Northeast Sicily trip planner

The cities, sights, and attractions of Northeastern Sicily

The ever-popular resort of Taormina - Sicily's most famous resort town remains an enchanting corner of the island despite the tourist hordes. It's a jasmine-scented ridgetop escape that marries the drama of a Greek colony established here in 403 BC, a medieval air of Sicilian palazzi and tiny churches, and the modestly hedonistic atmosphere of a latter-day resort village that draws famed names and package tours alike. It sticks the lot together with liberal amounts of bougainvillea, seascape vistas, and a laid-back take on life... » more

★★ Low-key resort town of Cefalù - I prefer Cefalù to touristy, crowded Taormina. Hemmed in between a towering headland of a mountain and a naturally sheltered harbor, Cefalù is a small, orderly city and a relaxing place to unwind. It has no cars in the historic center, a friendly passeggiata, some of Sicily's best Byzantine mosaics, and a sweeping curve of fine beach that has recently attracted some modest resort hotels and expanded the city westward. The 5th-century BC Greeks left a few vases for the museum, and Roger II and his Normans gave the town a mighty cathedral that draws the tourists and gives us a viable excuse for cooling our heels here for a day or two... » more

Mt. Etna - Mt. Etna is the biggest, baddest volcano in Europe and one of the largest in the world, 10,990 feet of massive molten energy that dominates eastern Sicily like a Earth-borne storm cloud. The Greeks believed that the mighty god Hephaestus (Vulcan) used it as a forge to fashion Zeus' thunderbolts with the aid of his Cyclops assistants, and that the eruptions and earthquakes were caused by the Titan Enceladus imprisoned at the mountain's root, eternally struggling to break free. Etna's summit constantly smokes, and every few years it goes into a volcanic fit... » more

The Aeolian Islands - This chain seven volcanic Aeolian, or Lipari, Islands strung out in the Thyrrhenian sea was home to some of Sicily's earliest Paleolithic and Bronze Age cultures—the isle of Lipari has a great archeology museum—but it was the colonizing Greeks who dubbed them after Aeolus, god of the winds, who stored his gusts in their caves. The fantastic geologic forms, whitewashed houses, excellent fresh fish, spectacular active vulcanism (Vulcano is a natural spa; Stromboli still erupts many times a day), and clear azure waters have made these islands one of Italy's favorite resorts (especially chic Panarea)... » more

Catania - There's really no compelling reason to spend time in Catania. It has been around since the Sikel days, and did time as a Greek and a Roman provincial capital, but today it's a big industrial city of few charms. However, passing through Catania is often the easiest way to get from point A to point B in eastern Sicily (and several low-cost airlines fly in to the Catania airport, which is far more convenient than Palermo for getting to Siracusa or Taormina), and there are some sights to keep you occupied if you find yourself stuck in town or routing yourself through... » more

Messina - Sicily's primary port and third largest city doesn't offer many attractions aside from succulent swordfish dinners and a pair of Caravaggios in the Museo Regionale. But unless you fly in or take a ferry straight to Palermo, Messina will be your introduction to the island, as it is where trains and ferries from Reggio Calabria on the Italian mainland arrive in Sicily... » more

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