Learn about art by walking while admiring nature and the landscapes: you will instantly fall madly in love with Sicily. You can read a whole stack of books about the Baroque period, but they'll never match up to a visit to the Cathedral of Noto. Geology immediately becomes clearer while looking at Etna.
Let's go in order and start by following the echo of the stories from Homer's Odyssey, which lead you to Scylla and Charybdis: the very strong currents and the formation of whirlpools in these waters are also an opportunity to illustrate one of the largest areas of biodiversity in the Mediterranean.
In terms of mythology, it’s a unique experience a visit to the Aeolian Islands, home of the god Aeolus, guardian of the winds. A visit to the Regional Archaeological Museum of Lipari will reveal the cultures and civilizations that have colonised these places. Another great stop is in Vulcano and Stromboli, active volcanoes with spectacular nature.
Let’s go back to the coast and head towards Taormina, with its terrace overlooking the sea: the incredible view of the Ionian sea and Etna’s volcano will take your breath away. The Greek Theatre is the most famous monument: the Greeks chose a scenic promontory as their setting for dramatic and musical performances. From here there is also a magnificent panorama of the Calabrian coast and the Sicilian Ionian coast. After a long stroll shopping in Corso Umberto, rest on the suggestive panoramic terrace. Taormina Arte is an annual event that happens in June.
Let’s move on to Catania, the great cultural city of eastern Sicily. Located at the foot of the Etna volcano, it exudes a very special charm. Castello Ursino, the ancient Norman castle, Piazza Duomo with the Cathedral of Sant’Agata and the black lava elephant, the symbol of the city, and the Roman Theatre and the Odeon, the Roman Amphitheatre, the Vincenzo Bellini Theatre and the lively fish market are just some of the things not to be missed. The historic centre is a UNESCO heritage site.
Drink water and zammu (anise) in the historic kiosks: they are an institution in Catania! In ancient times they were places where you could stop in the shade of trees to savour drinks or simple food to find relief from the scorching summer sun. Today you can enjoy a variety of soft drinks made from fruit syrups mixed with natural sparkling water. The most typical drink enjoyed at the kiosk, then as now, is a particularly thirst-quenching and natural mixture of seltzer, lemon and salt. The mandarin, lemon, barley, mint and other options are also excellent. The syrups used to make them are strictly artisanal.
Now let’s take a tour of Etna, one of the most spectacular active volcanoes in the world.
The ideal option is to reach the Rifugio Sapienza on the south side and continue on from there with the cable car to admire a landscape made up of craters and lava rocks. You will feel like you are on the moon.
After Etna, head towards Syracuse, not without having made the first stop at the Oriented Natural Reserve of Pantalica. Its rocky necropolis is one of the most fascinating protohistoric sites on the island, a clear example of the transition from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age.
You will now arrive in Syracuse, a living relic of the ancient world, one of the largest polis of Magna Graecia. Start from the temple of Apollo and move on to Piazza Duomo, one of the most beautiful squares in Italy, surrounded by numerous Baroque-style palaces and embellished by the presence of the Cathedral, which incorporates the most important Doric temple of the polis dedicated to Athena.
Visit the Church of Lucia alla Badia, which preserves Caravaggio’s “The Burial of Santa Lucia“.
Go down to the Fonte Aretusa and continue your visit to the Archaeological Park of Neapolis, which contains the oldest and most monumental part of the city. Inside, admire the Roman Amphitheatre, the Greek Theatre and the Latomia del Paradiso, an ancient stone quarry with the Ear of Dionysus, a cave with an unusual shape. Try yelling and enjoy the impressive echo!
Let your heart be lightened by the warmth of Baroque Noto, its majestic Cathedral and all its historic centre.
Continue towards Modica: its centre is full of so many architectural beauties that you can just take a walk at a relaxed pace to enjoy them all. From the top of a large staircase, the façade of the Cathedral of San Giorgio stands out as the symbol of the city. Modica is also the birthplace of Salvatore Quasimodo, a poet who won the Nobel Prize for literature: the house where the writer spent part of his life is here, and it has remained intact with memories and photos of him. Don’t leave without tasting the famous chocolate. Take some home: it’s delicious!
Next up is the wonderful Ragusa: it is two cities in one, Ragusa inferiore and Ragusa Ibla, the upper part rebuilt after the earthquake of 1693.
The symbol of the city’s rebirth is the Cathedral of San Giorgio, the sumptuous Baroque façade of which partially survived the earthquake; the church of S. Maria delle Scale is very impressive, with a fourteenth century portal incorporated in the construction of the new baroque church. In this romantic city brimming with history, the food and wine is excellent and the hospitality will pamper you.
The ideal end to this fascinating tour of the island is the Villa Romana del Casale in Piazza Armerina in the province of Enna, a UNESCO heritage site, and the nearby archaeological site of Morgantina: truly unique wonders!