On this journey I will take you to discover the eastern coast of **eastern Sicily**, starting from **Catania**, the city where your plane will land. Here I will let you discover the hidden beauty of a Greek and then Roman city, which became a **UNESCO site** for its baroque beauties, together with other cities destroyed by the 1693 earthquake. From here, you will move for an half-day tour to the **Etna Mountain UNESCO site**, and, after an excursion around **Bronte and Randazzo, beautiful villages on the Etna's slopes**, near to the **Nebrodi mountains**, I will take you to visit the beauties of **Taormina and Castelmola**. We will go exploring places, outside the traditional tourist circuits, whose beauty will leave you breathless.
If you will arrive with the airplane, have a look from the window!
If you want to get a first taste of Catania, this is the place: [A putia dell'Ostello] (https://aputiadellostello.business.site)! Which means something like The Hostel homemade cooking! Traditional and non-traditional dishes, in a youthful and friendly atmosphere right next to the remains of an ancient Roman baths building. I suggest you to ask for going under the caves ... It will be a surprise! ;-)
Starting from the real hearth of the city, discovering its unique archaeological and baroque beauties, without forgetting to see the lava beach!
Our trip will start from the real heart of the city: the Duomo square! Have a look around it! It's incredible in beauty, with its typical contrast black&white! Note that this is one of the most important site of the city, the real core for civic and religious reasons. Here, 5 meters underground, an ancient Roman baths lies... Here you can admire the very famous Elephant fountain, with its incredible story, the symbol of our city. You can listen to its story listening to the point of interest into the suggested izi.TRAVEL audiotour!
Here the Amenano river is flowing. Please, go behind the fountain, through some stairs, you will arrive in the fish market which is one of the most characteristic Sicilian markets! You can discover the story of this river listening to the point of interest in the suggested audiotour!
The [Diocesan Museum](https://museodiocesanocatania.com) is is a very raccomanded place to see. I recommend you to by an integrated ticket here (for Museum, the underground Achillenian Baths and the Benedictine Monastery, which costs € 13). Here you can see the very famous Fercolo, used during Saint Agatha Feast and some important artworks from our churches. Go up to the terrace of the Museum and you will see an incredible view between the sea and the Mountain, on Etnea Street. Do not forget to have a wonderful visit 5 meters underground: the Roman Achillenian Baths (I excavated there!). You can enter the Baths from the outside of the Cathedral, after paying ticket at the Diocesan museum ticket office.
The [Cathedral of Catania](http://www.cattedralecatania.it) is dedicated to Saint Agatha, patron of the city. It was built in the Norman period between 1078 and 1093, almost a thousand years ago, at the behest of Count Ruggero the Norman, over the remains of the Roman Achillian Baths, underground. The Cathedral was almost totally destroyed by the earthquake of 1693. Have a look at the fresco by Giacinto Platania, preserved in the sacristy: it shows the city during the eruption of 1669, preceding the earthquake: the Cathedral looked like a fortress on the sea, with a high tower at the crossing with the transept; the tower itself fell ruinously The Cathedral was rebuilt in a magnificent and austere Baroque style which makes it, like the whole historic center, a UNESCO heritage. Beyond the gate, you can closely observe the facade which, built between 1733 and 1761 by harmonizing the pre-existing Norman buildings with the new Baroque body, was the work of the abbot-architect from Palermo Giovanni Battista Vaccarini, protagonist of the reconstruction of Catania. After passing the entrance portal, decorated with tiles depicting scenes from the martyrdom of Saint Agatha, you will be welcomed by a monumental and solemn space, in the soft light that penetrates from the windows. The naves are separated by large pillars, among which the ancient foundations on which the building was rebuilt are still visible. On the right aisle at the second pillar you will find the sepulcher of the famous Catania musician Vincenzo Bellini. In the right arm of the transept is the Chapel of the Madonna, where the sarcophagi containing the bodies of some members of the Aragonese royal family are kept as well as, according to tradition, the remains of the two Christian soldiers Gisliberto and Goselmo, who brought the relics from Constantinople of Sant'Agata; and, finally, the Chapel of Sant'Agata, separated by a richly decorated wrought iron gate, in which there is the small room that houses the venerated relics, kept inside a precious reliquary bust studded with enamels and stones and a casket in silver.
Leaving the side door of the Cathedral, you have enter in the [Abbey of Saint Agatha](https://badiasantagata.wordpress.com), another splendid symbol of baroque Catania. Here there was a monastery, built in 1620 for the nuns who followed the rule of San Francesco di Paola, which was razed to the ground by the earthquake of 1693. The reconstruction on the same site was the work of the great architect Giovan Battista Vaccarini, between 1735 and 1767: the Abbey can be considered his most significant achievement. Be sure to be accompanied up to the terrace: from here you will enjoy a beautiful view! A wonderful audioguide will be useful for you to discover every story of this Church!
