For many years the summer months have been extended into late September and October by my trips to Sicily taking the flight to Catania from Manchester and then the onward bus from the bus stop outside the arrivals hall after a first reviving coffee and sandwich from the cafe bar nearest to the bus stands outside the airport to either Giardini Naxos or Taormina for the first leg of my visit to the burning island.
It takes about just over an hour to reach Giardini and Taormina by Etna buses the views on the bus on route are stunning of the Mount Etna and the island in general as the bus winds it way through the centre of Catania it stops in the main bus station in the centre which as connections for many other towns and cities around the island and if you prefer the train the train station is opposite the main Etna bus station whilst coach services are also available again opposite the train station which you pass if on the bus from the Airport.
Giardini Naxos is ideal for those who love a beach holiday the long seafront stretches for miles with the Porto Naxos at one end and the Archaeological Museum and gardens opposite the port area with its ancient ruins and the altar to Apollo inside the peaceful gardens that offer fantastic views of Mount Etna one side and the other the coastline and Taormina perched beneath towering Mount Taurus.
Taormina offers visitors fantastic shopping views the Greek theatre with if your lucky live plays or a concert depending on your timing!!
Isola Bella and the beaches beneath can be reached by cable car or buses with Etna and local buses serving Taormina and Giardini Naxos you can always explore both resorts on foot its usually the best way to see both having stayed in both I would be tempted to spend 3 nights in each resort but if you get a great deal go for either they are both great bases for longer stays with plenty of trips and bus and coach services available from both to nearby sights and further afield. Having visited Monreale and Palermo, Agrigento, Syracuse, Mount Etna and the islands such as the Aeolian islands trip a full long day with an expert guide starting at six in the morning and arriving back into the resort in the evening in the dark the day was like heaven on Earth seeing the blue seas and skies broken by the small volcanic islands among them Vulcano and Stromboli rise majestically from out of the azure blue sea and are framed by blue skies above and seabirds in flight above the dark cliffs that are topped by a mixture of green and volcanic ashes of varying blacks and greys and white Lipari is the first stop by boat from the coast of Sicily and the main harbour town called Lipari is a beautiful place with a varied array of gift clothes and cafe bars and restaurants to explore after the guide takes you on a tour of the island if you opt for it a bus journey on which you stop for a drink on the cliff tops with fantastic views of the varied volcanic islands that are dotted around Lipari. Another short bus journey price not included in the day trip… But in my opinion worth the fee you stop again at a cafe bar where drinks and food are available before you are dropped back near the harbour and have free time to explore the many shops and cafe bars of the main resort on Lipari the boat will leave on time with or without you so do not get lost in the winding streets of Lipari!!!
Leaving Lipari the boat then calls at the Volcanic island of Vulcano there are steam mud baths to visit not for me or a walk up the nearby peak decided to spend the hour or so free time having something to eat in one of the many cafe bars then found a great bar that sold strong lagers from around the world so had a bottle of Kwak which was excellent and quenched my first looking out over the small port and beach on the small outside terrace beneath a parasol we boarded the boat back and then it was the coach journey home from the port of Milazzo in the fading light as the sunset over the islands climbing to Taormina was in the night along the winding cliffside roads with all the varied lights magical and also a bit scary when traffic was coming towards you the trip is on the websites today with varied prices from £64 TO £77 pounds quoted depending on the islands selected. I did the Lipari & Vulcano the dearer option is the Stromboli & Panarea however I paid more that this for my day trip back in 2017. You can visit the Egadi islands by ferry yourself but the bus travel to Trapani or Marsala involves two very long bus journeys would recommend visiting Trapani or Marsala and making it a part of your holiday or visit to Sicily. Again the choices on the island are varied with many trips and tours whilst you can always plan your own tour of Sicily based around your arrival and departure airports or ports for that matter with so many sights and cities to see Sicily offers every visitor a great destination for a summer holiday with contrasting landscapes to suit all from island beach mountains countryside and city breaks with a great choice of accommodation to suit all budgets and tastes on offer. Great food and wine and the hospitality of the Sicilian people is always very warm and friendly.
Having visited Catania many times and used both the bus and train making the trip to Syracuse from Catania is a journey worth taking whenever you visit Sicily if only for a day the best way to see Syracuse is by Spending between a three to five day stay there are many hotels and apartments to suit ll tastes and budgets.
There is a wide choice of hotels near the train and bus stations but also the centre of Syracuse and the harbour area along with the island of Ortygia.
Taxis are not expensive the city offers visitors a unique choice of history with museums and ancient theatres and temples to visit along with the quarries named the ear of Dionysuis once a prison for the defeated Athenian army with a macabre history due to the numbers of warriors who died in the prison.
Exploring the history and admiring the stunning sights on offer of towering Mount Etna and the beach at Giardini Naxos from Taormina along with the stunning coastline and the deep blue azure sea.
Yachts and other small boats sail the large natural bay of Naxos and the odd Cruise liners usually call in the small harbour in the bay of Naxos.
You can book an half day Yachting tour of the bay of Naxos that sails from Giardini Port to Taormina and Isola Bella among other sights at a price of £60 pounds whilst the mount Etna and Villages plus the Volcanic rocky river Gorge Alcantara day trip which will remain with you for life costs circa £80 pound per person all picks up from Taormina and Giardini Naxos hotels or nearby.
Naxos was the original port of call for the first Greeks to land and settle on Sicily from the Greek island of Naxos circa 734 B.C .and where they set up an Altar to the deity Apollo thanking him for their safe crossing over the sea from the Greek Mainland via Lefkas, to the Italian coastline and then onwards to the burning islands of Sicily as they hugged the coast of Italy sailing past the Italian coastline port of Rhegium in the Ionian sea heading towards Sicily and settling among the Sicel and Sican peoples who had long since settled the island named after those first settlers Sicania after the Sicanian people and the later arrivals the Sicels who called the island Sicily…
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