 69˚F (21˚C).
The hills and mountains in Sicily’s interior are naturally cooler, though it’s more apparent in the evenings with average lows of 48˚F (9˚C) and highs of 64˚F (18˚C) in Ragusa and colder still in Prizzi at a higher elevation (43-54˚F/6-12˚C). With the variable weather, you’ll want to pack warmer layers and a waterproof jacket with your just-in-case swimsuit.
Crowds & Costs
The discounted rates and lack of crowds are good enough reason to travel to Sicily during November. Although you’ll have to take into account the number of hotels and restaurants in resort towns and wineries that are closed, excusing major cities like Palermo, Syracuse, and Messina. What hotels do remain open will be heavily discounted. It’s important to note, too, that ferries to smaller islands off of Sicily, like the Aeolian Islands, will have reduced services.
Be aware too, that culturally Sicilians follow the practice of taking a siesta—a short nap taken in the early afternoon. Local businesses close typically between 1:30-4:00 pm daily, year-round.
Where to Go
Because Sicily has a longer warm-weather season than the rest of Italy, the Italian island is open for complete exploration—it’s even still possible to sunbathe and swim in the sea.
With that said, renting a car is your best option to revise plans quickly when the sunshine turns to rain, and you need to leave the beach behind. The southeast is one great option to immerse yourself in cultural pursuits as well as experience beaches. Start in Catania and drive to the ancient city of Syracuse, stopping to check out the historic ruins and old fishing villages along the way.
Tour the Neapolis Archaeological Park and spend time walking the streets of Ortygia Island, Syracuse’s historic city center. Continue to the elegant baroque cathedral town of Noto, before exploring the nature reserves of Vendicari and Plemmirio for white sand beaches and oceanfront caves and grottos. From there, head to the medieval and baroque towns of Ragusa Ibla, Scicli, and Modica.
If you can afford the time, drive further up the coast to explore important archaeological sites like the stunning well-preserved mosaics in Villa Romano del Casale outside of Piazza Armerina and the nearby ancient Greek ruins of the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento. Read 7 Days in Sicily for alternate self-drive itineraries.
What to Do
If the weather is decent, head to the south coast to brave a swim or lie out on any number of beaches now that the tourists are at their lowest count. And if the rains continue to hold off, touring Sicily’s plethora of important archaeological sites is undoubtedly a must. If you’re in the southwest, you’ll want to visit Selinunte’s archaeological park for impressive ancient Greek ruins, the Temple of Hera being the most famous monument to visit.
Wine lovers will want to book their flights to overlap with November 11, St. Martin’s Day, the time when young wine is mature enough to be drunk, and celebrations abound with wine tastings and seasonal fare. As the island is the Mediterranean’s largest, it’s best to focus on one wine region, like the area around Taormina. If you have a rental, go for a scenic drive through the hills of the Nebrodi mountains to the small village of Castell’Umberto for a unique St. Martin’s Day event. Drink wine in a festive environment and eat locally sourced chestnuts and mushrooms while cheering on barrel-rolling competitors.
And if the weather does turn bad, take advantage of the downtime and enjoy Sicily’s unique culinary tradition—a mix of flavors created from the island’s long history with Greek, Arab, and Norman occupation. Try pasta with sardines, a national sweet and sour dish that combines wild fennel and North African flavors like pine nuts, saffron, and dried fruit or Sicilian black pork for a taste of Sicily’s indigenous black swine. You can even visit farms dedicated to raising mailino nero, where pastures studded with acorns, olives, and carobs make for sausage with sensational flavor. For more culinary experiences, see this article.
For something sweet beyond San Martino cookies, there’s the Chocolate Festival in Modica to consider where the celebrated chocolate is still crafted according to 16th-century recipes. And with the November rains come greener pastures, allowing for grazing sheep to produce the milk necessary to make ricotta, the key ingredient in cannoli and cassata (Sicilian cheesecake).
For more ideas on what to eat and where read this article.
Chocomodica. Taking place at the end of October and leading into November, Modica celebrates 400 years of chocolate making over four days with music, art, cooking workshops, food and wine pairings, and tastings.
All Saints Day. A national religious holiday, the first two days of November sees families visit the graves of their deceased loved ones to pay respects, and pastry shops prepare “bones of the dead” confections and almond paste treats.
Festa di San Martino (St. Martin’s Day). A nationwide event (November 11) celebrating must (young wine) becoming wine. Celebrations take place throughout wine regions and in larger cities, showcasing just matured wine, alongside roasted chestnuts and San Martino cookies.
Traveling to Sicily in November? Check out these great itineraries.
Discover Sicily’s East Coast: Picturesque and Stunning Sicily - 8 Days. Many of Sicily's highlights—volcanoes, ancient ruins, beautiful beaches and great cuisine—are found along the region's east coast. This 8-day tour will guide you through these stunning coastal towns at a comfortable pace and set you up at comfortable boutique hotels each night.
Road Trip Around the Scenic Sicilian Coast - 15 Days. An island as beautiful and historically rich as Sicily deserves to be experienced at a leisurely pace. This 15-day itinerary features beaches and cathedrals, fishing villages and urban markets, a volcano and ancient archeological sites. Take your time as you circumnavigate this stunning region of Italy.