So much has already been said and written about Sicily and its rich cultural, artistic and historical heritage that one need only mention the famous 5th Century B.C. Greco-Roman monuments in the Valley of the Temples of Agrigento, or the Temple of Segesta and the Greek Amphitheatre in Taormina, the Baroque Medieval towns of the Val di Noto in the South- and the wonderful unparalleled beauty of natural havens like the Parks of Nebrodi, Madonie, the Zingaro nature reserve, or the Alcantara Gorge and the exotic and unique nature habitat of Etna- and every enthusiastic traveller or globe-trotter will immediately recognize the names of these important and protected UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the contributions Sicily has made to the preservation of antiquity and its ancient splendour (in all its forms).
Start your trip in Catania, landing at the Fontanarossa Airport (the central route of arrival for tourists), and spend your first day in this wonderful cosmopolitan centre of activity. Enjoy a promenade through the local fish market and down the narrow streets of the old centre and Via Etnea in Piazza Duomo- lined with Baroque buildings, shops and confectioneries-, view the Elephant fountain (symbol of the city itself, dating back to the ancient Roman era), the Cathedral and the Chapel of St. Agata, or relax in the Villa Bellini gardens (70,000 sq m of bridges, gardens, fountains and piazzas).
Rent a car for hire – since it is best way to see everything around the island at your own pace without having to rely on the crowded public transportation system- and reach the slopes of Mt. Etna, lined with old churches and monuments built of sedimentary lava rocks.
Reach the summit where you can hike along the sulphurous craters with guided tours (make sure you wear boots and don’t forget to bring along your wind-jackets) and enjoy the most spectacular views of the coast with the beaches of Taormina and the scenic natural splendour of the Madonie mountains inland. In the winter the ski slopes of Etna are an extremely unique thrill to experience, thanks also to the vast diversity of its rich natural habitat which is truly unparalleled.
Drive to Taormina which is a short distance away and take a boat ride around the Isola Bella Bay, filled with incredible natural formations and colourful coral reefs and caves, bathe in the warm Mediterranean sun and swim in one of the best beaches of Sicily. Another wonderful idea to make your stay more local-oriented is finding a vacation rental that you can book straight from the owners. Regarding the accommodation during your holidays to Sicily, many online resources like Wishsicily.com can help you to find a local villa on the island at a very budget-friendly price.
You can also head inland to enjoy the fresh, clean air of the Mountains of Madonie or Nebrodi and view the rare species of flora and fauna- all endemic to the region- while pick-nicking on the grass to the relaxing sound of chirping birds and the scent of orchards, citrus and Palm trees among others.
For absolute solitude and a quiet atmosphere, the Zingaro nature reserve with its pristine beach (located West of Palermo near Castellammare del Golfo) is indeed a haven almost empty of tourists and inhabited only by the local fauna, rare flowers and plants (650 different species). Precipitous rocky cliffs tower over its pebbly beach-line which extends for 7 kms along the coast. It is also Sicily’s first protected reserve, established in 1981, and one of the most scenic spots in the whole of Sicily.
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