Having our first guest on island really made us stop and think, “If we were visiting Sicily, what would we want to see?” The answer here can certainly be endless, depending on what you’re into. We thought up a ton of day trips that were didn’t have time for in the end. Since Jordan was working while Ashley was in town, we had to coordinate sharing a car, which proved to be a bit more difficult than anticipated. So, besides the day trip we took to Caltagerone, Piazza Armerina, and Enna, we kept our exploration a bit closer to home. Since we live near the east coast of Sicily, we visited some of the top spots along the coast that I’d say you can’t miss! Can you guess what they are?
Perhaps the most famous town to visit in all of Sicily? Ashley identified Taormina as a “must see” before she even arrived. Luckily, we have visited there quite often, so it was an easy place to go. We always park in Porta Catania when we go, so you can just walk right into the old town. You can also park in Parcheggio Lumbi and take a shuttle to the old town as well.
Top tip: Visit Hotel Belmond (entrance on the right before you go into the greek theatre, Teatro Antico di Taormina) for a drink and receive complimentary views of Mt. Etna from their stunning outdoor patio. Fair warning, the drinks are $$!
If you’ve ever seen the Sicily episode of Chef’s Table, then you’ll understand why you have to stop in Noto for granita, if nothing else. While Bam Bar is for sure my favorite granita spot, no place can beat Cafe Sicilia‘s almond granita. And no, I don’t like it just because of the show. I had it before I ever even watched the show. The show just made me realize why it was so amazing! The town is super cute and has a few spots where you can climb to the top of buildings that overlook the town.
Right outside of Noto is Villa Romana del Tellaro, another archaeological site of an ancient Roman Villa. This villa isn’t nearly as impressive as Villa Romana del Casale (which holds the best preserved Roman mosaics in the world). Thus, I’d recommend check it out only if you’re passing though.
Catania is definitely the city I have visited the most (see a more in-depth post here). If there is one thing you see in Catania and nothing else, check out the Elephant Square area. Right behind Elephant Square is the Catania Fish Market (La Pescheria). You can acquire exceptional produce, fish, meats and cheese for incredibly low prices. Bring Euro coins, buy fresh foods, enjoy yourself.
Possibly everyone’s favorite city on the east coast of Sicily (okay, maybe not, but it tops my list) is Ortygia. Technically Ortygia is an island off of Sicily, but it is also the historic center of the city of Syracuse. It’s weird and mind boggling a little, but whatever.
I’ve talked about some of the things to do in Ortygia before, here. But this time, we checked some new things off of our list!
To be honest, we have explored so many churches since we moved to Sicily that they are all starting to run together in my head. I have visited the outside of this cathedral many, many times, but for some reason, I was never that intrigued to go in. This time, I went in and noticed something a little bit odd… Greek columns. And, that would because it was originally a Greek doric temple (Temple of Athena) from the 5th century BC! It was really phenomenal to see.
We have attempted to visit the Castle Maniace several times, but to no avail. This time we made it! Inside the gates, you can climb the castle walls and get some pretty epic views.
If you get lucky and visit during the morning of any day but Sunday, you’ll get to visit Ortigia’s Street Market. I think Ashley particularly enjoyed trying the fresh seafood there.
While a bit overpriced, the restaurants along the waterway provide incredibly scenic views.