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Italy, Sicily – Catania, Etna, Taormina

Published: 8.8.2016
The second largest town on Sicily is situated on the slopes of Europe’s highest active volcano, Mount Etna. You can get to Sicily by plane easily. Count with a transfer in Rome or Naples. Perhaps you will be lucky and find a cheap direct flight. Buses ride from the airport to the city center. However, mind that locals don’t know much English. Therefore, take a dictionary with you. And be careful when arriving at night. In the district next to the city center there are high rates of criminality. They will warn you about this at your hotel.

The town of Catania was founded by Greeks as early as the 8th century B.C. Travel agencies show customers a famous photo of the town and its long sand beach with Etna volcano in the background. This should lure people in yet don't be fooled. You can hardly see the volcano if ever. The best view is from a plane.

the view of Catania from a plane

Catania is a town of beautiful architecture and great food. Yet there is one permanent problem - garbage. Beaches are especially hit by this problem. There are sand beaches and stone beaches. However, public beaches will hardly bring you into idyllic vacational mood. Garbage is everywhere - on the beach and in the water. Locals seem to not be disturbed by this fact. Yet we just splashed our legs in the water and then decided to leave public beaches for good. At a private beache you pay around 7 euros to enter (12 euros on average). It is worth it and the difference is vast.

nobody does anything with garbage in the streets

mírnější ukážka z veřejné pláže v Catanii soukromá pláž v Catanii

While bit annyoed by local beaches, we decided to rent a car for a day. It is quite expensive and ad leaflets don't show real prices. Moreover, about 300 euros is going to be freezed on your bank account. The money was returned ten days after our vacation. The thing you have to prepare yourselves to experience is Sicilian traffic. There is no car on this island which would have not scratches. Scooters with up to three people try to get through the traffic. Drivers ignore basic rules. Be careful. You pay for every scratch. After horrible ride we reache the famous village of Taormina. There are beautiful and clean beaches (even the public one), perfect food, and you get amazing view from local amphitheater over the surroundings maybe of even Mount Etna.

na prohlídce amfiteátru

St Agatha cathedral is sure a place worthy a visit at Catania. The others are Fontana dell'Elefante (made of lava stone - lava stone was used for other parts of the city such as pavement etc.). Both these sights are on Piazza dell Duomo.

St Agatha cathedral byzantský hrad Castello Ursino

Castello Ursino, a Byzantine castle sees small festivals to happen in front of it from time to time.  What we loved the most was the vista of Mount Etna. We hired a guide. It was nice, talkative Sicilian. He picked us up in his jeep at our hotel and then wer set off to the volcano (the price is 47 euro per person). His talk about the volcano was fascinating. Environment was wonderful and we experienced deligthful tasting of local specialites – not much to add to it. In case you decide to visit Catania then a trip to Mount Etna is a must.

view of Etna

going to craters walking around craters

the crater of Etna

To sum up my visit of Sicilly I can recommend you to find accommodation in Taormina (prices are higher though), or in the nortwest of the island. Go to Catania for a one day trip only.

Taormina – public beach Taormina – private beach

GPS: (Etna) 37°45'06.1"N 14°59'36.3"E

Text and photos: Veronika Schubertová



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