Looking at Mount Etna, on your left is the University Building, now home to the Rectorate, the "Giambattista Caruso" regional library and some administrative offices of the University of Catania. Did you know that the Catania university institution was the first in Sicily? It was founded on a concession from King Alfonso V of Aragon in 1434 and authorized by Pope Eugene IV in 1444. Unfortunately the original building was destroyed by the devastating earthquake that hit the city in 1693. Three years after the destruction it was decided to rebuild the Palace; the architect-abbot Giovanni Battista Vaccarini was commissioned to design the courtyard and the architect Francesco Battaglia and his son Antonino for the construction of the facade. You will be fascinated by the elegance of the central courtyard, designed by Vaccarini: decorated with an original flooring in which decorative motifs in white limestone and lava stone alternate, it is surrounded by an elegant two-storey portico. You can enter the San Giuliano palace, in front of the University one: you will remain fascinated by it! Now it is the prestigious seat of the administrative offices of the University of Catania. Work of the genius of the architect Giovan Battista Vaccarini, it was built starting from 1738 on commission of the noble Paternò family, marquises of San Giuliano. If you want to discover the stories described by the bronze sculptures decorating the square lamps, you can listen to their point of interests into the suggested audiotour.
Here you are in Stesicoro Square, named from the ancient Greek poet, born in Catania. Here you can have a look at the Vincenzo Bellini's monument, and at the Amphitheater, one of the most significant monuments of the Roman city of Catania. Its mighty ruins have been clearly visible from the central square since the early 20th century. The grandiose monument, one of the largest in the Roman world, is almost entirely hidden under the modern buildings. What does amphitheater mean in the meantime? It means "double theater", although in reality the shape of this building is an ellipse. Here, as was the case in other famous Roman amphitheaters, such as the Colosseum in Rome or the Arena in Verona, impressive public shows based on fights between gladiators and terrible ferocious animals were staged. As you can see in this [3D virtual reconstruction](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBy-SRxzRus), the amphitheater was externally formed by two overlapping orders of arches and was crowned by a high loggia; the cavea, that is the staircase, was divided by two annular corridors into three orders of steps, connected to each other by internal stairs that opened along the corridors. Archaeologists were able to calculate its size: it was truly immense! Being an ellipse, it was 125 meters long x 105 meters wide, while the arena had a maximum diameter of 70 meters and a minimum of 50. It has been calculated that it could hold 15,000 seated spectators and almost double with the addition of scaffolding. for standing places. The dating of its construction derives from the analysis of the construction technique and was built in two moments. The first building was perhaps built perhaps in the 1st century AD, it was smaller, with only one ambulatory and the corresponding part of the cavea above. In the second century AD, it was significantly enlarged with the construction of the external ambulatory, a new facade, the system of flying buttresses that connected it to the hill and a larger cavea that tripled the number of seats. You can enter and visit it!
[Pasticceria Savia](https://lnx.savia.it) is a MUST stop! the vary famous ARANCINI made by Savia are something you need to eat, here in Catania! Here you can also taste many other things: for example the GRANITA CON BRIOCHE, which means a very typical sort of ice cream, made without milk, in many different flavors, such as almond, chocolate, pistachio, coffee, some kind of fruits and so on. Have a rest here for a while and enjoy the very beautiful entrance of the Villa Bellini.
The Villa Bellini is the largest and most beautiful park in the centre of Catania. The park, entitled to the well-known musician Vincenzo Bellini, was completed in 1883 and is located north of the city. In its long streets, between beautiful trees, you can find many statues of famous people of Catania. The lovely city park includes several green areas, an entrance staircase and two hills. At the entrance there is the Botanical Clock - a date display of flowers, which is updated and replanted daily.
The little black beach named San Giovanni Li cuti it's a great place where you can have something to drink, in all the little pubs around. It's great to stay there at the sunset and for a beautiful rest just near the sea.
[Cutilisci](https://www.cutilisci.it) is one of the most famous restaurant in this location, set just in the little harbor, which was an ancient fisherman harbor. Here you can eat typical food, a great pizza and specific vegan food too. Its name comes from the lava rocks (cuti) smoothed by the sea.
Half a day discovering the ancient monuments on the top of the hill of Catania, then a route directly to the wonderful Acicastello village and the Faraglioni rocks, near Acitrezza, tasting a wonderful typical fish dinner!
