Brooding Mount Etna forms a dramatic backdrop to your discoveries as you revel in Roman history and uncover medieval treasures.
The largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily is well worth a visit, and if you only had 24 hours there, here are our tips for a great day out.
If you fancy a spot of breakfast before a day of sightseeing in Taormina, why not indulge in granita, a Sicilian speciality. At breakfast this semi-frozen treat is served with a buttery brioche roll, perfect for dunking. Later, you might want to stop off in a café and indulge in another delicacy, cannoli – deep-fried pastry tubes filled with sweetened ricotta. Taormina is one of the island’s most picturesque towns, set on a rocky hillside overlooking two sweeping bays. The Greco Roman theatre here is a great place to wander, soaking up centuries of history and some of the best views on the island as you go. Erected around the 3rd century BC to host dramatic performances, then transformed into a Roman gladiatorial arena, it is remarkably well preserved. Mainly built in brick, it’s thought that the Romans rebuilt the theatre over the original Greek foundation, and in its heyday, it could seat up to 5,000 excitable spectators.
As you explore the amphitheatre you’ll see Mount Etna looming large in the distance, and with this still-active volcano just a short drive away from Taormina, that’s the place to head this afternoon. You can ascend via cable car for breathtaking views of not only this lunar landscape but the whole of the island. There’s also an option to take a tour by 4x4 vehicle with an expert guide telling you all about Europe’s highest and most active volcano.
Come evening, seek out a trattoria in a hidden courtyard and sit beneath a lemon tree sipping a glass of Nerello Mascalese, a ruby-red wine produced in the fertile foothills of Mount Etna. As well as plentiful seafood, the menu is sure to feature arancini – deep-fried, breaded rice balls filled with meat or cheese and caper pesto. Try caponata, slow-cooked vegetables with olives, raisins and pine nuts, or the traditional dish pasta alla Norma. Its ingredients – tomatoes, basil, aubergine and ricotta – are wonderfully simple, but combine into a triumph of Mediterranean flavours!