We were talking last time about our trip to Taormina and you probably fall in love with that little coastal town. If I convinced you to visit Sicily, here are some tips about what to do in the Northeast region.
Sicily is has lots of different sights to visit and, even better, you don’t need to spend much time on the road to reach them. Of course you can find more than what I’m gonna mention below, but we only spent one week there. Plus that we also needed some chilling days by the pool, to recharge our batteries and fill our sleep backlog.
This is what we’ve seen when we visited Sicily a few years ago, besides beloved Taormina:
The highest active volcano in Europe, Etna is a must visit if you are in the area. Just a short drive from the coastal resorts and you will get to the Sapienza Refuge. Here you can see lava from the last big eruption, in 2003. From Sapienza, there is just the cable car to go to the mountain, up to 2.500m. Prepare to see a spectacular moon-like landscape, with black rocky soil and no vegetation. Also make sure you dress appropriately for this altitude… I was freezing with just a light hoodie! At this point, special 4×4 vehicles that seem to be coming from a different world take you up to the summit. The guide briefly explains what’s going on in the area, where the last eruption took place and so on. Of course you can take one of the hiking trails, but we preferred the easy way. After the descent, you will definitely need a warm-up, so go get a shot of Fuego dell’Etna, the local red liquor. Just making sure you don’t have to drive for the next few hours!
We just had a short stop here, on our way back from mount Etna, but it’s worth a longer visit. I was surprised there aren’t many facilities for tourists, but this isn’t the bad after-all, you have enough crowds on the coast. Unique natural monument in the European region, the Alcantara Gorges were formed in the prehistoric era, after a massive eruption from Etna. In this area, the lava flow encountered a much colder mass of clay soil and the Alcantara river. It was then eroded in thousands of years, creating this spectacular canyon. When you get here, you can take one of the several hiking trails to admire the spectacular relief and the Mediterranean flora. Or, if you feel adventurous, you can try body rafting on the stormy river. We preferred just to relax a bit on the Gorge Beach and cool off our feet in the icy-cold water, which must be great during the hot Sicilian summers.
I’m sure you all saw The Godfather (if not, make sure you do right away, it’s one of the best movies ever made!). If you are a big fan of the movie or if you just want to be transposed into Don Corelone’s times, Savoca is the place to be. Part of the movie was filmed here, and the little Italian village still keeps the same quiet and authentic charm. We enjoyed walking on the narrow streets, admiring the old houses and romantic little squares. Just about half an hour from the crowded coast, it offers a great escape, the true image of a little Italian village.
Small medieval village with just about one thousand people living here, Castelmola offers not just spectacular views, but also a quiet, relaxing atmosphere. Built on a natural terrace on the top of Mount Tauro, just above Taormina, it is often overlooked by tourists and still keeps an original charm. The name Castelmola comes from the Saracen Castle nearby. The ruins can be visited and offer a great 360 panorama over the Ionian coast and towards Mount Etna. If planning to visit, beware the road is steep, with lots of twists and turns; there is also the option to take a footpath, but you need to be in great shape for that.
This volcanic archipelago located in the Tyrrhenian Sea, north of Sicily, listed as Unesco World Heritage Site in 2000, attracts hundreds of thousands for tourists each year. The tiny islands, inhabited by just a few hundreds of people, are extremely picturesque and very different. You can find here thermal springs, tiny villages, volcanic black beaches, luxury hotels, mud baths or even active volcanos.
It was very difficult to opt for what visit in the Aeolian Archipelago, but in the end we chose a one day trip with stops on two of the islands. First it was Panarea, the smallest and most elegant, with chic villas and luxury hotels. We walked through the narrow streets with white-washed buildings and colourful flowers and cooled of on a picturesque terrace overlooking the sea. Then we continued to Stromboli, one of the three active volcanos in Italy. More than that, Stromboli constantly features minor eruptions. The island with the lava flow, observed from the sea, was one of the most spectacular sight we have ever witnessed.
We plan to visit Sicily again at some point, after we return to Europe, as there are lots of things still to be discovered. Have you been to Sicily? Can you recommend anything else here?
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