Sicily – THE 5 places to visit

After nearly 2 hours of choppy flight, plane doors opened and first breath told us that this is something different. Intoxicating air with citrus and pine tree scents heated up by 360 sunny days per year. We have landed in Catania and didn`t know what to expect while traveling to our final destination we could only see the glimpse of the city center and a little chaotic traffic.

After one hour drive, we finally checked in and unpacked our bags. A surprise was in store for us, dinner – 3 meals course and a sweet desert. We have tasted „Italian“ food before, but this was overwhelming- flavors were rich and intensive, combined with lovely textures and a beautiful desert in the end. Next morning, the explorers were awoken with burning desire to make the most of our 10 short days. First thing`s first, we explored our little piece of heaven.

This is our list of places that you should see if you are visiting Sicily:

  1. Taormina

Our spirits were still restless, and luckily above us was the hill with intriguing place standing like a sentinel and guarding the entire bay. It was Taormina. Yes, we had to go there immediately. Stop the bus, we are coming aboard – 2 express tickets please.

After 5 minutes uphill on scorching heat through the gate Porta Messina into the main street Corso Umberto, suddenly everything has changed and it struck us where we were. Black volcanic rock tiles neatly lying under our feet, colorful shops with everything you can think of – all Italian – leather, clothes, souvenirs, spices, perfumes, jewelry. Like all roads lead to Rome, here all short and narrow streets lead to Corso Umberto, just like in spring snow melts and all the little creeks unite to form a river. All the people were walking in the shade and it was surreal. We had to be more resilient because there was so much to see and so much to make timeless in a photo.

Taormina has become one of the world top tourist destinations where visitors can experience a perfect combination of old times charming atmosphere, preservation of history and culture, an elegant and lively way of life to be enjoyed in relaxing walks through the old town pedestrian areas.

Recently, movie-theater and music celebrities such as Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Federico Fellini, Cary Grant, Gregory Peck, Marcello Mastroianni, Elisabeth Taylor, Woody Allen- they all spent pleasant and memorable holidays in the Mediterranean pearl.

These photographs are from beautiful Taormina park….

  1. Teatro Greco

While we were roaming thru the streets of Taormina, we had found an interesting sign – “Teatro Greco”, so there was just one solution –  to go there.

As we entered the vast amphitheater, far from the crowd, we fell in love with the view. On the left side was the whole bay area, and on the right side was always active Mt.Etna.

“Teatro Greco” was built partly from the cave and it could host more than 5000 people.  In summer, it has used to stage international arts and film festivals, which you can see in our photographs. One of our favorite artist – Simply Red had a memorable performance back in 2003. We wish that we could go back in time to feel the vibe in person – because something magical happened that night.

Keep in mind that is very hard to write about centuries old monument which saw many rulers, many nations, and many eruptions.

  1. Castelmola

At sunset, far in the clouds, we could see some colorful lights and amazing fireworks. We asked some friendly locals about that place and they said that is called Castelmola.

Though Castelmola is only 2km from Taormina, it’s a steep climb and takes about 90 minutes. You might prefer to take a taxi up and do the walk back down, especially on hot summer day. It was a bumpy ride via windy road up to the mountain top.

We were amazed by the view, real birds eye perspective of endless cascades of fruit plant ages and vineyards. Short and narrow streets, abandoned houses, lunch time, homecooked food – smells like heaven, oh so Sicilian!!!

Stair, stairs and some more stairs, enjoy the view, take a photo, create a memory and remember it till an end of days.

The castle in Castlemola is a ruin. There is relatively little to see, it’s really worth making the climb for the views, rather than the castle itself. The village is built like a fortress, to protect the inhabitants against aggressors from the sea.

The little town has a surprisingly imposing Duomo, and several smaller churches.

Quick rest, famous pizza and cafe Fredo in the shade of the giant brake tree. We took some amazing pictures from piazza Duomo, which is our best impression of that little castle.

  1. Syracuse

Collision of the worlds, new and ancient and the one name that all world knows – Syracuse! Syracuse was about 130km from us but it was a trip worth taking, we will show you why.

