One of the best summer destinations is usually Italy. Why? This country is blessed by the sun, delicious food and beautiful architectural buildings. Italy has a long past full of historical events, wars and natural catastrophes. However, this time my summer journey was spent in “a little bit different Italy” (that’s how local Italians say) – in Sicily, the island pearl of Italy.
…On the sixth day,Renzino Barbera
God accomplished His work
And, pleased with all the beauty
He had created,
He took the Earth in His hands,
And kissed it.
There, where He put His lips,
Sicily (in Italian – Sycylia) is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, located in the south of the Italian Peninsula, from which it’s separated by the narrow Strait of Messina. It’s a very beautiful island with a rich culture (art, music, theater, food, Sicilian baroque). What’s more: there is an active stratovolcano Etna (Mongibello) that often erupts and has as many as 300 craters.
I invite you to dive into my Sicilian journey. Be inspired by photos and Italian stories.
Our hotel with its own beach was in Taormina. It’s a wonderful and very elegant city, with narrow streets andvariety of restaurants and cafes. Taormina is a hilltop town on the east coast of Sicily that sits near Mount Etna. It was a good decision to stay in this area, as there are the most beautiful beaches in the whole Sicily. What’s more: the amazing architecture and nature. For example: Duomo di San Nicola, Ancient Theatre, Isola bella (a small island), Chiesa di San Pancrazio, Odeon, Palace Dukes of Santo Stefano and other picturesque places.
Additionally, our (me and my family) hotel made us feel the real Italy with its design, beauty and views. Check the photos below!
VAL DI NOTO
Val di Noto or Noto’ Valley is a very beautiful and historical place situated in the southeastern third of Sicily island. The whole valley is protected by UNESCO and was described as “representing the culmination and final flowering of Baroque art in Europe“. True, there you will find a huge amount of late baroque Sicilian towns and churches. In general, there are 8 small cities: Caltagirone, Militello Val di Catania, Catania, Modica, Noto, Palazzolo, Ragusa and Scicli. All towns were rebuilt in 1693 due to a powerful earthquake that destroyed the valley. We have visited 4 of them: Ragusa, Modica, Noto and the biggest one, Catania. You can read a little bit more about them below. Stay inspired by the photos of landscape and delicious food!
Ragusa is a town being situated on the hill. Ragusa is divided into two parts: the old part, Ragusa Ibla, and the modern part, Ragusa Superiore. The old town has many baroque buildings (for ex. the Duomo di San Giorgio, a huge church with beautiful paintings). In the newest part you will find the Ragusa Cathedral, as well as many nice architectural houses and bridges.
Modica is a great city with a baroque style, for example take a look at the Cathedral of St. George. It’s a very historical and picturesque town that has also two parts: the oldest one, Modica Alta, and the modern one, Modica Bassa. Both are worth your visit.
Noto is a heart of Val di Noto. It’s a dream destination for all photographers and artists. Why?
First of all, there is an enormous amount of incredible cathedrals and churches. Its famous cathedral, the Cathedral of San Nicolò, which is situated on the top of the hill, was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You can check as well the church of Santa Chiara, the church of Montevergine, the church of Saint Francis Immaculate and the Arco di trionfo, that are very close to the cathedral and to Vittorio Emanuele street. What’s more, in front of the cathedral you will find a Palazzo Ducezio, a Municipal House.
Secondly, there is a very yummy food. We have visited a restaurant that is situated near the Palazzo Nicolaci. The meal was tasty, but the customer service was really terrible. Still, I was satisfied with my plate of Italian pasta. Check below!
I decided to share my feelings about Catania separately from other cities of Val di Noto, because Catania is a very big and active city during the day and night. Let’s start with some facts about the Sicilian town. Firstly, Catania is a port city and that makes a big difference among other towns of Val di Noto. It has faced many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and still stays alive with a big amount of habitants. Next, this city is the second largest metropolitan in the whole Sicily. Thirdly and the most shocking fact, it’s situated at the foot of the most active volcano in Europe, the Mt. Etna. In Catania you will find many historical and baroque buildings and churches. Additionally, you should check the central park of the city. It’s a very nice place for relax and walks with your pets.
Some special things to do in Catania:
- To try the Sicilian red orange juice
- To visit the street full of restaurants: via Santa Filomena
- Check the fresh market (best time: early morning)
- To visit a pet’s shop (pet lovers: there are 2 floors)
- Go to Etna (yes!)
- Do sightseeing!
- Have a good dinner
Here we come to the most active and biggest volcano in Europe. Say hello to the greatest Mountain Etna! When we came to Sicily this summer, on the first day of our staying, the sky was really black and dark grey with many terrible clouds. The first thought: it’s just a storm or rain. However, when I started to read news, I found out that Etna was erupting! HOLY SH*T! It was an incredible feeling that you are near the volcano that erupts in hot lava. On the next day, everything was quite sunny and clear. Until our last day of traveling, when we were already in the airplane and saw smoke coming out of the crater of the volcano. When we arrived in Munich, I read that Etna started to erupt again, exactly on July 21, 2019. When such things happen, you understand that nature is so unpredictable and so beautiful.
During our Sicilian journey, we decided to go to Etna to see her craters. And we did it! We reached the first touristic place at 1900 meters above sea level by car. There are 3 stages, which you can visit. We went only on the first stage, because we were not planning to go there at all and we were not prepared (meaning: clothes, good sport shoes, wet napkins, etc.). Still, we saw many beautiful sleeping craters and the whole view of Mt. Etna. When we were at 1900 meters above sea level, the temperature was around +18°C, while near the sea it was up to +35-38°C.
What can I tell more? Check the photos below and be sure to plan the trip to Etna, if you are going to Sicily. It’s a wonderful place. Take the comfortable shoes and a warm jacket.
THE GODFATHER TOUR
If you a fan of the film “The Godfather”, you are going to enjoy this film especially in Sicily. Why? There are many places, where the film was made. The most famous village is Savoca, where you will find the bar Vitelli, and the church, where Michael and Apollonia were married. There you will see also a monument of Coppola (the director of the film). The bar is open to visitors; you can take a sit and order some food.
Near Taormina you can go to many nice villas, where some moments of the film were made. Some of them are not active; some need to be reserved first to see the villa.
One of sightseeing places was Syracuse. We heard many positive opinions about this town. However, it wasn’t so special for us (as for comparison Val di Noto). Still, it’s a nice city with old and new parts. There are some baroque buildings as well. You can also find a big fresh market (better come in the morning), a shopping center, beautiful churches and fountains.
Messina is the third largest port city in Sicily. It’s a very beautiful city, with many amazing baroque cathedrals and churches. What’s so special about this place? It’s the nearest point, from which you can see clearly Italy. Additionally, you can try the well-known granita (ice). When I heard about Messina, it reminded me my favorite film “The Kingdom of Heaven”, where the French crusaders were departing to Jerusalem.
It was a great Italian traveling. I was in Sicily for one week and spent this time very active and tasty. If you think where to go next summer (2020), choose the island pearl of Italy and enjoy sunny days full of beauty and adventures.