6 unmissable places around east Sicily

We’re thrilled to announce our new flights to Comiso in Sicily starting Wednesday May 3rd from Birmingham. We’re sure you’ll agree that Sicily is such a great addition to our many routes.

The amount of wonders and attractions this island has to offer is second to no other region in Italy. Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea (followed by Sardinia and Cyprus) and has an unrivaled past, coming from a mix of cultures living here in the past centuries.

syracuse sicily aerial

Isola Bella in Taormina, Sicily

The Comiso region, in the South-East of the island, is perhaps the most Greek of all. Here the Greeks established themselves in 750 BC and named this land “Magna Graecia” (Great Greece). The Greek culture is visible everywhere, starting from Syracuse with its majestic open-air theatre and reaching its peak in Agrigento. It’s here you’ll find Valley of the Temples where you’d easily believe you’re walking among the ruins in Athens; a true must see in Sicily.

Our top recommendations for your Sicilian trip next summer

1. Ragusa Ibla and Modica

Ragusa Ibla and Modica is the ideal start to a trip in the east. In just a 40 minutes-drive from Comiso airport to Ragusa Ibla you’ll quickly find yourself immersed in an ancient baroque town. The cathedral as well as a variety of elegant buildings and endless narrow streets will delight your visit throughout. Don’t be surprised if you find many familiar views in Ragusa Ibla, many scenes from the famous BBC series “Inspector Montalbano” were shot here.

Ragusa Ibla, Sicily

Ragusa, Sicily

Continuing your drive south-east from Ragusa Ibla, you’ll encounter Modica, another stunning baroque town. There are two spectacular things about this town. The first one can be experienced by climbing the steps of the baroque church of San Pietro where you should only look back once you’ve reached the top of the stairs. Your heart will jump when you experience the view!

The second one is Modica’s famous chocolate. This chocolate is still made according to the original and ancient recipe which gives a special grainy texture to it. The recipe derives from the Aztec and was brought to Modica from the monks and Spaniards that returned from the Americas after their discovery. The Modican chocolate is sold in many shops around the town and it comes in endless different tastes. Our favourite? Certainly try the chili, but also Sicilian oranges skins, pistachio, Nero D’Avola wine, cinnamon, sea salt…basically all of them!

 

 

2. Syracuse and Ortigia

Syracuse is the largest city in the area, full of history and attractions that won’t fail to impress. We always like to start discovering a town from its Duomo (cathedral) and its main square as that’s where all the city’s streets start from and take you anywhere in town. Getting lost in these streets can only bring you to the next hidden corner where you’ll discover magic Sicilian bars. Find one you like and be sure to taste the local iced syrup called “granita”. There are so many flavours to choose from, ask the waiter to list the ones available on the day and just top them up with whipped cream where relevant! The unmissable attractions in Syracuse are its Greek Theatre, Ortigia and the old fish market.

 

Syracuse Cathedral

Syracuse Cathedral

 

Syracuse town centre, Sicily

Syracuse town centre, Sicily

 

Greek Theatre in Syracuse

 

Every summer, in the ancient Greek theatre, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, are held ancient Greek drama plays. This is such a suggestive scene, especially at sunset when the lights of the sky merge the ones of the stage while actors interpret famous Greek drama. The theatrical season generally starts in May, hence we fly you there just on time for the first shows!

You just can’t go to Syracuse without visiting the Island of Ortigia

The Island of Ortigia is connected to the mainland of Syracuse by a walkable bridge, but you can easily park your car in one of the island’s public parking spaces. The key attractions on the island are the Temple of Apollo, the Fountain of Arethusa, the Maniace castle perfect for stunning sunsets and the old market.

Syracuse Sicily

The coast of Ortigia island, Syracuse

Every day, except from Sundays and national holidays, the old city market takes place in the heart of Ortigia. A stroll in the market is a must if you want to discover the real soul of the city. It will feel like being in an Arabic souk but with a Sicilian twist. From fresh fruit to vegetables and cured meat to fresh fish, your eyes will be drawn in all directions attracted by the aromas and the vendors shouting about their best offers.

