SICILY – ENGLISH VERSION

SICILIA

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Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea; along with surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, and it is officially referred to as Regione Siciliana (Sicilian Region).

Sicily is located in the central Mediterranean. It extends from the tip of the Apennine peninsula, from which it is separated only by the narrow Strait of Messina, towards the North African coast. Its most prominent landmark is Mount Etna, which, at 3,350 m, is the tallest active volcano in Europe and one of the most active in the world. The island has a typical Mediterranean climate.

Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature, cuisine and architecture. It also holds importance for archeological and ancient sites such as Valley of the Temples in Agrigento. Sicily has a roughly triangular shape, which earned it the name Trinacria.

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Three sides and three seas. Because of that you are going to see three-legged as symbol of the region.

Frommers give you a free online recommendations:

http://www.frommers.com/destinations/sicily/, from there we made our map, actually we started from Messina, but I going to explain each step.

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So we arrived in Rome city, and from there we took a high speed train to Reggio Calabria, the toe of the boot. It was something around 6 hours (long trip), but from train you can see everything of Italian coast. Look for trains at http://www.trenitalia.com  freccias are high speed.

Strait of Messina divides Reggio Calabria from Sicily. From there you take a boat and arrive to Messina. So from here we started our round trip. There we rented our car (to return in Palermo).

SO MUCH attention with taxis there! They are really crafty, know exactly where are you going, distance, way, to not be confused.

Sicily offers such a wealth of sights and places to see that narrowing down your choices can be difficult. I will show what I’ve done. Very closely that Frommers suggest in 2 weeks tour.

Messina is one of the three leg point. And if you want to go there is called Tore Faro, we went by road Panoramica dello Stretto, really beautiful. We combined in one day with city tour. Go to Santuario del Montalto, with panoramic view of all Messina.

The next day we went to port of Milazzo to take a cruise until Aeolian Islands.

We went by TARNAV. http://www.minicrociere.tarnav.it/minicruises/

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The Aeolian Islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea, to the northeast of mainland Sicily exhibit a volcanic complex including Stromboli. Currently active also are the three volcanoes of Vulcano, Vulcanello and Lipari, usually dormant. The classic cruise usually stops at Lipari and Vulcano. At Volcano you have 3 hours to do a trekking up Volcano.

The next day we left early to arrive in Taormina (just one hour by A18), definitely the most beautiful city of Sicily and of sure the most expansive too. We stayed in one of the best places there: Grand Timeo Hotel. They have of sure the best view of the city, and also a transfer which takes you up its private beach in the other hotel of chain: Villa Sant’Andrea. We had lunch there and went to the beach with all services included. To return we took the cable car, in front of this hotel who left us at Corso Umberto in Porta Messina, the main street of commerce. You can go walking until Porta Catania, passing through piazza IX Aprile (amazing!) and Piazza Duomo.

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Next to Grand Timeo there is the Teatro Grego, one of the best known monuments of Sicily. Was built in roman age, from there you can see the Giardini Naxos and Etna.

The 4rd day we went to Etna Mount, fundamental part of the landscape and nature, biggest volcano from Europe. Is defined as a huge house cat that purr quietly and occasionally wakes. On the way we stopped at Zafferana Etnea in a winery there to have lunch Tenuta San Michele, and to see the volcanic eruptions from 1992. We went until Valle del Bove and there you can see the different strains from the volcano. Prepare a jacket because upon the hill is quite cold, there is a difference of about 20 degrees.

We slept in Catania where we do just a quick city tour, also a very beautiful city. And went to Noto and Siracuse.

Noto is city heritage of humanity. After an earthquake of 1693, Noto has turned into a huge construction site. Architect like Rosario Gagliardi, Vicenzo Sinatra and Antonio Mazza remade Noto in a baroque city with amazing palaces and churches.

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Next stop: Siracuse and Ortigia. With the other Teatro Greco, Ara di Ierone and l’Orecchio di Dionisio il parco archeologico has several arches which were taken from the calcareous rocks of construction of the city. For centuries the galleries were prisons. One of the most imposing is the Orecchio di Dionisio.

