What it comes down to is that Sicily is not The Godfather. It's not dust and doom and gloom. It's not (all) crime and grime. Especially outside of Palermo, it's fairly safe.
Sicily will surprise you, if you let it.
Sicily's geography is also unexpected. The rocky, dusty south - where it seems nothing could ever grow - is covered with olive and lemon groves that abruptly tumble into sandy beaches and sleepy towns. Moving north towards Agrigento vineyards fight for space alongside the fertile fields that yield - I contend - some of the most delicious produce in the world. Around the agricultural areas of Modica, Noto, Menfi, and Avola the hills here are green and gently roll along, as you might expect them to in England, not here in the heart of the Med. Moving ever further north the hills become rougher and gradually climb into dramatic mountains that are blanketed in lush tree cover. They nearly put Greece to shame. It's a striking landscape, dominated by the famous symbol of its seismic activity, Mount Etna (which never seems to stop spewing a fine plume of smoke).
More than anywhere else I have ever visited - Greece, mainland Italy, Spain - it is in Sicily that I find myself continuously blurting out "this is so pretty". It is in Sicily that I am content to spend my days simply drinking it all in. It is in Sicily that I am constantly surprised by how far my expectations are exceeded.