By landing in Catania, your trip in the Eastern Sicily could perfectly start. Near the airport, there are lots of agencies where you can rent a car or whatever you need to drive from one place to another. Due to the long queues, I highly recommend you to book your means of transport well in advance.
Catania is a vibrant city and you suddenly feel this kind of Sicily folklore, which belongs to the city. Full of art and architecture, most of its buildings are old and abandoned, but with a special charm.
The main square, Piazza del Duomo, is full of bars, pubs and restaurants where to stop for an italian aperitivo; the main Cathedral and the town hall surround all the square. Behind the square, every morning, there is the central food market, full of stands with a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, meat and fresh fish. From the square, you bump into Via Etnea, the main shopping street and, at the end of it, Savia is waiting for you: for a street food lunch, the best arancini ever.
If you’re wine lovers, I suggest you visit Cantina Malopasso, a winery located at the foot of Etna: their wine tastings are delicious and the owner tells about his vineyard with deep passion. If you want, he could also send you his bottles of wine directly at home. Etna, as well, deserves of course a guided tour and, when you finish, you can stop for lunch at Terrazza sull’Etna bar: you will meet an old man, who is going to prepare you the best sandwich with sausage ever.
Taormina with its Isola Bella is one of the most romantic destinations of Sicily. It is located at the foot of Etna, such as Catania, and from the upper part of the town, the view is breathless.
Downtown, it is decorated with lots of antique decorations and flower pots. If you want to have a lovely meal, try Osteria Nero D’Avola (Piazza San Domenico). The staff is really friendly and you can really taste the freshness of fish.
Isola Bella is a must when you go to Taormina: the youngest could swim in the shallow sea, you could rent a canoe and/ or book a snorkeling experience. From downtown to Isola Bella (and vice versa) there is a cable railway that costs €3 each person and it will take you back and forth. If you want to stay in Taormina for one night, call Villa Almoezia Charming B&B: good value for money, clean and comfortable rooms, swimming pool with stunning view of Taormina sea and a delicious homemade breakfast.
Day Three:Soprano di Sindaro, Rodia (Messina) – for wine lovers, only
Soprano di Sindaro, before being a place, is a dream: near Messina, in Rodia town, uphill, there is this wonderful farmhouse where Aldo, with his family, runs his own business with vineyard, B&B service and wine tastings. With different types of grapes (Nerello Cappuccio, Nocera, Nero d’Avola e Sangiovese), his main production includes two red wines: CinqueRossi and 13 Faro Doc.
Once you get there, you are completely surrounded by beauty: the deep color of the blue sky contrasting with the blue of the Mediterranean Sea, the flourish of nature, the decorations outdoors and the cutest B&B ever seen. All made by family, by hand.
Four people with one dream, sixteenth years of hard work, 32.000 bottles of wine (until now) and half of an hectare dedicated to the wine. If you want to reward a small reality, please set your Google Maps on “Azienda Agricola Soprano di Sindaro – Rodia”, immerse yourself in nature, forget the phone and enjoy Bacco’s day. Perfect if you want to surprise your sweet half for a special occasion.
From April until October, the family organizes wine tastings: call them to book in advance, you will not regret neither the wine, nor the food, well prepared and cooked by Antonella and Paolo, Aldo’s parents. Aldo and Giorgia, brother and sister, will be there to make you completely dive in their genuine way of living.
Day Four:Siracusa & Ortigia
Siracusa is the modern part, Ortigia is the historical city center: it is one of the most beautiful cities of Sicily, full of history and archeological findings. When you walk in Ortigia, it makes you feel like living b.C., when the Greeks used to populate the territory. The Monumental Area of Neopolis is worth a visit: there is a ticket to enter (about €10/12 per person) and it will take you about two hours. Try to go in the early morning or in the late afternoon because of the heat: you should definitely go to visit the Greek Theater, Latomia del Paradiso, which is a huge limestone quarry; the Dionisio Ear and the Roman amphitheater. Ortigia is nice for wandering walks: when it’s dinner time, before going for a fish meal, try Cortile Verga, a cocktail bar, which also gives you something to eat and the cocktails will surprise you.
Marzamemi is a small fishing village, quite close to Noto,very picturesque. With its fresh colors, it seems to live in a fairy tale. It is surely one of the most beautiful borghi of Italy, it is also famous for the tuna fishery (very common in the south-east of Sicily), dating back to Arab times. Nowadays, it is not active anymore.
Marzamemi, from April to October, is full of tourism: its small squares and alleys are set up with tables for enjoying a very good fish meal.
I highly recommend you Il Principino restaurant which,in my opinion, is the less touristy.
Day Six,Seven and Eight:Val di Noto – Noto, Modica & Ragusa
If you think about Val di Noto, the first word that has to come to mind is baroque. You’ll be surrounded by baroque architecture.
In Noto, the church that you can’t miss it’s the St. Nicholas Cathedral and, to eat, I highly recommend you to go to Il Lybertino restaurant. Noto has one of the most suggestive historical city centers of Sicily; Corso Vittorio Emanuele is the elegant avenue, lined with splendid buildings and churches; it is particularly suggestive at sunset, when the whole avenue turns orange. The city that we can visit today dates back to XVIII century when Rosario Gagliardi, born in Noto, realized the majority of the palaces after a tragic earthquake that destroyed the ancient Noto (or Netum)
In Modica, you can’t miss Bonajuto, the most famous family in Italy that has produced chocolate since the XIX century.
Modica has its medieval center perched on the side of the hill and its UNESCO treasures are in different parts of the town: it is not so simple to orient yourself, you need to familiarize yourself with all the stairs that connect Modica Alta to Modica Bassa. In Modica Alta, you will be amazed by the stunning St. George Cathedral; in Modica Bassa, you can compare it with St.Peter Cathedral. Cappero is the cozy restaurant that I suggest to you: they make their own bread, by using mother yeast, and they give you their iconic entrée, a caper on cream of leeks.
In Ragusa, you can’t miss the stairs: it is a continuation up & down, a wonderful view and a nice park where you can have a nice walk in the early evening, at sunset.
Ragusa is one of the most splendid, clean and organized cities of Sicily and it has two faces: on the top of the hill, Ragusa Superiore, a frenetic, regular town. Further down, set in the hillside, Ragusa Ibla, the magnifique historical center of Ragusa, with its stairs, its alleys, its stone grey houses, its baroque palaces overlooking the squares.
After the earthquake, in 1693, Ragusa Superiore was erected in the plateau, which dominates the original settlement. However, the aristocratic class was reluctant to abandon the ancient fascinating buildings, so they built Ragusa Ibla in the same exact place. Here’s another masterpiece of Mr Gagliardi, St. George Cathedral in Piazza Duomo.
Day Nine and Ten:Portopalo di Capo Passero, Isola delle Correnti – The southernmost point of Italy
Isola delle Correnti is the southernmost point of Italy, further south of Tunisi (Tunisia). Get in the car, drive there through SP8 and enjoy an entire day sunbathing on its wild beaches. For a lunch snack and for an amazing sunset, Scialai comfort beach cafè will be your best mate for the day. Try grilled seafood and panelle, feeling like a native for one day: Sicily is a mixology of the Mediterranean sea, the genuine and freshness of food, the blue sky, the breeze of Scirocco wind and a continuous smile on everyone’s face.
And this is just the eastern part.