From the prehistoric populations to the Corinthians who founded the Greek city, to the introduction of Baroque architecture, the history of Syracuse is an open book visible in every corner. Described by Cicero as “the greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all”, it equaled Athens in size during the fifth century BC. Most of the historical sites are located in the island of Ortygia where you can get easily lost in the atmosphere. Narrow streets, ancient ruins, whole history preserved in numerous beige buildings. Did you know that famous “Eureka!!!” was heard in Syracuse, the birthplace of the great Archimedes, one of the biggest scientists that ever lived!

There were so many things to see and the heat was relentless. Regardless of the heat, we saw photo opportunity in every corner of every street. The trick is the shade, like Nosferatu we were following the shade and tried to cool our heads. It was time for handmade, pistachio organic ice cream and the cafe fredo, we were ready for more. No stone was left unturned, it was once in the lifetime opportunity, so we had to get the most of it – as Our tripod and camera were working overtime.

Vespas, Vespas and some more Vespas – better watch out they are everywhere so we had to try it. But handsome as it is, the city is no museum piece − life goes on here much as it has for last 2500 years, as you’ll soon see from the snarling mid-morning rush hour and noisy markets. In the end, it’s not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away.

There are so many churches that is hard to explain, but yet every single one is unique in its own way with baroque elements and statues.  Since 2005, the entire city of Syracuse, along with the Necropolis of Pantalica which falls within the province of Syracuse, were listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Syracuse was like a thousand piece puzzle, so many streets, alleys and hidden treasures to explore. About three years ago we were just a two photography enthusiasts, with no experience, but this kind of “exotic” architecture and limited time bring out the best in You. We were on self-imposed hectic time table – see everything, while fighting with the elements in very short 10 days. Time is relative, this was a proof, our 10 days felt like 15 minutes with the perk of vast amount of beautiful memories.

  1. Etna

After a long bus ride, we finally came to Mt. Etna, from the beach and scorching 40C to freezing 15C with a wind. The scenery is unreal, black sand, black boulders, black everything and a reminder over our heads that this is an active volcano that can blow at any given second.

It is the tallest volcano in Europe which is currently 3,329 m high, though this varies with summit eruptions. It is nothing that we had seen before, strange and bizarre baron world, like some hostile alien planet. An interesting fact is that scientist have tested multiple space exploration rovers on Mt. Etna due to its ancient lava and extreme conditions. The best thing is that you can relax with your espresso and look at the peak of the volcano but at the same time behind you is a beautiful deep blue sea.

And for the end of our journey bonus photos from Catania 🙂

 

 

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8 Comments

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  1. I have been to Italy but not as far south as Sicily. Sounds like a really nice place to visit.
    Your pictures were really great, some I could imagine in “Travel & leisure” magazine. You got me dreaming again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would really recommend Sicily as a place for bucket list. Thank you for your positive feedback 🙂
      As our photos go we tried to promote them in countless places but with no luck 😦

      Liked by 1 person

      • My wishlist is pretty long already but I added Sicily. 🤗

        Shame about the pictures but in the end, it’s their loss. Keep traveling and keep taking photographs and post them, of course. There are plenty of people who will like them.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a very small part of Sicily, for my taste the opposite side of island is more beautiful 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely pictures and an article that makes me want to go asap!
    We’re travelling more towards the west so we’re excited to see what Cafalu, Palermo and the more rural areas have to offer.

    Keep on your great photography!

    Cheers, Dave from 2trvlrs.com

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What an amazing post and photography my dear friend! Sicily is already on my travel bucket list and seeing it through your eyes, makes me want to visit even more! This place is so full of wonderful landscapes and history! The wild beauty of Etna always captivates me! Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful weekend!
    xoxo
    Stella
    http://www.stellaasteria.com

    Like

  5. This is really well written! I love all of the history about the locations to supplement your stories in addition to your experiences there (especially that Eureka! was first said in Ortigia, and that space rovers are tested on Mt Etna!) I am headed to Sicily in 10 days and this has made me even more excited!!
    – Lily, @hungerlusttravel

    Like

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