This tour will ideally start from the steps of the Greek theatre of Taormina.

Teatro di Taormina

Teatro di Taormina

After admiring one of the most beautiful landscapes in Sicily, which needless to say, is full of breathtaking views, take a nice tour. It takes half a day at best to go through the narrow streets of this famous city, so take your car, motorbike or bicycle and set off along the Gorges of the river Alcantara.

Gole dell'Alcantara

Gole dell’Alcantara

Do not let yourself be influenced too much by the name. These are actually wonderful narrow and icy gorges and depending on the time of your stay a cool swim could perhaps be an unexpected pleasure. Nevertheless, the gorges are easy to visit and do not represent any  danger even for little ones. In return, it is nice walk through the gorges with wet feet imagining scenes from Excalibur of the south.

The cold waters of the Alcantara descend straight from Mount Etna, but if you do not wish to go back swimming against the tide, I suggest you take your car/motorcycle/bike and head off to the biggest active volcano in Europe.

ph. Ignazio Mannarano

ph. Ignazio Mannarano

There are two access routes to the “summit craters”: Northern side of Mount Etna Linguaglossa and Mount Etna South – Nicolosi. Both towns will welcome you with an increasingly mountainous appearance as you climb by cable car or off-road jeep up to the 3,000 metres of the smouldering summit. You won’t easily forget this experience but bring your coats and jackets, even if you arrive in mid-August.

Now we head down from the top of the volcano straight to the sea, we park, we cross a short bridge and enter the island of Ortigia, the heart of Siracusa.

Duomo Ortigia - ph.Ignazio Mannarano

Duomo Ortigia – ph. Ignazio Mannarano

Right here, we shall only see the sea a bit but this is because we will be dazzled by the monuments, churches, squares and streets of the city of Archimedes. The sea actually is there and how wonderful it is! We’ll get to know the sea better watching it while we are sitting and have a coffee in one of the many bars that overlook it

Let’s continue our tour in the direction of Val di Noto running along the Vendicari Nature Reserve. It would be worth spending a day dedicated to the clear sea or bird-watching in a special hut.

flamingosi in the natural reserve of Vendicari

Flamingos in the natural reserve of  Vendicari

Noto  is just nearby. It will take very little to get there and will be worth it to, once again, be enchanted by a city destroyed by an earthquake at the end of 1600’s and rebuilt in full by the rich bourgeoisie according to the architectural styles of the time: a beautiful place in baroque style that since 2002 is a World Heritage Site (UNESCO).

Noto - ph. Dalibor Kastratovic

Noto – ph. Dalibor Kastratovic

But how can you pass by this neighbourhood and not get taken in by the smell of chocolate? In Modica the chocolate is made with a very old recipe, none other than from the Aztecs. If you are wondering what the Aztecs have to do with Sicily, think about the Spanish conquistadors in South America and you will see that the same Spanish have dominated this island for a couple of centuries. Well, after all that chocolate you’ve tasted in one of the many chocolate shops in the centre, you will get the chance to redeem yourself from the sin of gluttony by visiting the lavish and beautiful cathedral.

Cattedrale di San Giorgio a Modica - imagesef

Cattedrale di San Giorgio a Modica – imagesef

Another treat not to be missed. Ibla, the historic centre of Ragusa. Go for a stroll and browse around the cathedral, alleys, churches, “Circolo di conversazione” palace and the beautiful garden.

cupola di San Giorgio, Ragusa Ibla -ph. M.Flaccavento

cupola di San Giorgio, Ragusa Ibla -ph. M.Flaccavento

Back on the road that will take you to the centre of Sicily, we stop to take a look at the staircase of Caltagirone. A symphony of multicoloured tiles which are an artistic symbol of the town of Sicilian ceramics. But be warned now, you will not leave without a souvenir.

Caltagirone - UNESCO - Sicilia. Ph. Luke Robinson/Flickr

Caltagirone – UNESCO – Sicilia. Ph. Luke Robinson/Flickr

The latest goals of our tour are:

Piazza Armerina – Villa Romana del Casale It certainly doesn’t happen every day that you get to visit a Roman villa of a VIP of the period of the Caesars. A lover of luxury, art and good living for business or pleasure “set up his house” in the centre of Sicily. Definitely a full immersion  in the atmosphere of a very well preserved Roman patrician villa.

Affresco nella Villa romana del Casale

Affresco nella Villa romana del Casale

Not far away, still in the area, you’ll find the archaeological site of Morgantina. The famous statue of its goddess occupies a room of the well-stocked museum which depicts the history of this site from the Bronze Age to the Roman-Republican Age.

Dea di Morgantina - ph. Francesca Sonzogni

Dea di Morgantina – ph. Francesca Sonzogni

Izi Travel guide UNESCO sites in Sicily