The Best of Sicily in a Week

The great thing about this wonderful ancient island of the Mediterranean is that it is a spectacular monument to the historical heritage of the classical era, and as such it allows visitors to traverse the various historical epochs where early civilizations have left an indelible mark. The cross-cultural fusion of architectural styles and artistic treasures dating to the age of the Greeks, Romans, Arabs and Spanish- including Northern European and African influences- is what gives Sicily its special character because its diverse historical legacy and folklore provide an uninterrupted continuum that gives visitors the chance to experience the important transitions between the various historical periods. November especially is a great month to spend your holidays in Sicily because during this season the climate is still perfect ( the highs are 18° C in daytime and 10°C at night-time), and there are fewer tourists around. This means less traffic- especially for a coast-to-coast road trip-, less crowds as well as cheaper accommodations at all the best spots with greater availability. It also means that you will have more time to visit some of the most important locations and enjoy all the sights if planning a short 1 week trip to the island.

Start with your arrival in the major city of Catania (Fontanarossa Airport) in the Eastern coastline, where mysterious Mt. Etna towers majestically overlooking the best resort locations of Taormina, the beaches of Giardini Naxos, Messina and the beautiful seaside town of Acireale. After checking in at your motel or B&B of your choice- or even at a plush and luxurious traditional Sicilian Villa by the beaches in the vicinity of Catania (like Acireale which is only 17 km away, or the popular and romantic town of Taormina- 53 Km), on your first day you can relax in Catania at a cafè in the elegant Via Etna boulevard and enjoy a granita (ice drink), and take a walking tour among the wonderful Roman and Baroque monuments that line the streets, making your way to Piazza Duomo to see the Cathedral and discover the rustic atmosphere and traditional flavour of the specialties in the Fish Market.  Spend the next day at the ancient 13th Century Norman castle, Castello Ursino- which also hosts important cultural events and art exhibits featuring the likes of Marc Chagall and Pablo Picasso among many others.

From there you can head down the coast to the South to see beautiful Syracuse- 55 kms from Catania- with its rich Greek heritage and historically important being the hometown of the famous inventor and mathematician Archimedes. Check out its wonderful Neapolis Park, the Greek theatre and Roman Amphitheatre and don’t miss out on the ancient Ear of Dionysus Cave, made of limestone and used by the kings to spy on the enemies. With the medieval baroque towns of the Val di Noto in the vicinity you can take the opportunity to feast on the gastronomic specialties of Modica and Ragusa and admire the Vendicari Nature Reserve with its exotic protected fauna. Then head back up to the Northeast coast to enjoy the splendid orchard gardens of Taormina and its Greco-Roman Amphitheatre with the backdrop of fuming Etna. Head up to the Rifugio Sapienza (South Etna) and from there you can reach the highest craters to enjoy the unique scenery of the coast and the mainland.

The last 2 days of your stay must be reserved for a special coast to coast trip to the Agrigento coast in the West, which has the best beaches in Sicily and you can still swim since the weather and water are still warm well through November – lifeguards are also still around in that period. Take your time to walk around and explore the legendary Valley of the Temples filled with Greek and Roman ruins and temples (the Temple of Concord is renowned as the best preserved Temple in the whole of the Mediterranean). Agrigento is easily reached from Catania -as your main point of reference- within a 2 hr drive.