Travel | Winestyle

On Etna – Volcanic Vines

April 1, 2017
Christina and our guide andrea hiking on the lava at 2500 m height in etna

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.

The slopes on volcano etna

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.

The lava front on top of volcano etna

Solidified lava on the snow on etna volcano


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.

Valcerasa vineyards a wonderful and secluded paradaise in the north side of etna

The old houses in valcerasa vineyards used as wine cellars

An ancient wine making chamber at valcerasa wine producer


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).

Restaurant gente di mare in acitrezza

Mix of appetizers at the restaurant gente di mare acitrezza

Sicilian oranges with smoked red tuna

Spaghetti with local crab and shells at the restaurant gente di mare

Pesce luna or sunfish in salt crust


Luccio di mare or pike sea at the reataurant gente di mare in acitrezza catania

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.

Ricci di mare or sea urchins at restaurant nino in letojanni near taormina

Occhi di bue a sicilian shell that is extremely rare
Occhi di bue a sicilian shell that is extremely rare

Spaghetti with zoccoletta a local lobster at restaurant nino in letojanni near taormina

Milazzo classico a sicilian champagne made of nerello mascalese grapes

Taberna Sveva – Ortigia, Syracuse
The best pasta alla norma EVER! Hands down. A bit outside the touristy strip, but good food and good wine.

Best pasta alla norma in sicily

Bianco di nera milazzo

Sicilian octopus with tomato sauce

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.

Sicilian snails with herbs and tomato sauce

Handamade sicialin pasta with black pork from etna

Etna coffe

More photos from our trip to the east coast of Sicily


The cathedral of catania

Pasticceria savia in the center of catania the best cannoli and arancini of catania

The fish market of catania swordfish

Pesce sciabola or scabbard fish at the fish market in the center of catania

Syracuse, Ortigia

Main square view of syracuse ortigia

Ancient columns of the temple of athena incorporated into the cathedral of syracuse

Christina in central square of siracusa ortigia

Bizantine tumbs in the archeological site of syracuse

The ancient theatre of syracuse

The ear of dionisos in syracuse

Alleyways in ortigia siracusa

A crown from the reinaissance in the cathedral of syracuse

Skull and cross bones from 1826 in the cathedral of syracuse

Wild lemon trees

Spring yellow flowers in sicily

Taormina and Letojanni

Sicilian teste di moro ceramic heads

Local men in taormina

The scenic view of the volcano etna from the ancient theatre of taormina

The beach of letojanni near taormina

Gelato cassata and pistacchio in the old town of taormina at gelateria osciality

Sunset view of taormina from letojanni


Christina and francesco near the lava front of the eruption in march 2017 on etna volcano

Hiking at the top of volcano etna

Sicilian bodyguards