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Towns and places of interest

Ragusa - Siracusa - Catania -Etna - Taormina 

Daily trips from Catania by public transportation

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              Catania                                      The Fishmarket 
A walk in Catania.

If you drive to Catania, then, park your car at Parcheggio in via Luigi Rizzo, 32 nearby Bruno Euronics. You are right in the historical market of A fera o' luni (the Mondays market, open every day).

From there, here is the walk I recommend:

The Roman Amphitheater under piazza Stesicoro ( free entrance within 12.30 am). Barocco walk across Via Crociferi - Via San Giuliano - Piazza Dante (Monastery) - Via teatro greco. Castello Ursino onto Piazza Federico II° di Svevia (just walk around it and see the original walls covered by 15 meters lava front, that pushed the sea two kilometers south).

Piazza Currò is a must. Enter my favourite place (Youth Hostel with Amenano river under the bar basement).

The fishmarket  (not on Sundays), Piazza Duomo and Prestipino Pasticceria Bar (two thumbs up!)

Up to Via Etnea: Piazza Università. Not far away, Piazza Teatro Massimo with its spectacular Opera House (ask for the director, he is a nice guy, to just take a look inside the Theather, you will be amazed by its beauty).

Piazza Teatro Massimo is famous for its night movida Catanese - Via Etnea and villa Bellini - Via Pacini.

Back to your car.

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Siracusa
It was founded in 733 BC. and it was one of the most important cities of the ancient Greek world and Roman empire.           Visit the archeological park, the catacombs the small island of Ortigia, the Cathedral and the Arethusa fountain. 

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Taormina/Isola Bella 
On top of a mountain with a Greek amphitheater overlooking the Ionian sea and the volcano Etna, Taormina is built with local stones. Narrow streets, terraces and balconies with boungavillea, jasmines, glycines, lemon trees, make it a unique romantic destination.

Do not go to Taormina by train, go by bus.
In fact, the train leaves you in Taormina/Giardini Naxos Station, alond SS. 114. Isola Bella is 2 Kms away and taxis would love to overcharge you about € 40 to take you to Isola Bella.

Catch EtnaTrasporti busline from Catania Bus Terminal in Via D'Amico (few blocks away from the train station):

 http://www.etnatrasporti.it/Orarietariffe.aspx?locPartenza=1833&locArrivo=0(7155&DataPartenza=19/04/2014 

Once you are in Taormina Bus Terminal, follow the crowd and walk up to the city center through PORTA MESSINA, then Corso Umberto. 

At piazza Duomo, in front of the City Town Hall, you can drink off a little fountain with a horse. At Cristina's, located down the little street you access from that square, you can have Sicilian tipical food.

 After visiting the Greek Theater, on your way back to the bus terminal, a funicular/gondola takes you downhill (the round ticket is cheap). From there, walk along the street up to via nazionale (leave the sea on your left) up the little slope at the end of which a fusset and a staircase show your steps down to Isola Bella. 

Taormina and Isola Bella by car

Siracusa/Catania direction Messina, exit in Giardini Naxos. Drive along the gulf of Giardini Naxos and pass the first Taormina exit/Hospital (do not take it). 

Continue to drive for about one kilometer and  pass Taormina/Giardini Train Station on your left, continue to drive for about 1.8 kilometer, another Taormina Exit in front of a runabout and Hotel Capo Taormina, do not take it.

About 600 meters just passed the tunnel, you will see Isola Bella on your right. You can stop along the street for some beautiful pictures. Continue for about three kilometers, at this point, turn on your left direction to Taormina. 

Now you have 3 options where to park your car:

1) Parcheggio Lumbi + free shuttle bus combi
2) Free parking with 600 meters walk
3) Parcheggio Porta Catania 

Option 1) -  Parcheggio Lumbi
Parc your car at Parcheggio Lumbi and wait for local free shuttel bus (every 15 minutes, they say).

Option 2) Free parking with walk
Leave the Parcheggio Lumbi on your right, TURN INTO THE LEFT and drive up for about 1KM, immediately before the service station turn left to SIGN "PISCINA COMUNALE" all the way down, park your car on your right side of the narrow street where the archs are. Walk up to the city , leave a car parc on your left side, up the steps , about 600 meters, then enter PORTA MESSINA.

Option 3) Parcheggio Porta Catania
on your way up, leave Parcheggio Lumbi on your right side and go through the tunnel. On exit, follow indication for Parcheggio "P" Porta Catania.
This parking is located right next to Taormina entrance (facing Catania side).
The ticket office is right outside the parking onto the little square where the palm trees are.

I recommend this last  parking for those who have kids or do not like walking too much.


agrigentoAgrigento 
Suggestions for ‘Valle di Templi’

Greek symhols of the Hellenic era, the archeological site has two beautiful temples and ruins of an ancient civilization partially still buried under old olive and almond trees and almond.

When arriving at the Agrigento Terminal it’s easy to catch a bus to ‘Valle de Templi’.

Go to the far end of the Terminal and you’ll see the ticket stand for ‘OmniBus’. They will sell you a ticket for about €€1.30 (you can buy a return ticket for €€ 2.60) and then get on the Bus (I took the No. 2) that is waiting right in front of the ticket stand. The buses leave every 10 minutes.

It’s a quick ride, about 5 or 8 minutes, down the hill to the ‘Valle de Templi’ stop.

