Taormina: What to see in the city

What to see in Taormina

Dove si trova Taormina

Being one of the most known tourist destinations in whole Sicily, Taormina still represents one of the poshest places in the region.

Located in an ideal cape, where people can admire both the gorgeous panoramas and the landscape from Calabria to the Mount Etna – the tallest active volcano in Europe.

The streets, the medieval buildings, the archeological sites and the essential charm are a natural attraction for tourists from all over the world. The close beaches are as well a wonderful natural scenario. Moreover in the last few years Taormina has acquired an outstanding position as a location for national and international cultural events.

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The Taormina Archeological Museum

The Taormina Archeological Museum is located in the badia vecchia an ancient XIII century Gothic building. This Museum hosts many ancient finds which emerged belonging to different digs: three different halls are destined for the pottery, urns, sculptures and a marble sarcophagus representing Psyche. All finds date back to the Greek-Roman age.

Historical Background of Taormina

The foundation of ‘Taumerion’ occurred in 358 B.C. thanks to some Greek colonists arrived from the close city of Naxos. The dominating position of the Sicilian East-Coast involved a wide range of interests from foreign populations. After the Greek colonization, the Romans took the control, leaving some of the most beautiful art pieces of the ancient Sicily.

During the Roman colonization – which started in 212 B.C. – the city experienced different periods: during the first one, it enjoyed many privileges whilst the Roman patricians let their villas be built. Nonetheless, after a while the Roman invasion became really oppressive exerting some of the cruelest repression acts against the population.

The Arab invasion took place in 902 and had tragic consequences: after a several years state of siege, the conquerors had no mercy, killing people and destroying the largest part of the buildings. 1078 the Norman troops conquered ‘Almoezia’ – that’s the Arabic for Taormina – being able to push back the Muslim Sicilian occupation in just a few years.

Thanks to the Norman invasion a brand new magnificent era took place in Taormina, characterized by the idea of the ‘borgo’, i.e. an internal smaller settlement.

During the Aragon and Angevin period Taormina’s destiny was strictly related to that of Sicily: people had to pay high taxes, suffering a low birth rate and a reduction of the welfare. During the war against the Bourbons, Taormina’s population had an important role, standing out because of its braveness and patriotism. After Italy’s Unification, Taormina improved its fame in the whole Mediterranean Sea and its beauties became well-known even abroad.

Today Taormina is still one of the most demanded and, a without fail, most important Mediterranean destination for the tourists in Sicily.

Taormina by Night

Taormina’s fresh nights are all dedicated to the fun and the culture. In the city centre you can find plenty of pubs, posh and really sophisticated, where you can have a cocktail, or maybe dance or meet new people. Above all, it is possible to become acquainted with foreigners, who are definitively not a minority in Taormina.

If you enjoy discos, well Taormina has everything you need: nightclubs are really elegant with a unique atmosphere and music all night long. If you come with your family you would definitely appreciate the walking down Corso Umberto I and the close medieval streets, tasting in the meanwhile a slice of pizza in a restaurant or an ice-cream in one of the awesome city bars.

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The Beaches and what to see in Giardini Naxos

What to see in Giardini Naxos

Dove si trova Giardini Naxos

The lively seaside resort at the foot of Taormina, Giardini Naxos is one of the most popular sites among young people; not only for its long beaches, which are well equipped, but for its nightlife.

The clubs, bars, and seashore, the many businesses that ensure every type of accommodation, as well as the archaeological sites of the first Greek settlements and also the close proximity to many other beautiful beaches and coves on the east coast of Sicily, are only a few of the reasons why Giardini Naxos is so desirable.

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The Archaeological Park

The remains of ancient Naxos are located on Cape Schisò: excavations have brought to light much interesting information about the fifth century BC city.  Its urban layout was very regimented, straight lines and traverses intersecting each other, forming small blocks where the houses of the settlers stood.

Part of the original walls of the Naxos town has been uncovered with large lava blocks running a length of 600 meters.  There is also an area where an important sanctuary was found, probably dedicated to Aphrodite, in which there was discovered the foundation of an even earlier construction.

Due to the furnaces utilized for the production of ceramics, Giardini Naxos was apparently a small center of skilled artisans. 

Giardini Naxos doveva essere un piccolo centro di abili artigiani, visto le fornaci utilizzate per la realizzazione delle ceramiche.

