Ionian Coast

The Etna snow covered crater

Sicily Ionian Coast, with its three main centres – Messina, Catania and Taormina – can be considered the most developed Sicilian area not only from a tourist point of view. Indeed, Messina and above all Catania are important trade and business centres bearing economic developments standing out from the rest of the Island.

This area hosts important tourist destinations that cannot be missed while visiting Sicily: Mt. Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe, the renowned town of Taormina and all wonderful places in the surroundings attract a lot of visitors every year. Fascinating views, buildings made of lava stone, beautiful vineyards and wonderful bays and beaches can be admired while visiting this part of the Island. On the background, Mt. Etna is not passing unobserved while the coast boasts fantastic views of its summit. With its immense Natural Park, its panoramas and its puffs of smoke coming out from the peak, the volcano is not only a unique and suggestive attraction, but also a dominant element that has strongly influenced this territory for centuries, at times giving wealth and fertility, at times destroying impetuously. The looming and constant presence of Mt. Etna can be perceived even visiting Catania, the “black city”, rebuilt with lava stone after Mt. Etna eruption in 1669. Here, people carry the heritage of centuries of generations living under Etna power, fully enjoying their life, because no one knows what Mt. Etna reserves for their future.

Sights at a glance

Messina

The position of this ancient city, founded by colonists from Messenia in Greece, has always been the key to its importance. Situated between the eastern and western Mediterranean, and between the two viceroyalties of Naples and Sicily, Messina has always been influenced by its role as a meeting point. Over the centuries it has been populated by Armenians, Arabs, Jews and other communities from the large maritime cities of Europe, becoming increasingly important up to the anti-Spanish revolt of 1674-78, after which the city fell into decline. Already damaged by the 1783 earthquake, Messina was almost totally razed in 1908.

We suggest to visit:

Duomo

Orion Fountain

Astronomical Clock Tower

The University

La Marina

Peloritani Mountains

Santissima Annunziata dei Catalani

Monument to Jhon of Austria

Acquario Comunale

Forte San Salvatore

Museo Regionale

Santa Maria di Mili

Taormina

Dominated by Siculans, Greeks, Romans and Byzantines, Taormina was an important powerful city and a trade centre as well as the favourite summer residence for upper-classes. Settled on one of Monte Tauro hills, about 200 meters above sea level, the town is a very popular tourist destination. It overlooks the Ionian Coast and is surrounded by beautiful coasts, luxuriant vegetation and the suggestive Peloritan Mountains. The town boasts even splendid views of Mount Etna top.

We suggest to visit:

Corso Umberto I

Palazzo Corvaja

The Greek Theatre

Villa Comunale

The Cathedral

Palazzo dei Duchi di Santo Stefano

Castel Mola

Capo Taormina

Letojanni

Giardini Naxos

Le Gole dell’Alcantara

Mazzarò

Isola Bella

Acireale

Acireale lies along the Ionian Coast on a lava terrace. It is famous for its Thermal Spa and sulphur waters coming from Mount Etna, whose healthy properties were well-known and appreciated even in ancient times by the Greeks and later by the Romans.
Acireale is the largest town on the eastern side of Mount Etna and has been destroyed time and again by eruptions and earthquakes.
It was finally rebuilt after the 1693 earthquake, emerging as a jewel of Sicilian Baroque architecture.

Catania

Cradle of music and theatre, Catania is an ancient, medieval and baroque city situated on the Ionian Coast on the slopes of the suggestive Mount Etna, one of the most active volcanoes in the world.

This city is considered a symbol of revival: it was more than once destroyed by conquerors, flooded with lava or shaken by earthquakes – most radically in 1693, when it was razed to the ground – but it was always rebuilt with great courage and tenacity.

The city hosts a lot of monuments and buildings in a wonderful Baroque style – most of them declared UNESCO World Heritage sites. Its beautiful Roman theatre, amphitheatre and Roman Thermae surely worth a visit.

We suggest to visit:

Palazzo Biscari

Piazza Duomo

The Cathedral

Sant’Agata Abbey

Teatro Bellini

Roman Theatre

Castello Ursino

Home and Museum of Giovanni Verga

San Nicolò L’Arena

Via Etnea

Museo Civico Belliniano

The Fish Market

Via Cruciferi

Mount Etna and surroundings

Mount Etna is fundamental to Sicily’s nature and landscape. The Italian writer Leonardo Sciascia called it “a huge house cat, which purrs quietly and awakens every so often”. Etna is Europe’s largest active volcano and dominates the whole eastern Sicily. Feared and loved, Etna is snow and fire, lush vegetation and black lava. Around the crater you can still see the remnants of numbers of ancient vents. Further down is the eerie, barren landscape of the Valle del Bove.

To better enjoy the magnificent of the Etna, make a trip around it by the Circumetnea railway, the picturesque carriages of the Ferrovia climb up the slopes of Mount Etna and cross along a suggestive landscape of black lava and lush vegetation.

This delightful route will take you back to the dawn of tourism, when the pace of travel was much slower than today.

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2 Responses to “Ionian Coast”

  1. Nguyn scrive:

    Thank you for a great post.

  2. Roger scrive:

    i came across this article and just wanted to say it was a great read. Great blog!! I love all the info provided. I will stay tuned :)

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