It is end of September and it looks that summer is about to last forever. Perfect time for trip to Sicily! it is 4 years now since our last Sicily, we loved it very much but it was so hot back then. As last time we explored a small area around Palermo, now we will go by car on the other side of island, next to the one of the most famous European active stratovolcano, Mount Etna. I am very excited as my last active volcano was in Chile, years ago and I don’t even remember it anymore.
So, we landed in Palermo and we rented a car so we can move around this huge island.
We expected that road to Taormina from Palermo is gonna be more like this, and mom and dad decided to take one that goes next to coast, through Cefalu and Messina.
Now we know that we made mistake. This is the road with who knows how many tunnels on its way.
On the half way we were sorry that we didn’t count them. But trust me, we never saw that many tunnels on the way.
After really boring and long drive finally we arrived to our hotel that had most amazing view.
And inside was really elegant and charming.
Apart from stunning views it had some interesting things as well, like this vintage game.
And this beautiful lady cat, that lives in the hotel!
Meet Bella, hotel lady cat!
Of course, this was a love at first sight!
View from our balcony was second best thing in here.
… overlooking beautiful Naxos bay on the coast of the Ionian Sea.
And Mount Etna as well.
Having pool in hotel is big bonus.
And it is great way to relax after a day on the road.
Relaxing in the pool, the view on these tall palms was incredible.
But not just the palms, everything around looked fabulous.
This hotel has beautifully maintained garden that I had to explore.
Five minutes walking distance from hotel is Taormina city centre.
Proper summer vibe, with lots of bars, restaurants and souvenir shops.
Main square Piazza IX Aprile was amazing. It is first time I see floor tiles like this on the square.
And night here is busy and touristy.
Lots of these all around. Mom explained to me that this is symbol of the Sicily, Medusa’s head, gorgon with snakes instead of hair with three legs.
It was pretty much everywhere around.
Just next to our hotel there are public gardens of Taormina.
Before being given to the City , the Public Gardens were the private garden of the residence of an English noblewoman who lived in Taormina at the end of the nineteenth century and married the mayor of the city.
What we saw is odd mix of different architectural styles, combining the Gothic, Romanesque, and Rococo style with the concept of the Oriental pagoda.
We decided to see it next time during daylight, cause it looked awesome.
Next morning, guided visit to Etna!
Completely unprepared for the wind that was up there we had to borrow jacket for me from our guide.
Great place for little explorer like me.
We saw lots of craters that are inactive now.
Such a scary things!
This place looks like a Moon.
Big downside of it was a garbage all around.
Not nice thing to see.
This man was selling pretty cute souvenirs.
Ladybugs on volcanic stone!
Well, it seems that Etna is a home of ladybugs as they love elevations and here there aren’t any enemies they need to fear.
So walking around spotting ladybugs was my mission here.
Going around and exploring this big crater site was all I was doing here.
And then I saw this. They explained to me that during eruption lava covered entirely this small house.
That was scary thing to think about it.
Especially when I could see Etna in the smoke not so far away from us.
And then my parents made a huge surprise for me. A helicopter ride above active Etna!
I was scared to sit in at first, but they assure me that there is no reason to be scared.
And I had to trust them.
Once we took off I started to enjoy it.
It was great to see how slopes of Etna are changing.
From green parts to just naked lava stone.
Etna is nonstop active. White smoke is getting out entire time.
But when there is a grey smoke, that means that small explosion happened in there. We had luck to spot couple of them.
Big active craters looked scarily amazing.
And there, you can see smoke from explosion.
Seeing all this from above was truly magical experience!
Just from here one can see how huge and beautiful this place is.
Etna is magnificent piece of work!
And surroundings are from outer space!
Getting back after 20 minutes helicopter ride we could again see changes, from lava to green vegetation.
I didn’t expected this, and of course I loved it, my first question getting out from helicopter was when we can do it again.
After seeing it from up mom and dad decided to explore gastro impact of volcano.
This area is famous for great honey, wine and liquors.
Even I was curious.
On the way to winery I found this lava bombs.
It is a lunch time, and we are in winery restaurant Gambino.
Lovely place on the slopes of Etna.
Located on the eastern side of the Etna volcano, in the woods of the National Park and facing the sea of Taormina.
Gambino’s Etna vineyards are in the high altitude: at 800 meters above sea level, laying on sunny and airy terracing that have a breathtaking panorama.
We shared some food here.
Couscous is a big thing here on Sicily, you can find it everywhere and it is prepared in million different ways.
And then mom and dad shared some wine. Different bottles, different glasses and different colours.
After lunch we enjoyed for a moment this happy place.
Next day, we are heading south by car, to make a quick trip to first Catania, and then Syracuse.
Mom said that we can’t see all we wanted to see, so in Catania just Piazza del Duomo and A’ Piscaria Mercato del Pesce .
Busy touristy central piazza.
And this is city’s symbol: an elephant known in the local dialect as “Liotru” – likely a mispronunciation of the name “Eliodoro”. According to tradition, Eliodoro was the author of the black lava stone elephant statue.
Just around the corner there is green market with all this Sicilian sorts of fruits.
This was surprising thing to see.
It was covered all the way.
We enjoyed vibe of this place and I had fun watching around.
Next to fruit market is fish market – A’ Piscaria Mercato del Pesce, one of the biggest in Italy and is an incredible attraction in the city. And for that reason mom wanted to check on it.
We arrived bit late and totally unprepared. Open shoes on fish market are bad thing.
It is one wet and stinky open market but with a lots to see. And buy if one wants to buy. If one comes early in the morning not at noon like us.
I am not fun of dead animals, so there were some parts that I didn’t like at all.