The Archaeological Museum

The Archaeological Museum of Giardini Naxos shows the remains of important interests found during excavations since 1979.  The first floor is devoted mainly to prehistoric remains: a lot of pottery and vessels, which run across the stages of settlement of Giardini Naxos, from the fourth millennium BC to the Bronze Age.

On the first floor instead, are preserved fragments relative to the center of Naxos, from the coming of the Greeks to the Byzantine era.  Here too the material, which is most abundant, without doubt, are ceramics, plain or decorated in different styles, as well as different funerary objects from the fifth century BC derived from places near Naxos.

Few remnants or workings of ceramics from the Roman and Byzantine periods are exhibited.

Lastly, it should be emphasized, that finds of different ages still exist under the grounds of Giardini Naxos.

The sea of Giardini Naxos

The fine sandy beach of Giardini Naxos practically covers the long bay, with Hill Tauro behind it, from which Taormina seems to observe the coast.  The water is usually very clean, although the sandy bottom does not grant great diving spectacles.

The beach is well equipped and alternates its diverse stretches of public beaches with private clubs.  At night, the twinkling lights of the bay reflect on the water, giving the scenic bay an almost magical look.

Historical Background of Giardini Naxos

In the eighth century BC, it was right in Giardini Naxos that the early Greeks landed to begin the colonization of Sicily.  To pay homage to the gods, who favored their expansion initiative, there was built the great Altar of Apollo, patron deity of the Greek colonies in Sicily.  The city maintained a more charismatic role than economic, to the point of being considered sacred by those very same Greeks.

It was at the hands of Syracuse that Giardini Naxos was defeated in the fifth century BC., and from that time, it remained a small center, mostly forgotten by the rest of the historical events that occurred in Sicily.

Giardini Naxos by Night

If you are looking for nightlife during the summer, it would be difficult to find any better than Giardini Naxos.  The seaside promenade is a place where young people and families are accustomed to enjoy the coolness of the sea while indulging with an ice cream or a drink during evening walks.  In the later hours of the night, there is certainly no shortage of bars and clubs to go dancing and then watch the sunrise over the bay.

Due to its touristic calling, Giardini and its vicinity have no scarcity of restaurants and pizzerias where you can taste the typical dishes of the area.

To avoid being stuck in traffic, or spend too much time looking for parking, we recommend, especially during the peak of summer, to move about on two wheels.

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The Castle of Sperlinga and what to see

Dove si trova Sperlinga

Sperlinga is a pretty little town in the Sicilian hinterland.

Located between the Park of the  Nebrodi and the Park of the Madonie, about 50 km from Enna, Sperlinga is one of the places in Sicily that deserve much attention from visitors: an ancient village of medieval origin it is characterized by its castle, entirely excavated in the rock, as well as some civil construction.

The town’s name, derived from the Greek Cavern (cave), is due to the attitude of the local population that worked their residences directly into the bare stone.

The Castle of Sperlinga

The real attraction of Sperlinga is its rock castle. Built in ancient times by indigenous peoples, it is one of the most exciting rock-cut architectures in the national and international level.

A once impregnable fortress with a drawbridge, it retains all its charm: you can still visit the stables, prisons, and those areas devoted to the many blacksmiths, as well as a number of places of worship.

The top of the castle is reached through a narrow but impressive staircase consisting of 80 steps, which is also carved into the rock. Placed in the walkway are military weapons used to repel the assaults on the castle (as well as the tanks used to channel rainwater). From here you can enjoy an extraordinary view of the greenery of this part of Sicily.

The Caves of Sperlinga

The caves of Sperlinga or rock Borgo are areas of the city characterized by numerous cave dwellings, probably dating back to prehistoric times. Inhabited until the early sixties, today they are partly to visit and used by small local museums, in which are exposed farm tools.

Via Valle is another very suggestive part of the countryside, where the buildings of recent construction are mixed with caves forming a wonderfully unusual site.

Historical Background of Sperlinga

The small village of Sperlinga has little information regarding its foundation and its ancient period. In medieval times, its mighty castle was exploited by the Normans as a fortress, as well as its strategic roads, whose routes linked central Sicily to the Tyrrhenian Sea.

During the Revolt of the Vespers of 1282, the city became crucial to the fate of Sicily: the French Angevin dynasty in fact, managed to find shelter from the riots of the Sicilian population only in the fortress of Sperlinga.

