Serene Sicily is often thought of as the smaller sister to Italy, but the oft overlooked Mediterranean island is in fact overflowing with culture, history and charm of its own. Check out our highlights below and see if you can be tempted to visit the home of Mount Etna, stunning caves and the world’s greatest view…
A fascinating historical town based on the east coast of the island, quaint Taormina boasts a lazy pace of life from autumn to spring and a buzzing city centre come the popular tourist season. Within the city walls are plenty of unmissable attractions ranging from the spectacular Duomo cathedral to the ancient Greek theatre. Surprisingly well-preserved and superbly situated, the theatre site overlooks the coast and offers views for miles around. With efforts in place to regenerate the ruins, you can even catch a show on occasion and let your imagination run wild with thoughts of ancient actors and times long gone. When the historian in you is satisfied, take a dizzying cable car down to the picturesque coast…
A towering reminder of past eruptions, Mount Etna stands close to the city of Catania. Not only is the volcano extremely impressive to drive by, it provides tours, hiking and walking opportunities too. Those who set off to explore will get to grips with geography and learn plenty about lava tunnels and flow, eruptive fractures and much more from the on-hand tour guides and geologists. Many companies offer helmets and head torches, giving travellers a chance to explore the nooks and crannies of the volcano itself. It might not be your average beach day or shopping excursion, but we think exploring Etna is a pretty fascinating way to spend a day…
Frequently described as the best view in the world, the hectic journey to the mountain village of Castelmola was certainly a worthwhile one. The small civilisation is reachable only by a three-mile winding road set into the hillside, punctuated with blind corners, sharp bends and on-coming traffic. However, once you’ve reached your destination, the views of the coast and sea seem to stretch out for miles until the coast of mainland Italy emerges on the horizon. A further reason to visit Castelmola is the sweet, heady almond wine produced in the town. With the views rolling out around you and a glass of the delicious tipple in hand, you’ll think you’ve travelled right to heaven itself!
While travelling to major tourist sites is a key part of any holiday, experiencing the local cuisine is just as important when seeking out the true flavour of Sicily. With homemade pizzas more often than not enormous and baked in authentic brick ovens in front of you, it would be easy to dine on them alone if the menus weren’t packed with other delicacies such as locally-sourced seafood. We’d recommend tucking into flavoursome swordfish seasoned with fresh Sicilian lemon – a bonus if you’re dining with a sea view! A staple lunch dish also not to be missed was arancini: a hot, battered ball of risotto, cheese and vegetables. Healthy, perhaps not, but tasty? Extremely!
Take a boat trip
The warm Mediterranean Sea and stretching beaches characterise Sicily, so why not get up close and personal with a boat trip? We recommend embarking from the holiday town of Giardini Naxos in the east of the Sicily where the surrounding beaches, caves and snorkelling hotspots are easily accessible by boat, and plenty of locals are keen to take travellers on afternoon trips. Then, after admiring the volcanic rock cliff face and eerie caves, don your snorkelling equipment, jump in the crystal clear waters and surround yourself with colourful fish who’ll show no fear as they swim up and around you.
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