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Sicily in Winter: Etna, Taormina and Savoca

Catania, Etna, Savoca, Taormina,

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Trekking Holidays in Sicily in wintertime – Etna, Taormina and Savoca – Nature and Culture

Sicily is known for being the land of the sun and the sea, a “must” as a summer holiday destination because of its wonderful beaches. But visiting Sicily in winter is an unique experience: with its Mediterranean vegetation and dense forests and woods, its greenness in winter makes it a great destination for anyone who wants to get back to nature.
In addition, snow-covered Etna provides us with sights that are not possible to find elsewhere. The mountain and the sea merge together in one picture of warm and cold colours. And we need hardly mention that there’s the chance to visit charming towns without the crowds of the summer season.
Our accompanied trekking holidays take us high up on Etna so that we can enjoy the majesty of the snow-capped volcano, then down to the medieval town of Savoca, and finally to the sea where we discover Taormina and Catania and their natural and architectural beauties.
We’ll go at a relaxed pace on this holiday, to allow you to truly experience these places and get more than just a quick taste of them. Perfect for trekkers, and for those who want to enjoy both nature and culture.
Three days of Trekking on Etna, amongst enchanted woods and black lava flows
We will be based on the northern slopes of Etna, discovering the Monti Sartorius and their striking woods of white birch trees. Our panoramic itinerary will take us through barren land, volcanic “bombs” and splashes of green, and up close to the “bottoniera” or line of craters which was created in 1865.
Along this trek there is sparse vegetation, which is timidly trying to grow back in the area and which becomes thicker as we enter the magical woods. The smells and sounds of the mountain accompany us along our slow and pleasant exploration of the land, in a trekking experience during which we can admire the power of the volcano and at the same time the stillness of the flora around it.
Our second day of trekking on Etna will give us completely different sensations: our trip to Piano Provenzana will show us all too clearly how destructive and destroying an extraordinary eruption like that of 2002 can be. Other stops on our journey discovering Etna’s natural treasures will be the Grotta dei Lamponi and the Grotta Schadlish, which, with their spell-binding tunnels, will give us an evocative trek.

Taormina, Savoca and Catania – jewels waiting to be discovered

After three days of trekking on Etna, and keen to see further wonders, we head towards the delightful towns of Taormina and Savoca.
The natural and architectural beauty, panoramic viewpoints and the food and wine of these towns all create a big welcome for visitors.
A trip in wintertime is the best way to appreciate these places, which are usually overrun by tourists. Thanks to the pleasant Mediterranean climate, we can explore these beautiful towns and their treasures in complete tranquillity and fully enjoy what they have to offer.
Finally, we spend a day in Catania, to relax and enjoy the beauty of its Baroque heritage.

Discover the accompanied  Trekking Holiday “Sicily in Winter:  Etna, Taormina and Savoca”

A guided trip for trekking enthusiasts and for those who want to visit art heritage cities.  A perfect mix of nature and culture, this trip has been designed to show you the best Sicily has to offer!

Day 1 – Catania

Catania – a city to discover

Arrival at Catania airport and meet your guide at your hotel.

Depending on your arrival time, you will have the chance to visit this city on your own, to see its characteristic buildings made of lava stone and the wonderful historic city centre with its Baroque architecture.  In addition, Catania boasts great night life, so spend a pleasant evening here.

Dinner in a restaurant and overnight stay in your hotel.

 

Day 2 – Northern Etna

Monti Sartorius, Northern Etna: snow-white birch trees and breathtaking views

Breakfast in your hotel and departure for Etna.  Arrival at our chalet.

Our trekking holiday starts on the northern side of Etna, one of the most beautiful areas for its landscape and its geology, together with its striking flora and fascinating craters.  These include the craters of Monti Sartorius, which owe their name to one of the first scientists who tried to record the volcanic phenomena of Etna.  These seven craters, which were formed following the eruption of 1865, create a desolate “bottoniera”, or line of craters, where it is possible to see that vegetation is trying to grow back on the area which was covered by the lava flow.

The landscape of Etna will give us an authentic sensation of wonder when we see the volcanic activity vents and very visible pyroclastic material, which make the eruption of over a century ago seem still vivid.

We will also walk through a flourishing white birch tree wood.  Betulla aetnensis is a particular species, which can only be seen in this area: its white colour gives the landscape a Nordic feel, in sharp contrast with the view of the Ionian Sea which stretches over to Calabria.

Return to our chalet for dinner and overnight stay.

Time 4 hours 30 m
Altitude difference : +300/-300

Day 3 - Piano Provenzana and the Grotta dei Lamponi

Piano Provenzana and the Grotta dei Lamponi: the power of the volcano

Breakfast at our chalet.

Our trek today is to Piano Provenzana, an area which includes the most important ski station on Etna’s northern slope, and which in 2002 suffered the violent force of the volcano in an eruption which was the worst in recent decades.