It was the army of Peter of Aragon, the following year that stormed the castle rock. In the following centuries, Sperlinga linked its name to the powerful family of Ventimiglia, who sold the estate and the Castle, in 1597, to John Strong Natoli, first prince of Sperlinga.

Villa del Casale in Piazza Armerina and what to see

The Villa del Casale in Piazza Armerina

dove si trova Piazza Armerina

In the central-eastern part of Sicily, surrounded by the green hills of the hinterland, lies the cozy town of Piazza Armerina. The town became famous in Italy and abroad, for the Villa del Casale, a perfectly preserved charming house from the Roman era, in which the ancient mosaics still shine.

For those who are going to visit the Villa, located a little ways out from the city center, it could be interesting to spend a half a day exploring Piazza Armerina.

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A UNESCO World Heritage since 1997, and Regional Archaeological Museum since 1999, the Villa Romana del Casale is one of the biggest reasons for tourists’ interest in Sicily: the beauty of the colorful mosaics and harmony of the structure, and its surroundings, attract hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. After six years of restoration, at a total cost of 18 million Euros, the villa was reopened in its entire splendor in July 2012.

The Villa of  Casale, only 5 km away from Piazza Armerina, is a complex structure that extends for 4,000 square feet, built during the Roman Imperial period (III-IV century AD). For the size of the building and the beauty of the decorations, the building was supposed to belong to some illustrious personage of the time, probably Maximian, co-emperor Diocletian set in a secluded position with respect to the centers of the time, the mansion was the summer residence from which they organized many hunting trips. But not solely for that, assuming from the presence of its many rooms, it was also used to carry out administrative functions and representation.

Its excellent state of preservation is probably due to a landslide that covered the Villa, protecting it for over 700 years. Its discovery, in the 1950’s, remains among the most important archaeological finds in Europe.

The structure of the complex can appear difficult to interpret. However, it is possible to distinguish the Villa in four different environments:

What to see in Piazza Armerina

The Cathedral

The Cathedral is located in a wide and homonymous square, reachable from Via Floresta.

The construction was undertaken on a pre-existing structure in the early years of the seventeenth century and completed one hundred years later. Its measurements are remarkable: 70 meters long, the building is dominated by the majestic dome, which rises up to 76 meters in height.

The bell tower, soaring to 44 meters, is the original of the previous building dating back to 1420. The style of the building is Gothic-Catalan, although there are references to the Baroque.

The interior has a single aisle: of particular relevance is its marble arch (dating back to the previous construction), a wooden temple on the left side of the structure, two silver reliquaries and an altar stone, marble and lapis lazuli, of which the tradition has it that it was donated by Pope Nicholas II to King Roger in recognition for having expelled the Arabs from Sicily.

The Church of St. Andrew

The Church of St. Andrew, located outside of town, is the oldest Christian building in the city. Built between the late eleventh and early twelfth century, it was donated to the Order of the Holy Sepulcher in 1148. It has a solemn appearance, with a compact, simple, and typical architecture style of the Middle Ages.

Inside it has been resurfaced, and thanks to the restoration of the second half of the twentieth century, it shows its richly colored frescoes, dating from the twelfth or thirteenth century. Examples of Benedictine painting depicting a series of events of Christ, the saints and the Virgin Mary.

The Church of St. John the Evangelist

The Church of St. John the Evangelist is located in the north of Largo S. John. Built as structure attached to the Benedictine Monastery in the fourteenth century, it was heavily restored in the eighteenth century, appearing today in the Baroque style. The interior is tastefully decorated with frescoes by a Dutch school: in the time from the virtues of Mary the Immaculate, on the right and left respectively are the Epiphany and the Adoration of the shepherds.

The Aragonese Castle

The Aragonese Castle of Piazza Armerina was built by King Martin I in the fourteenth century. It had to play an important defensive role, even if it was actually used often as a residence.

In the following centuries, its rooms were used as a garrison, which is why its internal structure was completely changed. Today the building appears quite stout, though at the time the ramparts and corner towers, along with the missing part of the complex, formed a towering structure. Purchased from a private individual, it is still for sale and closed to visitors.

Historical Background of Piazza Armerina

The fertile area where Piazza Armerina stands today, hosted permanent settlements from the eighth century BC. However, we have little information about the period preceding the destruction of the city, operated by William I King of Sicily in 1161.

