Sicily is one of the most amazing places on earth. The history and culture make it full of places to see and things to learn. And that is beside the fact of how good the food is. You'll want to visit just for that alone!
Here are 5 places along the eastern coastline of Sicily that you must visit during your stay on this beautiful island. All of the photos in the article are my own.
Messina is the third largest city on the island of Sicily. Located on the northeast tip of the island it is known as the gateway to Sicily. It was founded by Greek colonists in the 8th century BC. In Messina, you will find wonderful beaches, lovely churches, and some of the best Sicilian food. The granita (especially from “Il Tedesco), and the arancini are the best on all the island (in my opinion of course). Make sure you visit the Duomo in Messina which has the world's largest mechanical and astronomical clock in the world (or as I like to call it, a Cuckoo Clock).
Going south from Messina along the eastern shores or Sicily you will come upon a quaint city by the name of Taormina. It is midway between the cities of Messina and Catania. It is most famous for its beautiful beaches and its ‘Isola Bella’ (Beautiful island). It was founded in 734 BC by the Greeks.
Taormina has become a very popular tourist destination over the last century. There are many fine dining restaurants to eat at, old churches to visit, and there is even the old citadel on the very top of the hill. Another one of the main sites in the city is the ancient Greek theater, the Teatro Greco. It is the second largest of its kind in Sicily and is still used today for theater and opera performances. From the theater, you can see our next stop, Mount Etna, an active volcano.
To read more about the theatre, go to my article:
Travel Italy: The Greek Theatre of Taormina
3. Mount Etna
Mount Etna is an active volcano on the eastern coast of Sicily. It is the tallest active volcano in Europe at 3,329 meters (10, 922 feet). It is considered one of the most active volcanoes in the world. On the volcano itself, you can go for guided tours, ride the ski lift part way up, and visit the many gift shops with different items made from the volcanic rock itself. It is very interesting to walk on and see what a volcano is like. You can then look down and see quite a magnificent panorama of the sea and the city of Catania.
Catania is one of the largest cities in all of Italy.
Dating back to the 8th century BC, Catania is a place full of history and culture. During the renaissance period, Catania was one of the most important political, artistic, and cultural centers in all of Italy. If you are in love with Italian food, Catania is the place for you to be. The street vendors here are said to be the best in the south.
The symbol of the city is “u Liotru”, or the Fontana dell”Elefante (The Elephant Fountain). It is located in Piazza Duomo. Catania has numerous ancient Greek and Roman buildings from churches, amphitheaters, castles, and much more.
Syracusa (Syracuse) is originally Greek city that dates back to around 800 BC. It was once known as “the greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all” and equaled Athens in size during the 5th century BC. Syracusa now is full of ancient monuments that one can visit.
The Greek amphitheater is one of these amazing places. It is the largest in Sicily and is still used today for live performances. There is a temple of Zeus located just outside the city as well. There are many churches, a castle, beautiful piazzas and fountains to see while in Syracusa. And since you are still in Sicily, the food is always delicious!
You can take trains from most parts of Italy to Messina and start your journey along the eastern coastline there, or fly into the airport in Catania and start in the south-eastern part of the island.
All of Sicily is absolutely breathtaking and a place I would suggest to all to visit. I was fortunate enough to have been able to see a lot of the island while living in Messina. But there are many places I still want to make it to on my next trip there!
Taormina is a small city on the eastern shoreline of Sicily. It is known for its great beaches, delicious food, churches, and the famous Greek Amphitheater or 'Teatro Greco'.
This ancient Greek theater was built in the third century BC. It is made mostly of brick which makes historians think that is was built during the Roman times but in the style of the Greeks. Some think that the theater was just rebuilt by the Romans on top of an older Greek theater underneath.
It is the second largest theater of its kind with a diameter of 120 meters (390 ft). The only one larger is a few hundred kilometers south of Taormina in Siracusa. The greater part of the original seats are no longer there, but newer seats have been put in to make the theater useable. The theater is thought to have been able to seat 5,400 spectators in its prime.
Live performances are put on at the theater each year. Some of these events include The Taormina Film Festival, the International Plectrum Orchestra Festival, the opera Nabucco by Giuseppe Verdi, and the list goes on.
From the theater, you can see the bay in front of Giardini Naxos which has wonderful beaches and is always full of boats. You can also see the volcano, Mount Etna. One can explore above and behind the theater where you can get an amazing panorama of the shoreline going north along eastern Sicily. On a clear day, you can even see the mainland, Calabria.
There is a small entrance fee to just explore the theater but it is well worth the price! Make Taormina a stop on your trip to Sicily!