Our next stop is Syracuse, 1 hour drive from Catania. Historical centre of Syracuse is Ortygia. small island that was easily transformed into a natural fortress with harbours and was big enough that it could hold a significant population in ancient times.
Anyone who finds himself in the city is able to swim in the mythical waters. At Ortigia, there are sun terraces that facilitate the descent through the rocks and allow for a swim just behind Syracuse.
We weren’t so much attracted to this kind of beach here, we knew Sicily has much much better beaches.
So, today, just a quick tour through this ancient place.
Another one Piazza del Duomo, the island’s main square. This big pedestrian only area is surrounded by many white stone buildings.
Duomo di Siracusa is an ancient Catholic church with structure of originally a Greek doric temple, and for this reason it is included in a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We loved this place much more than Catania.
And I had a great time exploring sites.
Back to Taormina it was time to explore it a bit.
And first stop are public gardens of course.
I’ve climbed everywhere.
And walked all around gardens.
And finally we saw this beautiful piazza on daylight.
Taormina centre is full during a day. People are visiting shops and bars, or just walking around.
We did all of that.
Place that we had to see was Teatro Antico di Taormina.
Teatro Antico di Taormina is the second largest theatre of Sicily, after the one in Syracuse (one that we couldn’t see because we hadn’t enough time for it)
They told me that construction of this theatre started more than 2300 years ago! That sounds a long long time ago.
This theatre has amazing setting and views.
And it is pretty much well preserved. Today, they use it for concerts and theatre shows.
Mom forbidden me to jump and run on the site and then she got really nervous seeing other tourists climbing around and not respecting the place.
Outside theatre we saw on the tv how it was long time ago.
That was interesting thing.
Last day of Taormina we are about to explore places around.
First we are visiting one extremely bizarre and funny place in the village of Calstelmola, located on hilltop perched above town of Taormina.
View from this village is spectacular.
This is cafe bar Turrisi, tourist attraction just because it is filled with big collection of phalluses or in Sicilian dialect “minchia” .
It was funny to go around and find different things all of them shaped like a weenie.
But behind this carefully collected and assembled bar there is a serious story.
Believe it or not, this place hosted the first gay communities in the Mediterranean sun, in the last decades of the nineteenth century, and some of artists and intellectuals like D.H. Lawrens, Gothe, Oscar Wilde, Thomas Mann…
Turrisi, free spirited and passionated for history, wanted to represent here, in this bar, all the culture of the past, thus creating the famous Turrisi bar.
So, with time, collection got bigger and it filled 4 floors of this charming bar.
Bar has lovely terraces outside.
And the view from the top terrace is just wow! You can see Etna right there!
Since he came from a rural family, Turrisi was skilled in the production of wine and he started to aromatise the wine in order to let tourists taste and enjoy the aromas and scents of his land.
The almond wine is certainly his pride, born from a dry white wine in fusion with almonds, aromatic herbs and citrus absences.
The ancient name of the bar derived from the same almonds that enriched the wine: Taverna del mandorle in fiore.
Today, they still produce it and sell it in bar, together with this cute glasses that one can take home as souvenir.
We loved this small village and it’s energy.
Just after, we went to famous mercato, an open market, as in Italy, every city or village has one, and this one supposed to be huge.
It was big, but we didn’t find it appealing.
We went to the nearby beach, to take a swim. This is beach with volcanic black sand that roasts yours feet.
Beach and sea were really nice, and good thing was that there were not people at all even if temperatures were like in mid summer.
Next day we are leaving Taormina, getting back in Palermo area, but first we gonna stop on the way in one huge historic site.
We are checking archaeological site in Agrigento, Sicily. It is one of the most outstanding examples of Greater Greece art and architecture.
The Valley includes remains of seven temples, all in Doric style.
First one we checked is The Temple of Hera Lacinia, or Juno Lacinia.
This archeological site is huge, and there is lots to see but you need to walk around, and I got tired soon.
It is really hot today so we are gonna take it easy and see what we can.
Good thing was that I had fun exploring this ancient structures so it everything was easier.
And there with stories about Greek Gods and their temples, I was curious to see more.
Best temple around was The Temple of Concordia, the largest and best-preserved Doric temple in Sicily and one of the best-preserved Greek temples in general.
This place has really special vibe.
And magnificent 600 years old olive tree.
The Temple of Concordia was nicest one.
And mom told me that Unesco used this one for their logotype.
The Temple of Heracles or Temple of Hercules was our last to see today.
We explored half of the site and decided to hit the road and get to our next destination.
Luckily, we found transport to the car, for me this was bit too much.
After a long way we got to out hotel really late.
I was so tired from that day so I slept all morning.
And then I explored new hotel.
We are close by to Palermo, just around the corner in San Vito Lo Capo, small seaside town in northwestern Sicily.
Beside nice beach that we have yet to check, we have nice pool!
We went outside to check beach under hotel cause it looked good.
But it wasn’t for me.
Even though scenery was amazing.
Downside, again, dirty garbage all around.
So, if that beach is not for me, I have hotel pool to enjoy it.
And so I did!
Just for record, we were only guests on the pool, and hotel was almost empty. It is begging of October but weather is still summer-ish.
So, if past days we were busy going around exploring places, next three days we are gonna spend on the beach and enjoy this late summer vibe.
This dreamy beach, the one san Vito lo Capo is famous for is on a sheltered bay overlooked by Mount Monaco.
With pristine clear water and perfect weather we found ourselves in paradise.
Beach wasn’t too busy – Sicilian beaches, like Sardinian ones are beautiful and for that reason they get too busy.
Three days of pure joy and happiness!
This is my endless summer.
We love Sicily.
There’s everything here… History and amazing nature…
And if you ask me – delicious food.
I wish we visit it again. Ciao, bella.
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