Rebuilt on a different site by William II, Piazza Armerina saw an increase in its prestige during the medieval period, thanks to the strategic position of its location and the fertility of its soil, which offered security and prosperity for its inhabitants.

As confirmation, the city was chosen as the venue of a meeting of the Parliament in the last years of the thirteenth century. In the following centuries, Piazza Armerina had a reduction of its influence on neighboring centers, remaining, however, an important administrative center.

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What to see in Sciacca

What to see in Sciacca

Dove si trova Sciacca

Lively seaside town in the Southwest of the Island, Sciacca has developed in the last years a strong tourist vocation. Famous since the past for its thermal baths, Sciacca is still conserving interesting historic points inside the inner city.

Important center for the ceramic manufacturing, sought-after holiday resort especially by young people and famous for organizing one of the most beautiful Sicilian Carnival, Sciacca has by now grown as a significant resort from a tourist point of view on the southern cost of Sicily.

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The Thermal Baths in Sciacca

The use of the thermal water of Sciacca for therapeutic purpose goes back to the Greek age, making this spa the oldest ever. The healthy features of water and muds were used till the Arabic age. However, in the following centuries the practice of the thermal baths lost importance progressively.

Between the eighteenth and the nineteenth century, the first medical surveys about the thermal water vouched for its healthy features, giving a new start to the economy of the spa.

Nowadays Sciacca represents one of the greatest thermal baths of Sicily thanks to two facilities: Stabilimento delle nuove terme and Stabilimento delle stufe vaporose, where thousands of visitors find every year health and relax in sulfur water and muds.

The Carnival of Sciacca

Traditional festival since the 19th century, the Carnival of Sciacca is one of the most famous and joyful throughout Sicily. Allegoric, decked with flowers and semi-mechanic floats parade through the old town center for several days with music, confetti and sparklers.

The historic float of Peppe Nappa is every year inevitable: The tradition has it that he was a clever farmer who used the festival to joke about the political authorities of that time. At the end of Tuesday, the float gets burned by tradition, while a jury awards the finest floats.

Historical Background of Sciacca

Sciacca was founded in the seventh century B.C. by the citizen of Selinunte and it became during the Greek age an important center of the southern cost because of its position nearby Agrigento. In addition its spa was always well appreciated by the Greeks and the Arabs too. So its name hails from the Arabic: it was called as-saqah or more probably xacca, terms that mean water abundance, which was eventually changed in the current Sciacca.

During the Arabic age, the town could manage to set up important commercial relationships with North Africa and to develop a thriving agriculture, as a result of the union between the fruitful lands and the Arabic farming innovations. Afterwards the town switched between development and less flourishing times. The fourteenth century was signed by blood feuds between the two most influent families of the town, the Perollo and the Luna.

In the following centuries the discovery of a coral reef directly close to the coast raised a great clamor, which gave a new start to the economy of the town. Sciacca is now an important holiday’s resort that can be visited all year round, to spend some days of relax and culture.

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The Beaches of Linosa and what to see

The Beaches of Linosa and what to see

Dove si trova Linosa

Linosa is a small island of volcanic origin, located 50 km to the north of Lampedusa in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. The island is still uncontaminated, with about a hundred people who live there year-round. It’s very green, with beautiful expanses of prickly pears that expand to the dark volcanic shores.

It is a place where tranquility reigns, the sea is the envy of any other location and sunsets draw unforgettable scenarios. Ideal for lovers of diving: should not be professionals to see many shoals of fish wander among the lava rocks in search of food.

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The small town of Linosa will surely surprise you for the bright colors of its houses: the small buildings are gathered together, with bright colors that contribute to make special the atmosphere of Linosa.

Here you can find some accommodation to stay, even among the inhabitants of the island who are used to rent rooms. In Linosa there is one unique road that leads to the most beautiful and fascinating places of the town: but you need to go there on foot or by bike, since in summer it is prohibited from landing in Linosa with your car.

The seaside of Linosa

The sea of Linosa has clear waters, which almost immediately reach high depths. In the fabulous coastline there are sandy volcanic beaches and very suggestive rocky ridges. Cala Pozzolana di Ponente, is a beautiful beach, often the destination of the loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) chosen to lay their eggs: its turquoise waters, clear and fresh, welcomes beautiful shoals of fish of different sizes.

