Taormina-Etna Guide

Catania top


The City lies on the Ionian coast and has a long history. The Etna, with its repeated eruptions has floaded with lava this site several times in history. After the blow of the catastrophic earthquake of 1693 Catania has been built with its caracteristic baroque architecture. A most pleasant walk is from Piazza Duomo (photo), dominated by the magnificent cathedral and the statue of the Elephant (landmark of this city) to the majestic lava stone made Via Etnea all the way to, the Villa Bellini, the green hearth of the city. This walk has plenty of charm, it reaches its apex in the Collegiata Church. A string of elegant buildings which stretch to an ideal distant horizon represented by the volcano.


The ancient Catania comes occasionally to light with remains of the Roman amphitheater (pictured) in the square Stesicoro, of the Roman baths under the beautiful Cathedral, and also of the Roman theater. But the lava is certainly the most impressive sight along the streets and the coast beautiful the castle Ursino, federician (XIII century) which stands on a promontory surrounded by sea. The eruption of 1669 pushed forward the coast line so that the castle, suddenly found itself inland. The Etna, the giant fire, is in front of the traveler, wherever they happen to be.


The Via Etnea intercepts Via di Sangiuliano, very steep lavic. From here you enter the sumptuous Via Crociferi, a baroque masterpiece, which reaches its climax with the church of San Benedetto. Just beyond the Via Crociferi is the Benedictine monastery of San Nicola l'Arena (pictured), which stands where once was the acropolis. A model eighteenth-century building, is the faculty of Literature and Philosophy.


The two city markets are among the most beautiful of the island: the fair and the fish market (photo). The southern coast of Catania is a sandy beach called Playa, a succession of hotels, beaches and recreational facilities. The white sand is a testimony that the lava never reached this area.

Catania is well known for its gastronomy. Silvana can give you all the information you need. I encourage you to enjoy breakfast, with granita and brioche.

Catania is a city very exciting and with an intense nightlife and shopping areas, making it a target for youth and shoppers from all over the island.


The Etna top


The last book I wrote, and certainly my most exciting, has been The guide to Etna on which I had the cooperation of the most important signatures of Etna's landscape, making this volume a unique and valuable tool for the traveler. I hope you will forgive me this moment of narcissism, and now let’s speak about the Etna!

It 's the highest volcano in Europe (3300 m), a world apart, made of fire, forests, continuous eruptions, homes flooded by lava, lava caves, a multitude of craters scattered around...

Etna, solemn and majestic, attracts continuous pilgrimage of travelers times and of all ages. Practically visible from almost everywhere in Sicily, the Etna is clearly a milestone for those who visit the island.

Etna Etna

The regional park of mount Etna is surrounded, by a series of. Villages entirely built with out of lava, with their fertile soil of lava sand. Just remember the pistachio from Bronte, green gold of Sicily. The lava stone has been used since ancient times, as we can see by the bridge of the Saracens (photo) near Adrano, the three Norman dungeons in Bronte, Paternò and Adrano; the beautiful and medieval Randazzo, entirely built in lava stone and, curiously, never buried by the river of fire; and the touristic Nicolosi, Zafferana and Trecastagni; Sant 'Alfio with its millenary Chestnuts, Milo and Fornazzo and Linguaglossa and Presa di Piedimonte Etneo ... always among hazelnuts infinite walls and ancient lava rock terraces.


The lavic soil of Etna has supported for centuries the production of a typical wine: the Etna Red, a blend of Nerello Cappuccio and Nerello Mascalese.

The photo shows my book: 200 pages of lava and lava stories. It’s with great pleasure that I will answer questions about Etna. Click here.


The Piana di Catania top

Piana di Catania

To the west of Catania lies the largest plain of Sicily that takes its name from the homonymous city. The plain is home to several archaeological sites, as well as excellent citrus groves.

Palikè (photo), is a little rock with a sacred cave and a plateau inhabited since prehistoric times. It is particularly striking, however, very evocative. At its base there were two volcanic lakes, not visible today.

Piana di Catania

Coste di Santa Febbronia: a place particularly fascinating. It 's a ridge characterized by the presence of dwellings carved into the rock (in one of these there’s the following erotic etching, dating back to 2500 years ago, "I subscribed, seller of dried fish, here I sodomized Namilis the beautiful"), a hermitage with Byzantine frescoes, a necropolis with tombs in Gritticella; a plateau where you can still see the holes for the insertion of poles of prehistoric huts, a poignant panorama on the plain of Catania.

The Valley of Mongialino: it is a valley surrounded by wheat, not easily accessible, in which there is a castle with a round tower (picture) and a greek site of the fifth century. B.C. all wrapped up in an absolute silence and in the magnificent colors of the Sicilian countryside. Call me and I'll take you there.


The Riviera dei Ciclopi top

Riviera Ciclopi

The trail going from Catania to Acireale takes this name. It’s a beautiful and elegant coastline which reaches its highest peaks in the two charming fishing villages of Aci Castello (dominated by its castle entirely made in lava-stone overlooking the sea), and Aci Trezza (which hosts in its sea the so-called Island of the Cyclops: 3 Faraglioni rocks in the sea). A real delight not only for swimming but also for seafood lovers.


