Travel Tips For Sicily – Part Two

April 13, 2015 1

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Sicily is a wild and romantic island. Its nature is wild and untamed in some areas, its baroque cities and villages are romantic and inviting. After last week’s post about western Sicily, today I am taking you to the eastern part of the island. We will visit Catania, the islands second largest city, as well as Syracuse, an ancient city in the southeast of Sicily. And we will climb high up – to more than 3,000 meters of altitude to wander the snow and the craters of one of Europe’s most active volcanos Mount Etna. Ready? Buckle up!

Catania is one bustling city. Even though it comes second after Palermo, I felt like it is way busier, there is more going on, the city is very young and the nightlife is buzzing. The city itself matches the Sicilian pattern: Beautiful baroque architecture is followed by crumbling facades and dismal buildings. But the landmarks of the city under the volcano are magnificent – the wonderful cathedral on the city’s central square, the quaint Bellini garden, the picturesque Via Crociferi, the fortified Castello Ursino and the colourful fish market La Pescheria.

The city will also surprise you with its many little piazzas surrounded by restaurants and wine bars. Somehow, I preferred Catania over Palermo for the atmosphere. Some places I would recommend are the pastry shop Savia to enjoy some delicious cannoli, the Caffè del Duomo serves great coffee, ice cream and arancini (fried rice balls, a Sicilian specialty) and the Ciciulena restaurant with good Sicilian food and a funky interior design including plants.

If you prefer to experience a less urban atmosphere, head south to the ancient city of Syracuse. Here again you will have some questionable architecture in the modern part, but just continue to the old town which is located on an island called Ortigia. You will quickly get lost once you enter the old town’s labyrinth of narrow streets. Let go and just wander around – you will discover the most beautiful balconies adorned with plants, you will pass by cute little stores and restaurants and eventually you will end up at the magnificent Piazza Duomo, a pastel colored Italian dream for the romantic soul in you.

Stay in Syracuse to enjoy the evening ‘passeggiata’ – once dusk sets in the atmosphere will become even more magic with the city illumination. My personal top recommendation in Syracuse is the wonderful wine bar/shop Enoteca Solaria – try a good local wine and enjoy some typical Sicilian food in a convivial atmosphere.

Last but not least let’s talk about Mount Etna. Mid March is quite early and still pretty much winter on the volcano. So be prepared for snow, cold temperatures and foggy conditions. I took the car up to the Rifugio Sapienza which lies slightly under 2,000 meters altitude. You pass through various villages on the slopes of Mount Etna and the last part is a crazily winding road through old lava fields. We drove through cotton thick fog and made it to the Rifugio with no sight of anything. But then the magic happened – the fog diluted and we spotted the Etna cable car station. Next thing I know I was tootling up to around 3,000 meters below the Etna craters. I was marching through snow surrounded by skiers and snowboarders overlooking an endless sea of fog below us and smokey tops beyond us. A truly remarkable moment! Don’t miss it if you ever end up on Sicily.

See you next time from another place!

Photography by Igor Josifovic
19 Comments

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19 Comments

  • Reply The slow pace April 13, 2015 at 08:15

    Gorgeous pictures! I’ve spent last weekend in Berlín and I need a vacation after that. Oh my, I’m exhausted! These images have transported me a little bit so thank you!
    xx,
    E.
    http://www.theslowpace.com

    • Reply Igor Josifovic April 13, 2015 at 09:34

      Thank you very much!! Oh my, I imagine that it was exhausting but I bet it was great and fun too in Berlin, right?!

  • Reply Abi | These Four Walls blog April 13, 2015 at 09:37

    Fantastic photos! You really can’t beat Sicily for a break – it’s such a varied place, with so much to see and do. And delicious food, too…

    • Reply Igor Josifovic April 13, 2015 at 13:30

      Absolutely true, Abi! Maximum experience on one single island!

  • Reply Lisa Hjalt April 13, 2015 at 18:36

    Is there such a thing as virtual feast for the soul? Loved spending a few minutes in Sicily this evening. The photo with the balconies and plants made me smile – love it. The photos by Mt. Etna remind me of Iceland 😉

    • Reply Igor Josifovic April 13, 2015 at 21:36

      Thank you my friend:-) I believe in virtual feasts for the soul!!! Anything else would be devastating for us bloggers, right? 🙂 Glad you enjoyed my little virtual trip and I agree – Etna looked a bit like Iceland with all the snow. Even though I have never been to Iceland. So far!!

  • Reply Kreetta April 13, 2015 at 19:14

    Thanks for sharing your trip in Sicily. Looks lovely. Absolutely travel fever went up…!

    • Reply Igor Josifovic April 13, 2015 at 21:36

      You are very welcome! Traveling is essential for the soul!!

  • Reply secretgardenhome.com April 13, 2015 at 20:20

    Thank you for reminding me of my last Italian trip, which included a stunning Sicilly and Etna (it looks amazing covered in snow).
    It looks like you had a lovely break.
    Bests
    Mon@secretgardenhome

    • Reply Igor Josifovic April 13, 2015 at 21:36

      Happy you enjoyed the little trip down memory lane!

  • Reply Yvonne April 14, 2015 at 10:42

    What a wonderful destination! And Mount Etna is definitely going on the travel wish list .

    • Reply Igor Josifovic April 14, 2015 at 17:40

      Thank you Yvonne!! Yes, Mount Etna was actually my highlight and I wanted to go to Sicily all because of it – I am a volcano fan:-)

  • Reply Aaron April 15, 2015 at 15:52

    I have been debating a good long while about making a trip to Italy and hadn’t even considered the island of Sicily. After viewing your wonderful photos, I may have to rethink this 😉

  • Reply Silk&Salt April 16, 2015 at 08:38

    Nice and lovely tips!!!

    Your Silk&Salt Team
    – Instagram is for pictures, Youtube is for videos, Silk&Salt is for blogposts –

    http://silk-salt.com/en

  • Reply Beauty Follower April 18, 2015 at 08:21

    Wonderful place… δεν ηξερα οτι χιονιζει στην Έτνα!

  • Reply Sandra June 28, 2015 at 13:03

    As beautiful as Sicily is..what´s your opinion about the terrible street-animal situation?
    For me it was a trauma..

    • Reply Igor June 28, 2015 at 13:14

      Interesting observation! It’s weird, but I haven’t noticed any unusual number of animals on the street during my stay. Maybe because I was a bit out of season there? I don’t know, I can not recall any unusual situation with street-animals.

  • Reply Gabriele April 16, 2016 at 18:47

    Hey Igor, great article, among your lines seems to be a great mood.
    Sicily is fantastic, has got several things to see and maybe only 1 week it’s too brief to discover all the island.
    Did you visit Ragusa, Noto and Modica as well?
    Moreover, could I ask you if your expectation were fullfilled?
    Thank you!
    Gabriele.

    • Reply Igor April 17, 2016 at 14:46

      Hi Gabriele, my trip was really a bit too short to see everything so I had no time to go and visit Noto, Monica or Ragusa unfortunately. But you always need an excuse for a second trip, right? 🙂

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