To read about other places in Sicily, check out my article:
5 Breathtaking Places on Sicily's Eastern Coastline
While I was in Florence a few years ago we only had a few days to see as much as possible. To see the most of the city we tried to find the best viewpoint. We decided to climb to the top of Giotto's Bell Tower right beside the Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore. We were not disappointed with the view from the top. It was breathtaking. The staircase going up was very skinny, which meant people had to wait for people going the opposite direction. We went early after it opened so we only had to wait for a couple people coming down. Like everything in tourist-heavy cities, you have to pay to go up, but it was definitely worth it.
The tower itself stands 84.7 meters (277.9 ft) high. There are seven bells inside the tower ranging from 75 cm in diameter to 2 metres in diameter. Construction was started on July 19, 1334, and it was completed in 1359. There are 414 steps to climb to get to the top.
Here are some photos from inside the bell tower and from on top!
If you have ever been to Rome, you know there is way too much to see and do. There are amazing popular places such as the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, Piazza del Popolo, Castel Sant'Angelo, Vatican Museums, the Roman Forum, and so much more. But I think out of all of Rome, my favourite place is atop the Cupola (dome) of the Vatican!
What better way to spend time in Rome than being able to see most of these places from one spot!
For only 5 euros one can walk up the hundreds of stairs to the very top of the Vatican. The neat thing about this spot is that you are literally above everything else in Rome. It is illegal in Rome to build a building that it taller than the Vatican, so from this vantage point, you can see everything. You can see St. Peters Square, the Colosseum, the Vittoriano, Castel Sant'Angleo, and so much more.
While walking up you will also get a great view of the inside of the vatican from a higher perspective.
Here are some photos from on top!
The region of Puglia (Apulia in English, but I will refer to it as Puglia from here on out) is full of so many hidden gems that so many tourists do not know about because they are so focused on seeing Rome, Florence, Venice, etc. Those are amazing places to visit too but down in the south these areas are less touristy which means you will get a more authentic Italian experience. Puglia has some of the most beautiful beaches, and the Italians have done a good job at keeping that fact from many tourists. I lived in Puglia for almost a year and was able to visit many of these places only because the locals told us about them. Here is a list of 5 of these places. However, there are so many more places that I can not fit them all into one post!
Here we go with five.
Literally translated that is "Beautiful Tree". It is a town of about 10,000 inhabitants and is most famous for its unique homes and buildings known as Trulli. These are the white buildings with the cone top you can see in the pictures. When farmers were settling here they found an abundance of calcareous sedimentary material which they ended up using for Mortar. Businesses, lodging, and restaurants now use many of the Trulli in central Alberobello, but there are still many residents who live in these amazing homes. They are built in such a way that the thick stone keeps warm air in during the winter time, and cool air in during the summer time.
Also known as "The White City", Ostuni is a city that dates back to the stone age. All of the old town has been painted in white. It is quite magnificent to walk around in. During the winter it has around 30,000 inhabitants but during the summer it can have up to 100,000. It boasts many restaurants that serve freshly caught fish from the nearby sea.
Castel del Monte
Castel del Monte is a 13th-century citadel and castle built on a hill in Andria. It was built by Emperor Fredrick II after he inherited some land from his mother Constance of Sicily. It has an interesting octagonal shape to it, making it easy to spot and defending enemies from any direction. It even served as a prison at one time as well. From on top of the castle one can see a very long distance.
Taranto Vecchia (Historic Taranto)
Old Taranto is another amazing sight to see. It is situated on an island with only two bridges leading to it. It boasts a large cathedral, an Aragon castle, and other ancient ruins from a Greek Acropolis. Taranto itself is known as the Spartan City because it was founded by Sparta in 706 B.C. With its rich history, delicious food from the sea, and scenic old town, Taranto is a must.
Known as the "Florence of the South". Lecce is a city full of beautiful churches in the Baroque style which give it that nickname. Its history dates back thousands of years just like many other cities in the area and was originally settled by the Greeks, namely Cretans. Some of the main sites include Piazza del Duomo (featured above), a greek amphitheatre, and the Church of the Holy Cross which has animals, vegetables, and other grotesque figures lining the front facade. Lecce is beautiful at every turn.
So here are just five places that are beautiful sites to see in Puglia. I hope you get the chance one day to experience them all firsthand!
Hey all, Brian here. Welcome to my travel blog. I have had experience traveling around Canada and in Italy so those will be my main topics of interest here. If you ever want to know more about a place, just send me a message and I'll write to you personally about it as well as make a more in depth blog post! Thanks for reading and go travel the world!