First, if you don’t have a map of the site you might want to purchase one, it costs €1, from the book stand that is right at the bus stop. Otherwise, I was told you could get the map for free from the Tourist Information in Agrigento Centre, before you take the bus to ‘Valle de Templi’. It was just easier for me to buy the map rather than walk around the City to find the Tourist Information.

At the ‘Valle di Templi’ I advise that you first visit the ruins right at the Bus Stop. The Giardino della Kolymbetra. It’s a good warm-up before crossing the street and then going up to the Temples.

Then, after twenty minutes or so at the Giardino della Kolymbetra  go across the street, walk up to the ticket stand and purchase your entry. It’s €€10. You can pay and extra € €3.5 at this time to visit the museum, but why bother. If you’ve still got energy to go the museum after visiting all the Temples, you can buy the ticket at that time. You’ve got to walk almost a kilometer from the starting point back up the hill in order to get to the museum. Just pay € €10.

You don’t need a guide to get around the Temples, the signs tell you quite a bit. But, you can also listen in to other tours if you like. Start at Temple de Eracle (Hercules), then walk up the hill past Alex Hardcastle’s house. It’s worth looking in to see what exhibt is being shown at the  Hardcastle house.

Then, take a side trip to your left to look at the Necropoli Paleocristiana before coming back across the Percorso a piedi to take in the Templi Concordia. Then, the long walk up to Templi Giunone.

You have to walk back to the ticket stand in order to catch the bus back up to Agrigento. Now, if you still have energy, you can walk the 800 meters back up the hill to the museo. You can catch the bus back into Agrigento Centre outside the museum as well.

Acicastello and Acitrezza 

Acitrezza’s territory is one of the world’s most  important places when it comes down to geology. The Lachea island, the Faraglioni of the Cyclops, the columnar basalts and the lava pillows are the result of Etna’s first eruption, which occurred in this area approximately five hundred thousand years ago. The cooling down of the magma within the clay allowed it to take the particular shape of the hexagonal basalt columns that can be found on the Faraglioni and the little harbour.  

Nice to do: boatmen arrange  the pick-up of tourists who want to spend  few hours on the Lachea island and the Faraglioni (Cost € 5 round ticket).

Eating in Acitrezza. 

Personally, I often have dinner at LACHEA Restaurant (Piazza Giovanni Verga, 1) on three floors with a large terrace overlooking the three little faraglioni islands. Prices are cheap and fish is fresh. Try antipasti (appetizers) and they will serve you about 12 different kind of appetizers (marinated fish, clams, shrimps, mussels...) . If you go there, tell "mi manda Giuseppe and they will give you the best table on the terrace ever and special treatment.

 

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Boating entusiasts

The type of tourists I imagine to propose this itinerary are people over 45 years of age, boating entusiasts, and couples with young children.

Some educational activities are also included in my itinerary, which is focused on the landscape and specific places and historical tour.

                                                                                                                      The Sea, Earth and Fire route is not a traditional touring itinerary. It is aimed at a discerning tourists who wants to learn about local Sicilian traditions, the beauties of the natural sceneries, scents, sounds and colours.


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Colours like the crystal blue sea of Riposto with its' art nouveau and neo-classical buildings or 'the shouts of fishermen and freshly caught fish, wrapped tight in hay colored paper.

The tourists will be intrigued by the hard daily life of a typical Sicilian family of the last century. This description on the exhibition halls of the Museum of Traditions of Etna People, show locals engaged in the perpetual, pastoral cycle of wine and oil production.

A few kilometers further, the Chestnut Tree of One Hundred Horses, probably one of the biggest and longest-living tree in Europe and its legends, and Mt. Etna with its magnificence breathtaking landscapes. It is the highest active volcano in Europe.



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How to get to Etna
Etna south and north side

By bus

Unfortunately, there is only one AST bus leaving Catania Stazione Centrale to Nicolosi Etna South side, at 08.15 am (platform on the runabout) Round tickets are sold at BAR TERMINAL next to the Pharmacy (be sure to have small changes ready).

The bus leaves Etna at 16.00, so, you are stuck there for several hours. There are two craters you can see. 

One crater is  for families with kids and it is next to a restaurant. The other one is very steep and you need trekking or sneakers.            Bring warm clothes with you as it is often cold and windy. 

By car, better solution

From Siracusa/Catania motorway to Messina, exit leading Gravina/Etna (South side). Follow directions to Nicolosi, then Etna (Rifugio Sapienza).

You can park for free along the street before the restaurant Ai Crateri Silvestri. Next to it, there is one crater for families with kids and right in front of it, another one for brave climbers.

Do not take any funicular or gondola or 4x4 cart (the ride costs about €56€ per person) and the view from 2.300 meters is preatty much the same from 1900 m where you are. Plus, they will not allow to walk to the crater unless you hire a private tourist guide.

You can drive to Etna North by continuing driving and heading to Zafferana Etnea, Piedimonte. On your way back you can follow directions to Fiumefreddo, Giardini Naxos, then Taormina.

Special organized trips

Leave Catania by train, to Calatabiano, where my local references  will drive you to visit to XIX° Kiln, Alcantara Gorges, wine tasting and Taormina.
Come back from Taormina to Catania by bus. Price € 65,00 per person half day or €110,00 all day with wine tasting and Sicilian ham and cheese.

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Useful Information to visit Alcantara Gorges for free
Just next to the private organized facility to the Gorges, 
a public path leads you downstairs to the canion, is on the main street..
        
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