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If your holidays include the territory of the great volcano Mount Etna you might wish to learn about different itineraries. You might like to discover places and feelings. Some locations are very famous, and touristically exploited, but they are not the only ones to visit. Also try new unusual places to see on the highest and most beautiful volcano in Europe.

East Etna is the flank that stretches from Valle del Bove – the large valley created by ancient landslides — to the sea. On this side of the volcano you will see chestnut trees, vineyards, orchards, cultivations going down to the coast. Then, near the sea, some more precious places to admire in your original itinerary through the Etnean lands.

East Etna, from Acicastello to Milo

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Acireale, the cathedral

Acicastello is not just the lovely town on the lava cliffs with the Norman Castle on the main square. Its territory includes Aci Trezza, as well. The famous fishermen’s hamlet celebrated by the writer Verga in his “Malavoglia” novel is worth the visit! You should go and admire: the Norman Castle – with its museum and the mediterranean garden, the sea promenade overlooking the lava islets. Also visit Casa del Nespolo dei Malavoglia, a small fisherman’s house turned into a historic museum. Not far from there, a medieval watchtower in lava stone.

It takes a 10-minute drive to go from Acicastello to Acireale. This elegant city has a historic heart you can easily visit in 2 hours. Try a cold and sweet granita ice-cream at Cathedral Square, looking at the seventeenth-century churches. The Cathedral and Saints Peter and Paul together with the Town Hall celebrate the Baroque style. Also visit: St Sebastian basilica, the lava stone masks of Via Dafnica, Belvedere Park. The panoramic Chiazzette Road descends from the city to the beach.

In about half an hour drive from Acireale you can reach Zafferana Etnea. The “gate town to Etna” will welcome you with its splendid church. It is the backdrop to many photos of the eruptions and overlooks a panoramic double square. To admire, here: the 1992 lava flows that lapped the outskirts of the town. Do taste the excellent honey produced on the spot.  End this itinerary  by going up to Milo, a mountain village overlooking the panorama of the Ionian coast. Its territory goes as far as Fornazzo. There you can stop to admire the little church of the Sacred Heart, half buried by the lava.

More East Etna: from Sant’Alfio to Taormina

The second itinerary starts from the town of Sant’Alfio. Located a short distance from Milo, it is famous for the beautiful main church built entirely with black lava stone. In its territory there is also the centuries-old chestnut “of One Hundred Horses”. Monumental tree – 22 meters high and 21 meters wide – it has an indefinite age dating back to before the 16th century. Do not miss in this town

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Magazzeni church St Alfio

the view from the small church of the “Magazzeni”. Here, where the lava miraculously stopped saving the town in 1928, Mount Etna dominates the small sacred building.

From Sant’Alfio descend to the town of Mascali, destroyed by the lava during the lateral eruption of 1928. At Ripe della Naca -between the two villages –  three “lava falls”, now solidified, can still be admired today. This is a natural “photo” of the eruption blocked in time as it crosses the ridge and descends towards the valley. In the territory of Mascali, in Nunziata, today stands the oldest church in the district of Catania. It is an early Christian place of worship recently discovered in the area called “la Nunziatella”.

Now you go down to the sea. The beautiful Mascali seafront leads up to Riposto, the tourist port of Etna. The center gathers around the monumental main church of San Pietro. But it is the port – open to luxury yachts – the seat of the real tourist movement. From here starts the road that directly connects Riposto with Taormina, passing through the bay of Giardini Naxos. In half an hour’s drive you will find yourself looking at the coast from the panoramic balconies or the Ancient Roman Theater. Between scents of jasmine and tasty cocktails, you will admire the most beautiful views of Sicily!

Learn more about this itinerary

We suggest you to go for this itinerary in the period between March and June. You can attend many local festivals. To name some: the Pilgrimage of Sant’Alfio, San Giovanni Battista in Aci Trezza or the festival of San Pietro in Riposto.

Do not miss the food tastings: Acireale’s granitas,  Zafferana’s honey, the small sweet apples of Milo. Worth the taste, the excellent fish served in the restaurants of Acicastello and Aci Trezza. And then try the lemon sorbet or the variegated ice creams of Taormina.

With a few euros you can access: the Norman Castle of Acicastello, the Casa del Nespolo in Aci Trezza. Boat trips can be booked from Aci Trezza and Riposto. You can visit the south bell tower of the Cathedral of Acireale by climbing to the top and admiring the city from above. (photos by Grazia Musumeci)

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

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