La Via dei Castelli dell’Etna

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The Via dei Castelli dell'Etna is an itinerary of art, history, beautiful landscapes and traditions.

The stars of the route are the ten castles that embrace Mount Etna, Europe's highest volcano.

From the Ursino Castle in Catania, to those of Motta Sant'Anastasia, Paternò, Adrano, Aci Castello, Calatabiano, Castiglione di Sicilia, Randazzo, Maletto and Bronte; big and little villages with abundant traces of their medieval past.

  1. Castello Ursino – CATANIA

The Ursino Castle was built between 1239 and 1250 by Frederick II of Swabia in a strategic position: a promontory overlooking the sea. The lava flow of 1669 covered the bastions and the bases of the towers, but above all altered the coastline with the consequent loss of the strategic position of the fortress. Today we admire the interesting civic collections, including the archaeological sections and the art gallery, and major exhibitions of contemporary art.

  1. Norman Castle – MOTTA S. ANASTASIA

It was built between 1070 and 1074 on a 65-metre-high rocky promontory, perhaps on the ruins of an Arab tower. It is divided into three floors and today houses a historical and educational museum, with a multimedia room on the ground floor, a weapons room on the first floor and a room dedicated to entertainment on the second floor.

  1. Norman Castle – PATERNÒ

Built in 1072 by the Great Count Roger of Altavilla, it is the largest of the three castles in the Simeto Valley. On the ground floor, there is a chapel with the remains of wall paintings, on the first floor, there is a hall lit by four limestone double-lancet windows and on the second floor, there is the Loggia with two large Federician double-lancet windows.

  1. Norman Castle – ADRANO

It was built in the 11th century on pre-existing Greek and Roman fortifications. About 33 metres high, it is surrounded by ramparts with corner towers. The halls were converted into cells when it was turned into a prison. We visit the archaeological museum, the library and the interesting historical and artistic collections.

  1. Nelson’s Castle – BRONTE

In the 12th century, it was built as a Benedictine abbey. The 1693 earthquake partially destroyed it. After about two centuries, it was donated to the English admiral Horatio Nelson, after whom it was named. We visit the castle with its museum, garden and park, the remains of the old abbey and the church of Santa Maria di Maniace.

  1. Manfredi Castle – MALETTO

Count Manfredi Maletta had it built in 1263 on top of a sandstone ridge. It was no longer a place of residence from the 16th century onwards and was later partially destroyed by an earthquake in 1693, then abandoned. From the top of the Castle, there is an extraordinary panorama of the town, Mount Etna, the Nebrodi mountain range and the entire valley.

  1. Castello Svevo – RANDAZZO

The last of the eight towers of the Randazzo town walls, it was called the Maschio because of its importance in the defence system. The Executioner of Valdemone, in the 13th century, transformed the dungeons into torture chambers for prisoners and those condemned to death. See the valuable Vagliasindi archaeological collection.

  1. Castello di Lauria – CASTIGLIONE DI SICILIA

The main nucleus was built during the Byzantine period. The antiquity of the site is testified by the presence of several round stones, hurled with catapults. In the highest part, there is a room called Solecchia, which is thought to be the mint, where coins were minted. Today, the castle is the seat of the Enoteca Regionale (regional wine cellar), where typical Sicilian wines are displayed.

  1. Arab-Norman Castle – CALATABIANO

The majestic castle stands 220 metres above sea level, between Etna and the Ionian Sea. Recent restoration work has restored the value of this unique place, where it is also possible to attend impressive concerts and theatrical performances. Among the interesting rooms is the Cruyllas Hall, from which you can see a wonderful view of the Alcantara Valley through the two windows. The inclined panoramic lift, which reaches the top of the castle in two and a half minutes, allows visitors to gain a simultaneous overview of Etna, Taormina, the Alcantara Valley and the magnificent sea.

  1. Norman Castle
  2. ACI CASTELLO

The castle, with a quadrangular tower at its centre, stands on a promontory of lava rock, overlooking the sea. The lava from the 1169 eruption united it to the coast. Inside the museum, there are various archaeological finds, especially underwater ones. One of its terraces also houses a botanical garden.

And the journey continues…

Discover Sicily’s wonderful castles through our itineraries!

Castles of Messina from the Tyrrhenian to the Ionian Sea

Castles of the South between Syracuse and Ragusa

Castles of central Sicily

Western castles between Palermo and Trapani

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