The eruption and connected earthquake destroyed most of the area and created a huge fissure which we will walk along in order to see the craters formed along it.  From here we will head to Timparossa to join the track that leads to the Grotta dei Lamponi (Raspberry Cave)

This lava flow cave with its evocative tunnels takes its name from the flourishing raspberry bushes around its entrance and is one of the most fascinating stops on Etna’s north slope.  In the cave we can experience not only the sensation of finding ourselves inside a volcano but also the magic of a place forged by time and nature.

After the cave, we will walk through one of the beautiful pinewoods following the path that eventually leads back to our chalet. We stop in this corner of paradise to eat our packed lunch, with nature all around us.

Return to the chalet for dinner and overnight stay.

Day 4 – Case Pirao and Grotta Schadlish

Case Pirao and Grotta Schadlish:  among “hornitos” and beechwoods

Breakfast in our chalet and transfer by minibus to Case Pirao, in the area around Randazzo.

The fourth day of our trekking holiday on Etna starts here.  We will walk towards Monte Spagnolo along a path bordered by enormous beech woods, an amazing example of wild and unspoilt nature.

In this area we will have the opportunity to admire various “hornitos”,  cones created by the lava flow of 1981, also known as the Randazzo eruption,  because of the serious threat that the eruption posed to this town situated on Etna’s slopes.

We will reach Grotta Schadlish, the latest tunnel to be discovered on Etna. Abbout 112 m long and created by lava flow, it was only discovered in 2000. From here we will walk on towards the delightful Monte Santa Maria Refuge built of lava stone, where we will eat our packed lunches.

Return by minibus to our chalet.  Dinner and overnight stay.

Day 5 - Taormina

Taormina: a pearl suspended between the sky and the sea

Breakfast in our chalet and transfer by minibus to Taormina.

Check-in to our hotel and free time to visit this town during a day dedicated to pure relaxation.  Taormina, pearl of the Mediterranean, charms the visitor with its harmonious fusion of sky and sea.

While strolling through the streets of this medieval town you will be able to admire its rich architecture.  Arriving in  Piazza IX Aprile  with its panoramic viewpoint, you will be able to see Etna, the Bay of Naxos and the Greek Theatre all within one glance. And when you visit the Greek Theatre, you will be setting foot in a part of Greek history, and will be able to enjoy its spectacular view.

Light lunch in a restaurant.

You will be free in the afternoon to continue discovering the little streets of this town, and to enjoy other delights such as a walk in the green of the Villa Communale (park) which offers another stunning view, or a visit to the famous Isola Bella beach.

Dinner in a restaurant and oversight stay in our hotel.

Day 6 - Savoca and Taormina

Savoca and Taormina:  discovering Sicilian towns

After breakfast, we leave Taormina and head to Savoca. This town with its medieval art and Saracen origins offers not only a wealth of religious and other buildings but also a number of panoramic viewpoints which have earned it the name of the “town with seven faces”, coined by the writer Sciascia.  Savoca is also listed among the “most beautiful towns in Italy” and was the setting for scenes in the award-winning film “The Godfather”.

The town, situated on a rocky hillside and surrounded by sweet-smelling orange and lemon groves as well as flourishing vineyards and olive groves,  is not to be missed if you want to discover the ancient and authentic side of Sicilian country life.  In addition, its great influence in the Norman era gives it important historical worth, together with its medieval vestiges, and  Renaissance and Baroque architecture.

A visit to the Capuchin Convent  is a must, both for its numerous works of art of historical and cultural value, and for its crypt, in which are preserved the mummified bodies of local aristocrats.

Lunch in a restaurant, after which we will make a stop at Bar Vitelli, famous as a setting for one of the scenes in the flim “The Godfather”.

Return to Taormina, dinner in a restaurant and overnight stay in our hotel.

Day 7 - Catania

Catania:  buildings in lava stone and Baroque architecture

Breakfast in our hotel and transfer by private minibus to Catania. Check-in to our hotel.

With a qualified guide, we will visit the city centre to discover the artistic and cultural heritage of this city at Etna’s feet. Catania’s historic city centre, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, is an authentic expression of Sicilian Baroque and boasts many buildings constructed in black lava stone.

Piazza Duomo with its stunning fountains, the Fontana dell’Elefante and the Fontana dell’Amenano, as well as the Cathedral of Saint Agatha, is without doubt the true centre of this city and cannot be missed if you are in Catania.

After lunch in a restaurant, you are free to visit the city and enjoy the monuments that most interest you.  Don’t forget to taste some Sicilian gastronomic delights, such as arancini (made with rice) and granite (crushed ice drinks).

You are free to have dinner where you choose.  Overnight stay in hotel.

Catania Airport

Catania Airport

Transfer to the airport and end of our trip.

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