Welcome to Ionian Coast
The Ionian Coast is studded with enough Sicilian icons to fill a souvenir tea towel. It’s here that you’ll find the skinny Strait of Messina, mighty Mt Etna and the world’s most spectacularly located ancient Greek theatre. Catania is the region's centre, a shabby, swinging city packed with students, bars and nightlife. Its black-and-white baroque is World Heritage–listed, while its hyperactive fish market is one of... Read More
Top experiences in Ionian Coast
Ionian Coast activities
Mount Etna Day Trip from Taormina
Start your day trip by boarding your air-conditioned coach in central Taormina, and then relax on the 1-hour journey inland to Mount Etna, the island’s brooding – and spectacular – nemesis. Set in the middle of a national park, Europe’s highest active volcano dominates the Sicilian landscape around it.Hop out of your coach at the base station Rifugio Sapienza, and then enjoy roughly three hours at leisure to trek independently around the foothills of Mount Etna. The area is covered with hiking trails that zigzag in all directions, and your host will happily point you in the right direction for the Monti Silvestri Craters – two small, yet impressive, craters near the base station. If you want lunch before or after your hike, visit Rifugio Sapienza’s restaurant. Food and drinks are at your own expense, but the restaurant offers a good selection of hot and cold snacks.Eager to visit Mount Etna upper crater? Upgrade to skip the three hours of independent time and head to approximately 3,000 meters height with an alpine guide, instead. Ascent by cable car up to 2,500 meters and continuing on board jeeps up to the authorized crater zones at approximately 3,000 meters with the assistance of licensed guides of the CAI (Italian Alpine Club); stop to admire the eventual activity of the summit craters in a safety zones according to weather conditions.Then, return to Taormina in the comfort of your air-conditioned coach. Your day trip finishes with a drop-off at the start point.
Sicilian Cooking Class in Taormina
Meet your host, a professional local chef, near Porta Messina in the historical center of Taormina, and start your cooking experience with a stroll to the open market. Sicilians – like all Italians – tend to shop for locally produced ingredients in markets, selecting simply whatever looks best. Follow their example, and help your host select the finest ingredients of the day to cook with.The market is near to the restaurant, a traditional Sicilian seafood restaurant, so walk there next, and head inside for your cooking class. Put on your apron as your host explains the dishes of the day and gives an introduction to the cuisine of Sicily. While the countryside’s soil tends to be more sun-baked than verdant, Sicily’s produce is lush, characterized by delights like ruby-red sun-ripened tomatoes, plump olives and fresh nuts. The seas around the island supply enough fish to satisfy an insatiable appetite for fresh seafood, and Sicilian desserts, like cannoli (pastry rolls of sweetened ricotta), are legendary. Help chop vegetables or prepare pasta for your course, and learn how to sear meat and fish to perfection. The menu changes for each cookery class, but you can expect dishes like Parmigiana di melanzane (baked eggplant, layered with tomato and Parmesan) or pasta al pesto di pistacchi – pasta with a pesto sauce made from pistachio nuts.After cooking your three courses, take a seat in the restaurant and savor your creations with samples of wine. The restaurant has a wide selection of both red and white wine, so let your host select different varieties to complement your food. The number of samples varies, but you can expect to try enough to constitute two glasses. Your cooking experience finishes after your meal and wine-tasting session. Before you leave, collect cooking certificate to take as a keepsake!
Valley of Temples, Villa Romana del Casale Tour
Meet your guide in the center of Taormina and set off on your journey to Agrigento, on Sicily’s sunny south coast. The city’s main claim to fame is the Valley of the Temples, a UNESCO-listed archeological site on a hill that’s home to ruins dating to 430 BC. After paying your entrance fees, head inside the site with your guide, and pick your way through the maze of awe-inspiring relics and ruins while learning about ancient Sicily.See the so-called temple of Castor and Pollux (not the temple, which is actually in Rome, but a composition of ruins devoted to the two Greek gods), as well as other countless highlights. Admire the Temple of Concord – a perfect example of a Classical monument – as well as the Temple of Juno, Temple of Jove and the oldest ruin, the Temple of Hercules.After optional lunch, (at own expense), and then travel inland to Piazza Armerina, to spend your afternoon at the town’s big-name attraction: Villa Romana del Casale. The ancient hunting lodge is home to one of the world’s largest collections of Roman mosaics that depict scenes from everyday life and mythological tales.Head inside at your own expense and explore its public rooms like the thermal baths, public hall, dining area and courtyard. Gaze in awe at the famous ‘bikini girls’ mosaic wall and listen to stories of the site’s history from your guide. Hear how the lodge was hidden after a 12th-century landslide before being discovered around seven centuries later. Its true magnificence was realized after later excavations and it was eventually given a well-deserved spot on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.After exploring the attraction, return to your coach and relax on your journey east to Taormina. Your day trip finishes back at the start point.