Here you can visit one of the distinguished Roman monument, the Theater, and a little theatre named Odeon, which stand on the southern side of the Montevergine hill, occupied since the Greek age by public and private buildings. To be able to visit the monument in an optimal way, follow the path that will lead you inside the Theater. What remains in sight of the Theater is the result of long and complex liberation works from the houses and structures that had invaded it in past centuries. The Roman theater was built in the first century. A.D., about 2000 years ago, on the remains of a theater building from the Greek era, dated to the 5th century. BC, about 500 years earlier. In the 2nd century AD it was enlarged by building a third ambulatory, surmounted by a portico. You can admire many findings from excavations in two little museums inside the monument and a wonderful [3D reconstruction](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-wF8M9peS0&vl=it) from the 2nd century AD.
Here you can use the ticket you both at the Diocesan Museum. The [Benedictine Monastery](http://www.monasterodeibenedettini.it/en/) is one of the jewels of Catania's late Baroque UNESCO site and one of the largest Benedictine complexes in Europe. Today this place is home to the Department of Humanities of the University of Catania, but its history is long and is intertwined with the natural events that shocked Catania. It was founded in 1558 by the Benedectine monks, with a square-shaped layout with an internal cloister. The earthquake of 1693 destroyed it: only the basement and part of the first floor remained intact. In 1702 the reconstruction works began: the greatest Sicilian architects were protagonists of this huge construction site. A second cloister was added to the original one and a new wing was built to the north that included the library, the kitchens, the novitiate wing, the refectories and the choir at night. The lava bank, which in 1669 had leaned against the Monastery, was also skilfully used to create two hanging gardens, the Botanical Garden and the Novices' Garden. The Monastery was the subject of a grandiose restoration project, signed by the architect Giancarlo De Carlo, thanks to which the phases of life preceding the Monastery were brought to light, with an entire district of the Roman age and the domus of the late Hellenistic and imperial periods. If you want to discover all the secrets of this place, let [Officine Culturali Association be your guide](http://www.monasterodeibenedettini.it/en/guided-tours/) (with the ticket you bought!), you will discover that the Monastery is a single large treasure chest that gathers within itself an infinity of different worlds and stories! With the izi.TRAVEL audioguide you will discover the story of the 1669 eruption, so near to the Monastery!
If you want to taste the Catania specialties exactly where the people of Catania eat them, this is the place for you! If you say "let's go to [Achille](http://www.trattoriaachille.com)" in Catania, it only means one thing! Go and eat the roasted specialties! Walking from the Benedictine Monastery to this very typical restaurant, please listen the suggested audiotour, talking about the ancient walls of Catania!
If you want to see an incredible place, a little far from Catania, Acicastello with its Norman castle built directly on a rock on the sea, is wonderful! I suggest to have a walk here for a little while, to see the square and the Castle itself. If you want to discover this Castle and all the beautiful Norman castles around Mount Etna, please feel free to listen the suggested izi.TRAVEL audiotour!
After having seen the Norman castle, move with your car to Acitrezza and have a coffee or a drink here (no more than a coffee, because you have a great appointment for dinner!), just in front of the very famous Faraglioni! They are part of a Naturalistic Marine Protected area, that one of Isola Lachea, you can listen to their story through the Isola Lachea suggested izi.TRAVEL audio tour!
This is a real historical fish restaurant in Acitrezza! You can't go away without having tried his specialities!
Half a day it's enough to discover other beauties in the city, in the afternoon you will be driven up to the Mount Etna to have an incredible experience of our Vulcano!
This is one of the most beautiful medieval Castles in Sicily and you can discover it thanks to a great izi.TRAVEL audioguide, here suggested! It was built as a fortress on the sea by the Emperor Frederick II of Swabia between 1239 and 1250. Once it stood right in front of the sea, but the terrible eruption of 1669 furthered the sea coast away from the castle definitively. It was also a prison and since 1934 it became seat of the Civic Museum. Inside this impressive structure, you can admire a vast collection from the Civic Collections of paintings and archaeological artifacts.
This is a great industrial-archaeological center. Here you can find a complex of many museums, but I suggest to visit the 1943 Landing Museum, which reconstructs the stories of Anglo-Americans arrived in Sicily at the beginning of July 1943, starting the conquest of Italy, during the Second World War. It collects a great amount of military objects and great impressive reconstructions are displayed!
Have a little lunch here, [Nitto](https://www.nittopescheria.it) is a fish-vip for us! You can taste a plate of spaghetti with some seafood, and it will be a great moment for you! You can decide if you want to have a break directly eating out from the shop or in the restaurant rooms! In case, I suggest you to reserve a table!
