On this trip to Sicily, we visited the east side – Catania, Taormina, Syracuse, and probably the most famous; Mount Etna.
We found that the east part of the island offered lots of diversity – beaches, vineyards, mountains, volcanos, Baroque art and ancient ruins, all in one place. (For more on the west coast – check out our previous post Sicilian Sun)
Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. It’s in an almost constant state of activity and is the second largest volcano in the the European–North-African region.
We spent one day hiking up the side of Etna. In retrospect, it wasn’t safe – and probably not allowed. We came 30 meters from the lava that was spewing out and then cooling into rock.
We later found out that hiking Etna in the spring is the most dangerous season because that’s when the lava can touch the snow, boil the water underneath, and create an explosion. However, it was amazing to see… once.
We found that Sicilian wines can be hit or miss, as many of them are marketed to an international audience, based solely on the fact that they are produced in Sicily. Unfortunately, many were quantity over quality, however, we found that if you look hard enough, and talk with enough locals, you’ll find the hidden gems of Sicilian wine.
On our last day, we were determined to visit the vineyard of one of our favorite Etna wines: Valcerasa. The vineyard is slopped on the north side of Etna, where the vines grow in volcanic rock, but at the same time, catch a sea breeze from the Mediterranean. We found this producer by chance, as it’s not a commercial or an international mass producer.
I have to say this was one of the most amazing vineyards I’ve ever seen. Truly unique just like the wine.
Gente di Mare – Acitrezza (near Catania)
This restaurant is a no-frills fish eatery, and serves up only local, freshly caught fish. You need to be in the mood to try different flavours – but you won’t find a more authentic place than this for a fairly cheap price (30 to 40 € each).
Da Nino – Letojanni (near Taormina)
Pricey, but worth it. This restaurant is famously known among Sicilians. Great quality and selection of Mediterranean fish, as well as a luxe atmosphere on the seaside. Prices range from 50 to 100 € each.
Taberna Sveva – Ortigia, Syracuse
The best pasta alla norma EVER! Hands down. A bit outside the touristy strip, but good food and good wine.
Etna Quota 1000 – near Randazzo on the north side of the volcano
Focusing on Sicily’s mountain cuisine – this restaurant has a great (and cheap) vino sfuso – you can order by the glass or litre. We recommend the tasting appetizer. The salume is also uh-maz-ing.
More photos from our trip to the east coast of Sicily
Taormina and Letojanni