Aeolian Islands Day Trip: Stromboli and Panarea
Leave central Taormina by air-conditioned coach and relax on the 1-hour journey north to the Port of Milazzo, just west of Messina. Hop aboard a motorboat and speed through the waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea to Panarea in the Aeolian Archipelago, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.Small yet stunning, the island of Panarea is a picture-perfect delight boasting a tiny whitewashed village surrounded by pristine beaches. Enjoy some free time to explore, perhaps shopping in the village’s quaint stores or relaxing on the beaches. You can also use the time to enjoy lunch at a local cafe; ask your host for tips!Return to the port at the pre-arranged time and cruise across the water to Stromboli, an island named after its active volcano. Spend time at leisure in Stromboli village, admiring its black lava-sand beach and pretty houses decked with vibrant flowers. After watching the sun set over the steaming volcano, head back to port and enjoy a light dinner on board your boat.Then, it’s time for your evening’s highlight: a boat ride around the island to see Stromboli’s volcanic activity. Cruise until you reach a clear spot for viewing Sciara del Fuoco, where the most dramatic lava eruptions take place. Small eruptions and detonations occur frequently (usually around every half hour), so have your camera ready to capture bright explosions of liquid lava and rocks propelled into the air, against the backdrop of the night sky. After watching one of Sicily’s best natural fireworks displays, cruise back to the Port of Milazzo, and then return to central Taormina by coach.
Etna and Taormina Full-Day Tour from Catania
Our guide will pick you up from your hotel and, on the way up to Rifugio Sapienza (1920 mamsl), you will stop in certain view points. You will receive all the information you need about the history and the territory of the volcano and visit the sites of the last eruptions and the old Silvestri Craters.From Rifugio Sapienza, you will be able to choose if you wish to continue by doing some trekking in one of the nature paths of “Parco dell’Etna”, up to 2000 m, or if you wish to buy the Etna high altitude option. If you choose this option, you will reach 2504 meters by cable car and you will then continue with special 4x4 minibuses and arrive at Torre del Filosofo, (2900 meters). From here it will be possible to admire the great central crater, the South-East crater and the historical lava flows that characterize the landscape of Etna, in a scenery stretching right down to the sea. With the alpinist guides (which speak Italian and English), you will visit the places where the life of the volcano flourishes, in full safety. You will return to Rifugio Sapienza by minibus and cable car.You will then explore a lava cave with helmets and torches. Before heading towards Taormina, you will stop at a famous organic farm, in Zafferana, for a delicious sampling of honey, wine, oil and other typical products. On the way to Taormina, you will stop at the wonderful “Isola Bella”, a Wildlife Reserve considered the “pearl of the Ionian sea” for its natural beauty, where it will be possible to bathe in its marvelous crystal clear waters. After lunch (not included in the price) you will dedicate the afternoon to visiting the picturesque town of Taormina. Along the main road of this town, Corso Umberto, with the Messina Gate below and the Catania Gate on the mountain side, you will admire the most important monuments: Palazzo Corvaja (The Corvaja Palace) (Museum of Arts and Folk Traditions*), the Teatro Antico* (The Old Theatre), Piazza IX Aprile, the Torre dell’orologio (The Clock Tower), the Cattedrale Fortezza (The Fortress Cathedral), the Badia Vecchia (The Old Abbey), and the Palazzo Duca di Santo Stefano (The Duke of Saint Stephen Palace), and much more. It will also be possible to go shopping in the exclusive shops which alternate with workshops.
Gastronomic Street Food Tour of Catania
The walking tour offers you a historical overview of the city, of the alleys and the squares of the old town, whilst giving you the chance to sample some of its culinary delights.The tour starts at Piazza Duomo, a jewel of Sicilian Baroque and UNESCO heritage, where you will visit the Cathedral. From here you will head to the quaint fish market, better known as "la pescheria", where you can taste black pudding, "il sanguinaccio" (made from pig's blood) and "zuzzo" (meat jelly) all washed down with zibibbo (local aromatic wine).The city tour continues along via Crociferi, famous for its churches and its importance in the procession for the Festa of Sant'Agata, the patron saint of the city. Following, via Etnea, the main street of Catania, you will arrive at Piazza Stesicoro, home to the Roman amphitheatre excavated in the early twentieth century. A short stroll and you will reach the famous Bar Savia, which serves the best arancini in Catania, while at the Bakery Pacini the much-loved cipollina awaits you (a speciality of Catania made with puff pastry, tomato, onion, mozzarella and ham). Crossing "la fiera" - as is the local name for the biggest market of the city - you will arrive at the finest kiosk of Catania: the Chiosco Costa. Here you will taste the typical fizzy drink made from fresh Selz and syrups, all freshly prepared.Next stop the port, where a mixed plate of meat, horsemeat meatballs barbecued on hot coals, and the legendary cipollata (spring onions wrapped with bacon) all await you. Last but not least, the last stop of the Catania Street Food tour will be in Piazza Duomo, where you will taste the Sicilian "cassatelle", cannoli with ricotta and almond paste at the bakery ”I dolci di nonna Vincenza”.At the end of the tour you will be given a "gluttonous passport" to remind you of all the various street foods you tasted during your day in Catania.