Day 2 | Catina, Sicily
Sicily’s second city Catania is dominated by the majestic silhouette of Mount Etna. Catania was then rebuilt in the late Baroque style, and the many monuments of this epoch have earned its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The baroque churches of the harmonious Via dei Crociferi perfectly illustrate the riches of this architectural heritage. During your stop, be sure to visit Saint Agatha Cathedral with its apses made of lava stones, and its square decorated with a fountain of the Elephant, the animal which allegedly has the power to calm the fury of Mount Etna.
Syracuse - Board your coach and drive to Syracusa and its archaeological site, a 1-hour drive. Visit the Roman Amphitheatre of Augustus (used for contests between gladiators and wild beasts), the Altar of Hieron (constructed in the 2nd Century B.C. to celebrate the “Eleutherian Feast”), the Latomie of Paradise (huge caverns once used as prisons), the Ear of Dionysius (an enormous grotto, with extraordinary echoes) and the Greek Theatre (one of the largest in the Hellenic World, constructed in the 5th Century B.C. and successively enlarged). Then visit the Arethusa Fountain praised by Pindar and Virgilio and linked to one of the most touching and fine myths. Several nobility palaces – the majority of them originating to the 15th and 16th century – are seen from outside during the walking tour. Return to the port and your ship.
Catania & Cyclops Riviera - After disembarkation, board your coach and start your panoramic drive to Acireale, a 1h 15m drive. Drive along the Ionian Sea on the famous “Cyclops Riviera” with the “Faraglioni“, and pass by the villages of Aci Castello with its Norman Castle of black lava and Aci Trezza, a small fishing village. After a brief photo stop, return towards Catania and enjoy a short sightseeing tour of the city-center: Piazza Verga, Via Etnea, Villa Bellini, Piazza Stesicoro. Stop near the Cathedral square and start the walking tour of the city center: Piazza del Duomo, the central square with the elephant’s fountain and the Cathedral (outside visit) originally built by the Normans with its finely made choir stalls. Following your short walking tour, enjoy some free time to browse the shops at your leisure before re-boarding your coach for the return drive to the pier.
Taormina & Mount Etna - After disembarkation by tender, be taken by coach a 1-hour drive to the ancient Greek town of Taormina. Called Tauromenium in ancient times, Taormina clings to the side of Mount Tauro and offers superb views, splashed with the vibrant colors of bougainvillea and oleanders, of the Mediterranean Sea, Isola Bella, and a snow-capped Etna in the background. It is home to theaters and a gymnasium from the Greek period, an Odeon and baths from Roman times, buildings blending Arab and Norman cultures, traces of Byzantine, and villas belonging to European aristocracy in the 18th and 19th centuries. Start your excursion with a visit on foot to the historic center. Cross the famous Corso Umberto to discover numerous monuments from several eras, and admire Porta Catania, the Cathedral, Piazza IX Aprile, and Palazzo Corvaja. Then arrive at Teatro Antico, a theater built by the Greeks in the 3rd century BC, and almost completely rebuilt by the Romans who created a gladiatorial arena. After the visit leave Mt. Etna to Catania, and before returning to pier enjoy a short bus sightseeing of the town center: Via Etnea, Villa Bellini, Piazza Stesicoro, and Cathedral square.