I suggest to spend half a day (about 5 hours) by exploring the Etna Vulcano, which is UNESCO site, thanks to [a jeep trip around](https://www.getyourguide.com/catania-l258/catania-tour-in-jeep-dell-etna-al-tramonto-t204373/). They will pick you up not far from the harbor of Catania, so you can leave your car around there. You can explore old basalt lava flows, volcanic caves, and secluded woods and you can have a rest by a local taste of wine, liquor, and honey. At the end, you finally will take in breathtaking sunset views at Etna Volcano. If you want to discover Sicilian volcanoes, listen the suggested [audio tour on izi.TRAVEL](https://izi.travel/it/42c7-the-volcanoes-in-sicily-etna-vulcano-and-stromboli/en)!
Today you will drive to Bronte, the house of the real pistachio, and to Randazzo, an incredible beauty medieval village, and stay on a typical agriturismo at 1000 meters on the sea!
On the western slopes of Etna, surrounded by the naturalistic and landscape beauties of the Etna Park and the Nebrodi Park, lies Bronte. According to the legend, the Cyclops Bronte (who, together with Sterope and Piracmon, forged lightning for Zeus) founded the city and gave it its name. In fact, we know that the first inhabitants were the Sicilians around 700 BC, over 2600 years ago. Here too, as in this whole portion of Sicily, there have been different civilizations that have followed Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, however the current town was born much later, since it originated from the merger of 24 hamlets by order of emperor Charles V in 1535. Over the years the territory in 1799 was transferred to the Nelson family, when King Ferdinand IV donated the abbey of Maniace and the annexed territory to the Admiral Horatio Nelson as a reward for the help received in the repression of the Neapolitan Republic. Bronte is above all a city rich in cultural, monumental and artistic heritage. In the meantime, I would like to point out the Nelson Castle, which includes the remains of an old abbey founded in 1173, the Church of Santa Maria di Maniace and a large park; then there is the Real Collegio Capizzi, built in 1778, a cultural center; and also the Bourbon Library in which are kept volumes of inestimable value; the “Nunzio Sciavarrello” art gallery inaugurated in 2010 and the “Gullotti” Sicilian cart museum. Think about it: in the town there are 21 ancient churches! You cannot miss the Sanctuary of the Madonna Annunziata dating back to the first half of the 1500s, with a beautiful sandstone portal inside which precious Renaissance works are kept, including the beautiful sculpture of the Annunciation, the work of the famous sixteenth-century sculptor Antonio Gagini. The Church of the Holy Trinity is the largest in the country and the most important from an architectural point of view. The Church of San Giovanni is particularly scenic, as it stands on a fan-shaped lava staircase and is embellished by the characteristic bell tower in lava stone. Finally, the twentieth century Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is embellished inside with Baroque style decorations with Renaissance and classical elements. But Bronte is world famous as the city of pistachio! The Arabs introduced this crop, which thrives on the lava rock, producing the best quality of fruit on the market. You cannot leave without enjoying the excellent products and delicious dishes that are obtained from this green gold! You certainly cannot miss the pistachio festival held at the end of September and beginning of October! Furthermore, you can enjoy the natural beauty represented by the succession of vegetation, agricultural crops, centuries-old woods, from the Simeto river, with all the suggestive lava landscapes that make it an uncontaminated and picturesque place. In short, if you want to spend time immersed in history, good food, unspoiled nature and breathtaking views, you are in the right place!
If you want to taste pistachio in all its forms, this is the right place! I recommend a short stop here, where you can taste the best pistachio arancino in the world and a whole series of desserts made with "the green gold of Bronte" It is a family-run bar and pastry shop that produces creams, pesto, ice cream, granitas, desserts! The owner will passionately tell you about the art of working pistachio from the earth to good food.
