Sicily

Sicily - Katania, Etna, Taormina and much more...

Sicily is Italy in every aspect, meaning a lot of pizza, pasta and Italians, and it is all wrapped in a nice Mediterranean weather.  You may land in Catania or Palermo and plan a trip around the whole island if you got the time or otherwise visit just one side of the island.  We would recommend the east side.

For east Sicily map, press on the below picture:

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Catania

A busy central city, with many tourist attractions.  You would enjoy strolling in the city streets, visiting the main Duemo square, the Belini Theater, the parks, and the shopping street.  A nice bonus of Catania is the colorful fish market.

Villages north of Catania – Aci Castello, Aci Trezza

Driving few minutes out of Catania to the north, you will arrive to a small village called Aci Castello.  It has an enormous castle build on top of a volcanic rock which is looking over the sea and over the city.  You may climb to the castle and tour inside it.  Driving north a few more minutes will get you to Aci Trezza, with its volcanic rocks in the sea.  These villages will make the trip from Catania to taormina a bit longer, but it is surely worth it.

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Taormina

A beautiful touristic lively village, with a magnificent view to the sea shore.  The main street is called Corso Umberto, with many shops, restaurants and coffee places.  There are two main squares – April 9 and Duomo.   Another attraction not to be missed is the ancient Greek theater.  The gardens of  Villa Comunale are uniquely structured and allow a spectacular view to the sea.   A recommended restaurant with a great view and classic atmosphere is the Granduca Restaurant on Corso Umberto st.  It offers various plates of meat and fish, and obviously also pizza…

Taormina is located high above the sea level, so for going down for a swim you would need a car or take the cable lift.

Ten minutes drive above Taormina, there is a smaller village called Castlemola.  In the summer time it is a lively and crowed place to visit, with restaurants, pubs and shops, day and night. Gallo Cedrone is a restaurant you wouldn’t like to miss.  In the winter time however, the place is nearly empty, restaurants and shops are closed, and there isn’t really any reason to visit it.

Taormina is located high above a cliff, with an astonishing view.  Many accommodations provide this view from your room’s window.  One recommended place with high rating is Villa Astoria.  If you like your hotel in the very center, hotel Victoria is located in the best place.  Another recommended place to stay, at a great location, is La Pensione Svizzera.  5 minutes walk to the town center, and 2 minutes walk to the cable car and bus station.  Some of the rooms have this great view, but not all rooms. So make sure to reserve a room with a view.

Shopping

Etnapolis is a huge shopping mall located 15 minutes drive west of Catania. You can find there dozens of known brand shops as well as local Italian brands.  Prices are not cheap, but there are occasional sales with some nice bargains.

Etna, the volcanic mountain of Sicily

This active volcanic mountain is 3300 meters high.  A visit to the top is a unique experience, and you should plan about half a day for it.  After parking the car in the parking lot at 1900 meters, you will need to take a cable car to 2500 meters.  There, a special vehicle would take the tourists to the mountain top.  The price for all this is expensive, but still, you wouldn’t want to miss it.

Sicily with kids

First of all, it is obvious, children love pizza, pasta and ice cream, and Italy is number one here…

A Mediterranean sea, volcanic mountain with cable car and many castles and palaces will satisfy all kids. 

On top of this, there is the water park and amusement park Etnaland.  The Aquapark and the Themepark are two different parks at the same location near Catania, and require separate tickets.  Each park is big enough for a full day.

For those who like adventure parks with ropes and tracks, there are at least dozen in Sicily, and you would surly find one in the area you visit.  One of the biggest adventure parks in Italy is Parco avventura Etna.

Tips & things you need to know

  • Restaurants are open for lunch (12pm-3pm) and for dinner (7pm to 10pm).  At other times, the restaurants are totally closed. It is not Spain and not siesta – it is just closed.  If you missed these lunch hours, you would most probably stay hungry until dinner… 
  • Italian do not leave a tip in the restaurants.  It is not part of their culture.  As for tourists, you may search Google, and see that there are no definite conclusions about it. Bottom line, waiters will most likely appreciate your tip, especially in the touristic areas, but it is not the norm.
  • When you sit at a restaurant table, you will automatically get some bread.  There is also table cloth on the table.  These will cost you something between 1 to 3 Euros per person, depending on the place.  You may view it as a replacement for a tip…
  • Road signs in Sicily are bad.  It’s unclear how tourists got around a decade ago, but today a GPS application is mandatory.
  • Tourist season is between March and October.  If you visit Sicily in winter time, many shops and restaurant will simply be closed all day, and some villages like Castlemola will be totally empty of people.  You can still enjoy a great vacation, but good to know what to expect.
  • In the shower rooms of hotels or B&B, there is a strange rope going out of some wall outlet.  No, it is not meant for handing your wet laundry.  This is an alarm for help in case of an emergency.  It is mandatory by the Italian low.  Hopefully you will not need to use this alarm, because most probably nobody is listening to it…
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