Do not miss Punta Beppe Tuccio, a small promontory creating a small lagoon together with the smaller islands. Then, Grotta del Greco, on the eastern side of the island and the beach of Cala Pozzolana di Levante e Punta Calcarella located on the south side of Linosa.

…and moreover

If you go to Linosa you will surely enjoy the sea and the peace that reigns supreme. But despite the small size of the island, there is plenty to see on the mainland.

First, Mount Volcano worth a climb, with its summit at an altitude of 195 meters easily reachable through a path. The mountain is rich in vegetation, with typical Mediterranean scrub as well as large expanses of prickly pears.

From the summit, as well as having a complete view of the island, you can also find different species of birds using Linosa, during emigration periods, as a stopping point: the hawks and herons are definitely the most beautiful examples, but the most numerous are the Cory’s Shearwaters, large birds typical of Linosa arriving on the island during the breeding season.

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The Beaches and what to see in Lampedusa

Lampedusa sland: The Beaches and what to see

Dove si trova Lampedusa

Lampedusa is the largest of the Pelagie Islands, having an area of 23 square kilometres. It’s located just over 100 km from the North African coast and 200 km from the coast of Sicily and is devoid of vegetation, with the glare of the sun reflecting on the white limestone.

The small village of Lampedusa is located on the southeastern side of the island, where there are all the major facilities. Its beaches are not only chosen by tourists on vacation, but also by the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), protected sea turtles that come here between May and September to lay their eggs.

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The spectacular beaches of Lampedusa leave anyone speechless. Although not very well known at international level, they have few equals in the world. The coasts, all beautiful, have different shapes and all are worth at least one visit. The main beaches are those of Cala Croce, Guitgia and the famous Isola dei Conigli (literally “Rabbit Island”), one of the most beautiful in the Mediterranean Sea: its waters have an unmatched clarity and although very busy, there are many colorful fish, which reflect the warm sunshine of Lampedusa.

We must also mention the beaches of Cala Madonna and Cala Francese. All the mentioned beaches are located in the southern part of the island of Lampedusa. For those who prefer the rocks, will be spoiled for choice between Punta Sottile, Cala Creta and Cala Calandra (for the calm waters, this latter location is also known as the Dead Sea).

As if that were not enough, in Lampedusa there are also beautiful pebble beaches such as Cala Spugna, Cala Pisana, on the eastern side and the delightful Cala Pulcino, near Isola dei Conigli (literally “Rabbit Island”). The water is transparent, almost turquoise, along the entire coast of the island, very clean, and richly populated by sponges, vegetables (such as the characteristic sea lily) and a myriad of fishes.

For those who are not satisfied with the coast, but want to explore the Lampedusa seabed, will find a fantastic scenery, with its rich flora and fauna that is safeguarded by the Marine Protected Area Pelagie Islands in Lampedusa.

On the south-east side there is the so-called zone of Grottacce, where the very transparent waters allow us to see numerous examples of sea tomatoes and urchins, but also fish such as grouper, mullet and Coris julis.

In the north of Lampedusa, however, there are rocky seabed, tens of meters deep where it is not difficult to see amberjack, snapper and grouper. Further west there is the famous rock of Sacramento, a wonderful stack located in front of the famous cave of lovers, 50 meters high.

Lampedusa by Night

The cool evenings of Lampedusa combine the simplicity that has always characterized the island, with looking for fun that tourists inevitably require. In the evening you can eat out in one of the many bars located in Lampedusa: fresh fish skillfully cooked and served with genuine products, along with a glass of white wine. Then we move along Via Roma, where there are several bars and cafes to enjoy a few drinks or an ice cream.

For those who love the nightlife, there are also some music locals open until the early hours of the day, when in the background the beautiful sea of Lampedusa, resumes its crystal color at dawn.

Historical Background of Lampedusa

Traces of human settlements have been found in Lampedusa since prehistoric times, as evidenced by the necropolis discovered near the port. It was used by the Phoenicians as a docking point for the routes in the Mediterranean Sea but was never densely populated.

Only in the nineteenth century the Bourbons sought to establish settlers in Lampedusa, but destroying its habitat: vegetation, once very thick, was completely eradicated to use its wood. Being a strategic outpost of the Italian troops during the Second World War, suffered relentless bombing by Allied troops.