The city rises on the north side of the volcano, on the last lava bank of a prehistoric flow, eroded by the waters of the Alcantara river, in a landscape and naturalistic context that will leave you breathless! Although the country has medieval origins, this territory has been a place of life of great civilizations: Greeks, Romans, Jews, Arabs, each of them has left traces of high artistic and cultural value here. The city has almost entirely preserved its medieval aspect, because it was lucky enough to be spared from the volcano, despite being closer to the central crater of Etna. You should know that its territory is surrounded by 3 well-known parks, the Alcantara River Park, the Nebrodi Park and the Etna Regional Park, and is therefore the perfect starting point for excursions in the surrounding area! The territory is rich in castles and ancient noble palaces. Among them stands out the restored Palazzo Comunale, an ancient monastery in a medieval structure; Palazzo Clarentano is an elegant sixteenth-century noble residence, in Catalan late-Gothic style; Palazzo Reale was built under the last Norman kings. Finally, there is the Swabian Castle, called Castle-Prison, as it became a place of detention for prisoners and then passed to the Romeo and Vagliasindi families. The Monastery of San Giorgio housed cloistered Benedictine women; the suggestive Via dei Lanza is truly a jewel, with its palaces; and then there is the enchanting Via degli Archi, a small street that is a medieval gem, which is a wonderful example of Aragonese architecture in Sicily. The Norman-Swabian Church of Santa Maria encloses 3 apses with the shape of crenellated towers; the church of San Nicolò preserves numerous sculptures of the Gagini school with a baptismal font in the Gothic style; and finally you cannot fail to admire the Church of San Martino, with the most beautiful medieval bell tower in Sicily! There is the Civic Museum of Natural Sciences, which exhibits an ornithological collection. The Archaeological Museum houses valuable artifacts. The Puppet Opera Museum houses 21 pieces from the Sicilian Puppet collection, which were and still are used to stage variants of the chansons de geste of the time of Charles Magno and his paladins. Furthermore, for years the aromas and flavors of the Etna territories have been enclosed in excellent wines, such as Etna DOC Red or White. You really need to discover these beauties in person!
If you're in Sicily, you will be surely fascinated by the very famous Taormina panoramas, but you can't loose to visit the nera Castelmola...
I suggest you to leave early in the morning Quota mille and drive to Taormina, but firstly to leave your car her, in the Lumbi Parking! It is difficult to find a parking in Taormina! Free shuttles leave from this car park to Porta Messina.
This is one of the two gates of the medieval citadel of Taormina! One of the entrances to the city, from which you need to have a walkthrough, to really enjoy its beauty!
If you want to have a great and unique taste of Taormina, its incredible **Greek-Roman Theatre** needs to be your first stop! You can enjoy the magnificent show of this theater, set on the rock, overlooking the sea and the smoking Etna! Perhaps the most famous ancient theater in the world: you can't miss it! If you want, you can discover the history of the Theatre and some other archaeological findings and historical monuments thanks to the Discovering archaeological Taormina izi.TRAVEL audioguide! You can imagine how the ancient theatre appeared in the Roman times thank to a [3D reconstruction](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aET_jChMT_M)! I suggest you to use the audioguide for your walkthrough the historical centre!
After enjoying the breathtaking view of the Theater, I recommend a nice walk along the main street of the city: your destination is Piazza del Duomo, but take it easy! Take some "detours" to discover the many hidden monuments: the Roman Baths, the Odeon, the Naumachia ... the izi.TRAVEL audio guide will help you! Along the way, be sure to admire the beautiful medieval Palazzo Corvaja, with its mullioned windows, its beautiful portal and its splendid staircase inside the courtyard! Continuing along Corso Umberto, a stop for a few selfies is mandatory at the Belvedere, where the course continues passing under the Clock Tower! Finally, going on, you will arrive in the splendid square of the Duomo, where this beautiful church of medieval origins stands!
I suggest eating in this family-run trattoria, where you can enjoy excellent, fresh and quality fish, accompanied by a prestigious wine list (the Nero d'avila in fact is a wonderful Sicilian red wine!)! Try the tuna tartare and the Mediterranean carpaccio...they are incredible!
After lunch, I suggest a slow walk through the city, and to take a coffee near the Belvedere...then go directly to Porta Messina and take the shuttle bus to the Lumbi Parking.
Take your car from the Parking and drive to Castelmola.
Here you will have a great medieval walk in this very little town, just on the top of a Mount, which is part of the prestigious club “I Borghi più Belli d’Italia” (the most beautiful italian villages). You will discover a very suggestive center, with its narrow streets, the Castle and the ancient churches. You will soon arrive in Piazza Sant’Antonio, which square has a great pavement, made up of an extraordinary mosaic in white and lava stones. From the ancient Norman Castle you will have a great panorama, you will admire the underlying city of Taormina, Mount Etna, and the entire Ionian coast of Messina and, in front of you, the coast of Calabria region. From the castle you can admire a spectacular view, especially at sunset! Many churches here testify the presence of different architectural styles. The little church of San Giorgio, just near the Sant'Antonio square, incorporates a tiny bell tower.
[Bar Turrisi](https://www.turrisibar.it) is a MUST here! And it its one of the most famous bar in the entire world! I do not want to suggest nothing in this case....you will understand alone WHY it's so famous! I can suggest you only to eat a great pizza or something else and to taste their sweet almond wine, which is very typical here! And have a great time!
...and finally your trip is ended! We're sure you will return in Sicily, after your experience here! Some other beautiful places and landscapes need to be discovered here!
And finally you can drive to the airport!