At Ortigia you can find the Tempio di Apollo and the Baroque Duomo of Siracuse in all white rocks that on sunny days shines before your eyes.

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Leaving Siracuse we return to Catania to take the road A19 passing for Enna (in Enna there is an outlet with Dolce Gabbana and others Italians brands!!). Arriving in Agrigento you already see from far away the Valley of Temples.

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Valley of Temples known especially for its value as a witness of the civilization of the Magna Greece, also houses the remains of Christian civilization .There is so much to see, so take the necessary time. Do not miss seeing: Museo Archeologico, Tempio della Concordia e Tempio di Giunone. The next day we went to my favorite destination throughout the tour: La Scala dei Turchi, is a rock face (crag) which rises above the sea along the coast of Realmonte , near Porto Empedocle.

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The scale consists of marl, a sedimentary rock of limestone and clay, with a distinctive pure white color. This unique aspect of the cliff stands in the middle between two sandy beaches, and access must proceed along the coast and climb a slope resembling a large natural staircase of limestone. Once you reach the top of the cliff, the visible landscape embraces the coast of Agrigento to Capo Rossello, else tied to the deeds of Montalbano. The scale of the Turks has a wavy shape and irregular, with no harsh lines but sweet and rounded. The name comes from the past of piracy raids by the Saracens, Arab nations and, by convention, Turkish pirates, in fact, found shelter in this area less windswept and representing a safer landing. From there we went to nordoccidentale part finishing the tour.

The first city was Castellamare del Golfo in Tireno sea, has been a location for various films, with beautiful beaches. After there we went to Cefalú, medieval city, at the foot of a rocky promontory. It is one of the major tourist attractions in the region. Despite its size, every year it attracts millions of tourists from all parts of Sicily and also, from all over Italy and Europe. In summer the population can triple, making the main streets and major roads in the country crowded. There is then a youthful atmosphere and a lively nightlife. Of Greek foundation, the city evidently derived its name from its situation on a lofty and precipitous rock, forming a bold headland projecting into the sea.The main tourist point is the Duomo, and also Cefalu was scenario of the film Cinema Paradiso.

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To end our script Palermo and Duomo di Monreale.

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Duomo di Monreale was the apex of Arab-Norman. Founded in 1174 by Guglielmo II, was flanked by a Benedictine monaster . Enclosed by two massive towers linked by an elegant portico, is famous for its sumptuous interior, with golden mosaics representing episodes from the Old Testament. The cloister of the monastery has Arab arches decorated with geometric designs, 228 white marble columns culminate in capitals that tell biblical episodes. Enjoy because Sicily is a cheap destination compared to rest of the Mediterranean sea, and its beaches are so good, if not better than rest. Summer is the best season, but try to avoid the month of August.

Restaurants

I recommend one restaurant in Cefalu, the Scoglio Ubriaco. Via Carlo Ortolani di Bordonaro, 2-4. One local take us there and it was really great! The name says that the rocks it’s drunken, because sometimes the rock appears and sometimes disappears through the waves. With an incredible visual provides a more pleasant meal.

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In Agrigento Trattoria dei Templi ,Via Panoramica valle dei Templi 15.

Hotels

The hotels in Taormina are the best in Sicily. All price ranges are available, with accommodations ranging from army cots to sumptuous suites. If you’re driving to a hotel at the top of Taormina, call ahead to see what arrangements can be made for your car. Ask for exact driving directions as well as instructions on where to park—the narrow, winding, one-way streets can be bewildering once you get here.

The best place to stay in the Siracusa area is on Ortigia. The island has far more character and charm than “mainland” Siracusa. However, the countryside near Siracusa is an increasingly popular zone for villa rentals, which are a great way to enjoy this region, especially if you are traveling with kids or other couples. The feverish restoration work on historic buildings all over Ortigia has also resulted in a surfeit of short-term holiday lets and B&Bs with lots of character.

Choose your hotel carefully in Palermo. Safe, central locations are an important consideration in this town. Luckily, even the ritziest hotels in Palermo will cost you about 50% less than the same standard of accommodations in Rome or Florence.

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