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The Beaches and what to see in Pantelleria

The Beaches and What to see in Pantelleria

Dove si trova Pantelleria

Hiranin (Birds’ Island), when it was under the rule of the Phoenician, bint al – rion during the Arabic period, today its name is Pearl of the Mediterranean Sea or, simply, Pantelleria. It is closest to the Africa than to Sicily and it’s the bigger island among the little Sicilian islands.

Its volcanic origin is covered by the luxuriant Mediterranean plants, among these plants there are the grapevines from that it extracts the famous “Passito of Pantelleria”, a world appreciated wine. The coast is rocky, but there are accessible places in which you can pass through to go to the sea.

The sea is always see-through and it is full of marine fauna. Within the Island there are many reasons that incite you to do excursions: secondary volcanic phenomenon, natural small lakes and the most panoramic places of Pantelleria.

Although the beauty of Pantelleria is well-known all over the world, the tourism that is developed in this island has always respected the island nature. For these reasons many movie stars choose it as a holiday resort to enjoy sun, nature and serenity.

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Pantelleria is freckled of little cubical buildings, the dammusi, low buildings with few settings, clear sign of Arabic domination which here settled for over two centuries. From the roof, the dome shows up, which is used to stabilize the building in case of earthquakes but especially to mitigate the building temperature, taking advantage of upward motions of hot air.

In the west north part of the island there are the famous “Sesi”, funerary temples of prehistorical population who lived in Pantelleria. Today they are about thirty, built with massive blocks of molten rock placed to shape the typical circular buildings. Within them, some spaces, dedicated to deceased, were obtained. Some researchers believe that here also characteristic rituals were performed, wherein deceased’s family, thanks to unusual gloom and herb, tried to get in touch with their beloved’s soul.

In the town of Pantelleria is even visible the “Castello di Barbacane” (Barbacane castle), built by Spanish during the fortification action of the island.

The Sea and the Beaches of Pantelleria

The rocky coast and the lack of sandy seashores let have a clear transparent sea, with a different graduated shading on the strength of the area. Many beach places are reachable by foot, but if you prefer to enjoy some exclusive place, it’s not a bad idea to rent a boat.

Pantelleria, naturally.

The inside of Pantelleria has got fantastic mountain features, it is full of vegetation and natural routes which earn an half day excursion at least. The higher top, the “Montegna Grande”, exceeds 800 metres: hence you can get a glimps of a panorama on the island.

In lower heights there are “Monte Cibele” (Cibele mount), an out volcanic cone by now and “Piana Ghirlanda” (garland plane), a little upland which is covered in greenery. From “Kuddia Mida”, at about 500 metres from the sea level, there is an amazing view towards the “Lago di Venere” (Venus lake), and in days wherein there isn’t too hot and the view is very clear, you can see also “Capo Mustafà” in  Tunisia.

Finally you cannot miss secondary volcanic phenomenon, like the dry bath and mineral spring, which are the reason so the old noble Roman decided to go to Pantelleria. A clear example of dry bath is in Saibi place: big jet of water vapor which goes in the cavern. But the sources are on the coast, in the southern part of the island: the water can exceed 50 Centigrade.

Historical Background of Pantelleria

Prehistoric population left clear marks of their past passed in the island: for example the “sesi”, curious circular building wherein the deceased were situated. Population of this period came in the island in search of “Ossidiana”, a sharp volcanic stone very important during the all old period. Pantelleria was colonized by the Phoenician, who made it an important seaport for all Sicily routes.

For the same reason the Carthaginian raced to conquer the island. Become Roman in 255 a.C. then the island was populated by different Christian colonies. Many marks remained from the Arabic period, for example names, of Middle Eastern origin, agriculture methods, up till the “dammusi”, typical short building of Pantelleria. In the following centuries Saracen pirates often got this island as a robbery land, leaving behind victims and ruins.

In the end of the nineteenth century it happened the last significant eruption which affected Pantelleria, with its opening situated about 5 km from the island. In the Second World War, Pantelleria was outpost of German soldieries and for this reason was bombarded hardly from the Anglo-American soldiers: among all the building presents in the island, only a few of them kept.

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What to see in Zafferana Etnea

What to see in Zafferrana Etnea

Dove si trova Zafferana Etnea

A spectacular lava stone balcony overlooking the eastern slope of Etna, directly on the coast of the Ionian Sea, here lies Zafferana Etnea.

