Sicily and the Province of Catania in particular - over time has always been a crossroads for peoples and civilizations which have left permanent traces of their existence. The territory boasts a variety of incredible scenery and natural attractions which are unique to the world.
Its coastline is approximately 1,000 km long. The Sicilian landscape is characterised by great movement; indeed the island is mountainous and hilly and has a single flat extension close to Catania.
The most important massif is Etna (its territory is entirely protected by a large natural park) located in the eastern part of Sicily. This volcano is active and is the largest in Europe (some 3,300 m high).
The climate is decidedly Mediterranean with hot summers and short mild winters. The islands little precipitation falls in the winter months from October through March. High temperatures are reached in July and August (26°C on average) and lows from December to February (10°-14°C on average).
If your trip to Sicily isnt for the sole purpose of going to the beach, then we recommend spring and autumn months from mid-April to mid-June and from September through October.
A holiday in Sicily is certainly an occasion to take a journey in the past. Visitors can choose from several fascinating historic-archaeological and natural excursions where they will discover Baroque Acireale, Taormina with its Alcantara Gorge, Siracusa with its Ortigia Island and Archaeological Park, Mount Etna with its Nature Reserve and Catania with the Riviera dei Ciclopi (Cyclops Riviera)
Acireale rises precisely at the foot of Mount Etna in the Province of Catania. Visitors to this renowned spa resort can enjoy the blue Ionian Sea to the east and a superb view of Mount Etna to the northwest.
It is the ideal holiday place for the entire family and home to the Santa Cristina spa complex equipped with modern equipment making this city the capital of wellbeing in addition to art, considering its rich architectural Baroque heritage.
One of the most famous beaches in Acireale is Mulino Beach located along a stretch of rocky coast known as Timpa in the seaside hamlet of Santa Maria la Scala. Visitors here can enjoy a small sandy beach and its blue crystal-clear water.
A peculiarity of the Province of Catania close to Acireale is precisely the Timpa (in local dialect, it means an elevation created by lava), the nature reserve comprising a sheer lava wall overlooking the sea. The entire area offers a truly natural view formed by a coastline comprising the tourist destination of Santa Maria la Scala overlooking the typical colours of the Ionian Sea.
A boat trip starting from the small towns of Capo Molini or Santa Maria la Scala is the best way to take in the magnificent views of the lava along this stretch of coastline. (For information: Azienda Autonoma Soggiorno e Cura Acireale - Tel. +39 095 604508).
Nearby is the ancient small seaside town of Aci Trezza, known more charmingly as the Cyclops Riviera. Today, the entire area is part of a beautiful nature reserve and a protected marine area home to many animal species, and a charming place for adults and children alike.
The entire area boasts an incredible natural heritage: the Etna Regional Nature Park (www.parcoetna.it). It is absolutely spectacular not only for the charming lava flows from this, the highest volcano in Europe, but also for its dense vegetation.
An excellent first educational tour to get to know the mountain is the Gurrida path; it is approximately 1.5 km long and is extremely easy to walk along, despite it being enriched with many peculiarities. The Park Agency offers guides for numerous tours.
Another nature reserve to discover is the integrated nature reserve and protected marina area of Lachea Island and the faraglioni dei Ciclopi (Cyclops stacks) (www.cutganambiente.it).
This small volcanic archipelago comprising Lachea Island and nearby Faraglione Grande, Faraglione Piccolo and the other four emerging basalt reefs (the so-called Cyclops) was formed when basalt-type magma came in contact with the sea water, thus creating the particular volcanic rocks characterising this area.
Since the beginning of time, this place has been connected with the legend of Ulysses and the Cyclops, those mythological giants with a single eye and protagonists of legends such as Acis and Galathea and of Ulysses and Polyphemus.
Those visiting the reserve can go snorkelling and diving while admiring the underwater nature and following archaeological itineraries.
Guided tours with special boats leave from the small marina of Aci Trezza.
Sicilian cuisine is strictly connected to the islands millenary history. As it is in the middle of the Mediterranean, its forte can only be fish served in all its assortments. However, typical dishes inland are based on meat (especially pork and mutton), pecorino or sheeps milk cheese, caciotta cheese and the famous fresh or baked ricotta cheese.
The forte in Catania is caponatina, a cold dish with peppers, aubergine and tomatoes, friend with onions, olives and celery. Maccheroni alla norma pasta is also quite characteristic. It is prepared with fresh tomato sauce, basil, slices of fried aubergine and a sprinkling of salty baked ricotta. Sarde a beccafico is a typical simple dish made with sardines stuffed with a mixture containing bread crumbs, onion, parsley, fresh caciocavallo cheese, salt and pepper and sprinkled with flour and then fried.
Local desserts deserve a separate chapter. Who hasnt heard of Sicilian cannoli filled with ricotta, or of the cassata cake, almond pastries and granita water ice!