3. Stair of the Turks and Agrigento

We see many wonders that the nature’s elements have shaped around the world, but this particular one manages to amaze more than others – the Stair of the Turks. A combination of the wind and the sea carefully and beautifully crafted the white limestone rock into a staircase shape from which tourists and locals sunbathe and relax on a hot sunny day.

Scala dei Turchi - Stairs of the Turks - a rocky cliff on the coast of Realmonte

Scala dei Turchi – Stairs of the Turks – a rocky cliff on the coast of Realmonte

After a well-deserved morning full of sunshine and stunning sea views, a visit to the nearby Valley of the Temples is simply a must. This is probably the most impressive gift left by the Greeks in their Magna Graecia. As the name suggests, this archaeological site preserves very well seven temples built around the 5th century BC. Guided tours in English are available should you want to know everything about the Greek influence during that era.

Agrigento, Sicily. Temple of Castor and Pollux one of the greeks temple of Italy, Magna Graecia

Agrigento, Sicily. Temple of Castor and Pollux one of the greeks temple of Italy, Magna Graecia

Temple of Concordia. Valley of the Temples in Agrigento on Sicily, Italy

Temple of Concordia. Valley of the Temples in Agrigento in Sicily, Italy

Find flights to Comiso, Sicily

4. Her Majesty Etna and more

Did you know the east side of Sicily has a 3,300 meter high active volcano? Mt Etna overlooks the stunning and historical city of Catania. Its craters can be visited by cable car and special trucks that will drive you comfortably to the highest point. The view from the top is breath-taking, but make sure to wear the right gear for such a high altitude, it gets pretty chilly up there, even in summer.

Despite the fact that the volcano is active and erupts yearly or more, it’s very rarely a concern due to a naturally-formed valley (The Valley of the Ox) that collects any lava that erupts. Generally eruptions are a spectacular phenomenon which can be observed from many miles away.

Mt Etna

Mt Etna

Around Mount Etna there are a few unmissable spots that can enrich your day. The first one is Bronte, on the north-west side of Etna. If you like pistachio nuts, then this will be your favourite place in Sicily. When we go, we have to pay Caffetteria Luca a visit.

Circumnavigating the volcano clockwise is the Alcantara Gorge, a fresh river flowing in dramatic canyon made of black volcanic stone. This is a perfect excursion for the adventurous traveller but also for families as trekking here has several levels of difficulty.

Alcantara river gorge near Mt Etna

Alcantara river gorge near Mt Etna

Alcantara river, Sicily

Alcantara river along from the gorge, Sicily

5. Taormina

The most glamorous and extravagant town in Sicily; Taormina. Here La Dolce Vita can still be smelled in any outdoor bars and restaurants, squares, streets and terraces. All this topped up with the strategically positioned Greek theatre that offers a unique view on the below gulf and Mount Etna. It truly is magnificent.

Taormina Sicily

Taormina Sicily

A typical day in Taormina is spent strolling around the narrow streets, shopping and sipping a granita. Or relaxing with a glass of wine in a bar while practicing people-watching “hidden” behind your sunglasses. In summer, the streets get particularly busy in the afternoon when people return from the beach and gather here in preparation for sunset, dinner and a night show at the theatre.

Just outside Taormina are some of our favourite small places that certainly deserve a visit…

6. Castelmola and Isola Bella

Castelmola enjoys one the most beautiful views of this side of Sicily, overlooking Taormina and with some of the most traditional bars and squares.

For Isola Bella, its name says it all. The “Beautiful Island” is more of a peninsula, but with the tide it becomes a proper island. It offers two beaches, one on each side of the land strip, and hosts a natural reserve. Sunbathe here and expect to see glamorous yachts and sailing boats stopping by to enjoy a corner of paradise.

Isola Bella, Sicily

Isola Bella, Sicily

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