Excursions from Catania to Taormina and surroundings

Excursions from Catania to Taormina and surroundings

Taormina, the Pearl of the Ionian Sea, is a place full of beauty and charm, ideal for an excursion to discover the evidence of Greek civilization and the many monuments and churches that make this city a cradle of culture and art as well as a natural paradise.
Here is an itinerary to discover this little jewel of Sicily:

Taormina is famous all over the world for its beaches, white and stony, surrounded by rich vegetation and with a sea so turquoise to leave you breathless. At least a few hours of your day in this wonderful location should be dedicated to a tour of the most famous and evocative beaches.
The most beautiful beach is certainly Isola Bella, set at the foot of the city, which takes its name from the island of the same name, paradise of the Mediterranean, and is connected to the mainland by a thin strip of beach, often covered by the rhythm of the tides. Its particular shape makes it so known. It is connected to the historical center of the city by a cableway. The island belonged to Lady Florence Trevelyan, Queen Victoria’s cousin, and the Bosurgi family, and was bought in 1990 by the Sicily Region. The other beaches that worth a visit are Mazzarò, characterized by pebbles, also reachable by cable car, and Giardini di Naxos, the largest beach in the area that alternates sand and pebbles, full of locals appreciated for the nightlife immersed in the thick vegetation.


Isola Bella [credits photo MeteoWeb]

Greek Theatre
The Greek Theater is the most famous and important monument of Taormina, and often hosts events and events related to theater and cinema and beyond, as a location of great effect and spectacular with its breathtaking view of the sea. Built in III a.c. from the Greeks in a panoramic position that served as a natural background to dramatic or musical performances, the structure was then used by the Romans for games with gladiators and naval battles. Every year, the theater hosts Taormina Arte, a dance, theater and music festival around which various events revolve. In June it is worth stopping for the Taormina FilmFest, which has been held here for over fifty years and has seen many internationally renowned guests such as Marlon Brando, Sophia Loren and Tom Cruise, as well as famous filmmakers who regularly hold film lessons.


Greek Teather [credits photo WishSicily]

Municipal Villa
The Municipal Villa of Taormina is a vast and verdant park with typical vegetation consisting of palm trees, succulents and an explosion of flowers. It was Lady Florence Trevelyan – the same Scottish noblewoman formerly owner of Isola Bella – who since 1884 made Taormina her residence, after having married the mayor of the city, to take care of the public gardens. Here, he built particular buildings for ornamental purposes, called victorian follies.

Center of the city: Duomo, Piazza IX Aprile and Church of the Varò
The heart of the city is Piazza IX Aprile, characterized by bars and elegant bars where typical Sicilian granita and other local delicacies are served. The square is panoramic and this is the main feature that immediately jumps to the eye: you can enjoy a magnificent view that ranges from Etna, the bay of Naxos and up to the hill that houses the Greek Theater. In the square, there is the Church of the Varò, which dates back to the fifteenth century but has probably a much older origin, restored in the first half of the seventeenth century by the cav. Blasio Corvaja and terminated by his brother Sigismondo. The church houses a crypt typical of the time of the persecution of Christians. Every year from this church the procession of Good Friday starts with the statue of Our Lady of Sorrows among the alleys lit by torches hung on the walls. In the historical center of the city, Palazzo Corvaja, an arab building, and the beautiful pink marble Duomo of Taormina stand out.


Piazza IX April

Around Catania: the Alcantara Gorges and Mount Etna
For those who have even more than one day to spend in the surroundings of Catania, in the Alcantara valley, where the Peloritani mountain range ends, about an hour’s drive from Catania, the Alcantara River Park is located. Near Motta Camastra, one can visit one of the most beautiful natural spectacles in Sicily: the Alcantara Gorges. Gorges up to 25 meters high and 2 to 4-5 meters wide, form a natural canyon with overhanging walls for tens of meters. The visit to the gorge is advisable when the water is low, between May and September; in addition, the waters are almost always cold and the journey is often challenging, but it is definitely worth it.


Alcantara Gorges [photo credits siciland.com]

Another excursion, that is worth doing when you stay in Catania, is to discover the Etna, the highest volcano in Europe (3300 meters) and one of the world’s most active volcanoes. Etna became a Natural Park in the ’80s, thanks also to the wonderful vegetation that surrounds it, a place with multiple environmental and landscape varieties. Hiking, enthusiasts can try their hand at long climbs to the former craters, which are now inactive, while for those who prefer a lighter hike there are walks suitable for everyone. The points of interest that can be visited are, in addition to the central crater, Valley of Bove, on the eastern side, and the Caves of Frost, Lampone, Tri Livelli and Palombe (four of the more than 200 caves, used since ancient times as burial or sacred places) and the Summit Craters and the Silvestri Mountainson the other side.


Etna [photo credits Pietro]

Eating in Catania
If the Etna excursion has made you hungry, here are the Sicilian specialities that are worth tasting at a weekend in Sicily, where the ingredients of the territory are the protagonists of mouth-watering dishes, including fish and shellfish, meat, tomatoes and pistachios grown in the area. Starting with the first courses, you can not miss the normal pasta, served with tomatoes, fried aubergines, salted ricotta and basil, and pasta with sardines, made with the famous blue fish and fennel, with the addition of pistachios . The aubergine parmigiana, made with tomato, parmesan and fried aubergines is also popular.
Afterwards, nothing better than swordfish rolls, thinly sliced swordfish slices filled with capers, olives, breadcrumbs and tomatoes, or one of the many fish and shellfish served freshly caught at the harbor with just a little lemon juice . Among the meats, the most eaten is the rabbit, along with the lamb. But the marvel of Sicilian cuisine manifests itself in desserts: Sicilian cannoli with ricotta and chopped pistachios (strictly from Bronte!) or almonds, granita with chocolate, coffee or almond with cream and brioche with a hat soaked in. , and still Sicilian cassata, almond sweets and many others. Finally, a Sicilian meal must be accompanied by an excellent wine coming directly from the province of Messina, including the Faro and the Caporosso among the reds, the Capobianco among the whites, and the Mamertino as a wine at the end of the meal.

Are you looking for a hotel in Catania? Find out where you can stay.

Are you looking for a hotel in Taormina? Find out where you can stay.