Acireale top


Beautiful town richly decorated with fine eighteenth-century baroque architecture which finds its peak in the beautiful Cathedral of San Sebastiano (photo). Acireale counts diverse baroque decorations in lava stone: corbels, gargoyles, cherubs, caryatids, telamons, engraved and beautiful richly worked doors.

Piazza Duomo is one of the most beautiful squares in Sicily.

Do not miss a visit to the seaside towns of Acireale: Santamaria La Scala, Santa Tecla, Stazzo and Pozzillo. Acireale occupies the highest ridge of a huge lava rock called Timpa. It falls down the sea and is accessible only through intricate footpaths.


The Ionian Coast from Acireale to Giardini Naxos top

La costa Jonica da Acireale a Giardini Naxos

This coastline is characterized in its first section, from Acireale to Riposto, by a rocky coastline and picturesque villages (all over Torre Archirafi). The next leg up to Giardini Naxos is characterized by the presence of a sandy shoreline. To don’t miss the beautiful naturalistic reserve of the river Fiumefreddo.


Naxos top


It 's the place where, in 734 BC, the Greeks first arrived in Sicily, starting this great adventure. Today you can still see the ruins of Naxos, close to the sea. The town of Giardini Naxos is the queen of the Sicilian summer with its venues and its beautiful sea.


Taormina top


A gem for travelers of all time. For conquerors of all time. Absolute pearl of Sicily, Taormina is a small Palermo (having monuments from any civilization) beautiful in every corner. It is for many tourists the most beautiful place in Sicily (Palermo being the most relevant historically). In Taormina everything is perfect, everything is beautiful. The proverbial shining colors of Sicily are brighten when seen from here; Etna could not have a more exciting Panorama, the sea is deep blue. It sounds like a joke but visit it and then tell me ...

Taormina is a city with a typical medieval plant, and two doors: the door to the north is named Porta Messina and the one to the South, Porta Catania; the main street is Corso Umberto (photo). Taormina comprises a 'sequence of intricate alleyways, courtyards and narrow passages, sudden splendid panoramas. A mixture of limestone, lava stone and sand stone features in its architecture, often of Arabic influence. Luxury hotels and shops alternate with fascinating pastry shops and restaurants. A temple of luxury and beauty.


The Greek Theatre, Hellenistic, home to several summer productions, has perfect acoustics and the sea and Mount Etna as a backdrop to the scene. A delirium.

Among the buildings we have to remember: Palazzo Corvaia whose tower is of Arab time (XI century); and the palace of the Dukes of Santo Stefano, ‘300.

Monte Tauro, the highest mountain in Taormina, hosts the ruins of the medieval castle, as well as a view among the most beautiful in the world.


The hinterland of Taormina top

L'entroterra taorminese

Castelmola: off Taormina along a bendy road, suspended in a fairytale landscape, you get to Castelmola, another medieval stone town, dominated by the ruins of a castle. Castelmola is near Mount Venere (also accessible through a path that starts in Taormina), whose summit, the natural stair of Taormina (Monte Tauro, greek theater, naxos) appears in all its glory. Near the mountain, is the grave of a descendant of the English crown: Lady Trevellian (photo). Explaining where it is, it’s a difficoult task. If necessary, contact me.

L'entroterra taorminese

Alcantara gorges: in the hinterland flowing from Taormina to Francavilla di Sicilia, the Alcantara River, over the millennia dug a deep gorge, its water, even in summer, is freezing cold.

Convento dei Cappuccini of Francavilla di Sicilia: built in 1585 can be visited in its entirety giving a glimpse of authentic monastic life of the past.

L'entroterra taorminese

Castiglione di Sicilia and the Byzantine Cuba: Castiglione di Sicilia is a village perched on a cliff. It’s a perfect example of medieval Sicily. Its upper part, the historical, almost uninhabited, is a quiet and mysterious network of alleys with beautiful churches that suddenly appear around the corner. The vines in the valley of Castiglione hidden jewel of the Byzantine art: the Cuba of Santa Domenica (sixth century), lava stone sanctuary with a Greek cross plant, almost magic in the countryside. So mysterious and hidden until a few decades ago it was used by a shepherd!


Savoca and Forza d’Agrò top

Savoca e Forza d'Agrò

Both are small gems of this part of Sicily. Both strongly medieval, present buildings of excellent historical and architectural value. In Savoca stands the fifteenth-century church. In Forza d'Agrò is worth mentioning the castle (photo), whose boundary wall has now become a fascinating cemetery and the village below which today is almost entirely abandoned, creating, especially at night, a ghosty atmosphere.


Churches of Ss Pietro and Paolo top

Chiesa dei Ss Pietro e Paolo

It is one of the finest examples of religious Norman art (XII century). Impressive: in the torrent of Agrò 3 km from Casalvecchio Siculo.


The Ionic coastline from Naxos to Sant’Alessio top

La riviera Jonica da Naxos a Sant'Alessio

Charming sandy coast, among the most popular with tourists visiting the island. With restaurants and other facilities.

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