A city which draws its resources from the volcano, built with the black stone of Etna by whom, many times over, it was threatened and violated.

Surrounded by a beautiful natural landscape, shaded by tall chestnut trees, Zafferana has been a fashionable resort for a long time because of its cool summer evenings and particularly lively events during the autumn season of Etna.

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The origin of the town is due to the presence of an ancient monastery, built during the medieval period. The earthquakes and eruptions that characterized the eastern side of Sicily in 1693 have inevitably left clear traces in its past.

The urban area of Zafferana is formed around the old town, characterized by lava flagstones, from the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Providence and the Town Hall. The first was built starting in 1731 but only completed in the following century.

The exterior is shown in white stone of Syracuse with clear baroque features. Inside it houses the Altar of Our Lady of Providence, repeatedly called upon and carried in procession to save Zafferana by lava flows that have continuously reached the top of the city. The Town Hall has instead been recently restored, after becoming unusable after the earthquake of 1984. Today it is admirable in a harmonious Art Nouveau style.

The attractive appearance of the city has not gone unnoticed by Franco Zeffirelli, a director of international fame who here has decided to set different scenes from the movie The Story of a Blackcap.

An ideal location for those wishing to spend a relaxing evening, perhaps letting themselves be tempted by some granita or local cuisine, Zafferana boasts several natural trails that branch off along the ridge of the volcano.

The breeze that cools the air nearly 700 meters high, the amenity of the place, along with the view of Catania and the quality of the different premises that are in place, make Zafferana an alternative destination to the resorts of the coast.

In October, Zafferana is the undisputed star of the evenings around Etna: thousands of people descend on the city for the famous Ottobrata, an event in which the best products, crafts, and local cuisine are put on display.

L’Ottobrata of Zafferana Etnea

In October, Zafferana is the undisputed star of the evenings around Etna: thousands of people descend on the city for the famous Ottobrata, an event in which the best products, crafts, and local cuisine are put on display.

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What to see in Randazzo

What to see in Randazzo


Randazzo is the nearest town to the summit of Etna: placed in a strategic position between the Alcantara and Simeto rivers, it is a pretty town with medieval character.

Because of its location it was used by the Germans as one of the last outposts before leaving Sicily in World War II: the effects were heavy, both for the population and for the heavily Allied bombed structures of the town itself.

Randazzo has maintained its medieval character, made even more distinctive by the color of the buildings, built using dark lava blocks.

Spending a day in Randazzo is definitely an experience: the town, well ordered, maintains a special charm while occupying an excellent position to reach the most fascinating places further in the high altitude.

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The Museums of Randazzo

The Vagliasindi Museum, located at the Tower of Randazzo, exposes a large number of potteries, mainly Greek (VI-III century BC), found in the area surrounding the city. Among the pieces of greater importance, the Oinochoe, a large jar used in ancient times to mix wine, some lekythoi (funerary vases) and two helikes, hair clips. Downstairs, The museum of Sicilian puppets consists of 21 puppets, still perfectly usable, made in the early years of the twentieth century.

The Museum of Natural Sciences, on Via Cesare Beccaria, contains numerous collections of zoological and natural characteristics of the territory, with distinguished collections of butterflies, birds, fish fossils and minerals, among which are volcanic stones.

Historical Background of Randazzo

Although, traces of human settlements from ancient times have been found, the origin of the urban agglomeration of Randazzo dates back only to the Byzantine period.

It was during the Norman period that the city took on greater importance and prestige, fortified by strong walls and defensive towers, with 8 alone to defend the northern slope of Etna, which housed the headquarters of the troops in Lombardy, and gave rise to the headquarters of San Martino. The phonetics of the language, inherited from the northern troops, is still present in the local dialect.

Randazzo was of considerable interest in the struggles of the War of the Vespers, becoming a military base of the troops of Peter I of Aragon and later the summer residence of Frederick II of Aragon. From the fifteenth century its importance was progressively reduced, due to looting and plagues that decimated the population.

In the twentieth century, the Second World War inflicted deep wounds to the community, destroying much of the architectural works present.

The Randazzo of today is developing into an effective tourist destination, thanks to the beautiful and characteristic architectural buildings that are still present today, and to its proximity to three national parks (Park of Etna, The Nebrodi and The Alcantara River Park), as well as excellent food and wine tradition.

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