East Coast Route in Sicily
At the end of the Italian boot, you can find the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea: Sicily. With a mix of Greek, Turkish and Italian cultures, you’ll easily stumble upon a historical temple, theatre or ruin after one another. The lively and attractive city of Catania has much to explore, but also the region and the caried coastline! Explore the fisherman’s villages, the one and only active volcano in Europe (Mount Etna), and the beautiful traditional cities such as Taormina and Syracuse. This one-week road trip route along the east coast of Sicily is perfect for those willing to find a harmony between relaxation and an active vacation.
- Route name: East Coast Route in Sicily
- Distance: 159 KM
- Start and end point: Syracuse and Taormina
- Suggested Duration: 1 week
- Best by: car
- Highlights: coastal route along cities like Syracuse and Catania, the volcano Mount Etna and small fisherman’s villages.
This route is part of the travel guide 'Art & Culture in Eastern Sicily' by Debora D'Amico and 'Sicily's Catania and surroundings' by Maria Orlando. Find the extensive version of this route with interactive spots, legends, hotel recommendations, restaurants, detailed information and elaborate stories in these guides, available for €4,99.
SYRACUSE – CATANIA (61 KM)
Start your route along the East Coast of Sicily in the city of Syracuse. This southeastern city is one for the romantic souls. The city is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is surrounded by beautiful nature and a rich history. The most romantic part of the city is the beautiful island of Ortigia, with a true Byzantine castle and typical narrow streets to wander through. Make sure to visit the center square Piazza Duomo with a beautiful cathedral and the natural beach Fontane Bianche with crystal clear waters. Continue your route towards Catania on the SS114, the second largest city of Sicily in an one-hour drive along the coast.
CATANIA – ACITREZZA & ACICASTELLO (10 KM)
The city of Catania is full of history, marked by its Duomo Square which resembles an elephant fountain, the symbol of Catania. From here you walk to Via Etnea, the main street of the city that is lined with beautiful buildings and restaurants. The baroque old town of Catania is similar to Syracuse, listed as an UNESCO site and reconstructed in the 18th century by Gionvanni Battista Vaccarini to its current state today. Visit the fish market in the morning, next to the Duomo Square, a very typical place where modern fisherman walk in the footsteps of their ancestors by selling their daily catch. After the market, head towards the fisherman’s villages Acitrezza and Acicastello to see where they actually catch the fish. When you arrive in Acitrezza, the fisherman’s village where the famous Sicilian writer Giovanni Verga set his best work, make sure to visit Eden Bar for a typical local dish: granita. This sweet Sicilian delicacy was has strong Arabic influence, a combination of ice and perfumed essences, and is always accompanied with a typical brioscia – a round shaped brioche.
ACITREZZA & ACICASTELLO – MOUNT ETNA (33 KM)
The village of Aci Castelo is named after the Norman castle built in 1076, located on a basaltic rock. The castle is made of black lava stone and has a small botanical garden outside. From the Piazzo Castello you can admire the view on the volcanic rocks in the sea, giving you a beautiful panorama of the coastline. The area is full of places to eat and drink, but at the end of the promenade you will find La Cambusa del Capitano, an excellent restaurant serving fresh fish. From here it’s time to put your hiking shoes on, because you’re about to climb the only active volcano in Europe: Mount Etna! The mountain is 3324 meter tall, making it the tallest active volcanic and giving it the nickname 'Mongibeddu' in Sicilian, meaning ‘beautiful mountain’. It is possible to access two different gateways to Mount Etna sides by car: Piano Provenzana from Linguaglossa, on the northeastern side of the volcano, and Rifugio Sapienza on the southern part from Nicolosi, where you can also take the cable car to reach the top of the mountain. Find more information about the various nature trails in the travel guide Art & Culture in Eastern Sicily.
MOUNT ETNA – TAORMINA (55 KM)
After hiking the volcano, it’s time to visit the jewel of the East Coast: Taormina. Visit the beautiful Greek-Roman amphitheater Teatro Antico di Taormina, built in the 3rd century B.C. Still hosting various concerts, festivals, ballets, and operas, check if you can join one of these events. If you’re in for a swim in the summer, go to the beautiful natural reserve Isola Bella. You can reach the island by walking along the thin strip of pebbled beach. In the afternoon, take the cable car from the fishing town of Mazzarò or visit the charming narrow streets of Taormina’s city center.
This route is part of the travel guide Art & Culture in Eastern Sicily by Debora D'Amico and Sicily's Catania and surroundings by Maria Orlando. Find the extensive version of this route with interactive spots, legends, hotel recommendations, restaurants, detailed information and elaborate stories in these guides, available for €4,99.
Suggested readings for Italy:
- The Scenic Route through Tuscany
- West Coast Route in Sardinia
- Coastal Route through Cinque Terre
- A Route through Italy's Southern Coast
- Dolce vita walking route in Rome