From the time we left Portugal, such hospitable for us, the month has passed. During this time, we spent a total of 9 days just traveling, moving from Portugal to the south of France and then from France to Sicily. We spent the last two weeks of February resting in Provence from the hardships of our previous journey.
At the beginning of March we went on the rest of our trip, this time starting from the Sicily located in the south of Italy. Last week, we explored the eastern coast of the island starting from the border with the European continent of – Messina, through the tourist -Taormina and the largest in this region of – Katania.
Below our Golf, before heading on a ferry trip to Sicily. We are in Villa San Giovanni from where the sea crossing to the island only takes 30 minutes.
It took several days to cover the entire Italian route, but in the meantime we have not forgotten about the flag of the next visited country.
We are already in Sicily! From the shore in Messina, we look at the continental Italy that we have just left.
We started exploring the island from the port of Messina located on the northeastern tip of Sicily. It is not a typical tourist city, but as the first day in a new place and getting to know the prevailing customs here is ideal.
We are at the main square of the city – Piazza Duomo and we look at the cathedral Duomo di Messina with a dozen-meter belfry from which there is a beautiful view of the bay.
As a lookout we took one of the hills located a few hundred meters from the center. On the way, a familiar view – Fiat 126 in the Italian edition.
We reach the mentioned hill in front of the church of Chiesa San Camillo. In the open square there is a statue of Pope John Paul II looking towards the Holy See. We are looking a little wider starting with the Sacrario di Cristo Ree located on our left …
… through the northern part of Messina with the clearly visible shoreline of the „Italian shoe” …
… formed in the shape of a scythe bay with a monument – Stelle della Madonna della Lettera …
… up to the city center with the Piazza Duomo and the city cathedral shown earlier.
Admiring a similar panorama is also possible from the terrace in front of the Sacrario de Cristo Re. Unfortunately, like most of the Italian churches we visited, this one was also closed.
In the direction of the coast we return one of the many similar, Messinic streets that are full of scooters and cars. It’s hard to find a place to park in the center of any of the Sicilian cities and towns.
We spent the next day in Taormina, a popular summer destination among Italians. Fortunately, in March there were not so many tourists here. Taormina lies halfway between Messina and Catania, and this means that from the southwest it is surrounded by the massif of Mount Etna, one of the last active volcanoes in this part of the world. The snow-capped top seems to be dangerous all the time, and a streak of smoke coming out of the cone reminds you of the volcano’s activity.
We enter the city from the coast, covering several hundred meters of elevation on foot. The first point is the exotic park Giardini della Villa Comunale with interesting architecture of unknown destination.
Via Roma we come to the main square of Taormina – Piazza Duomo with the historic Cattedrale di San Nicolo di Bari cathedral.
The square overlooks the Madonna della Rocca towering above the town of Santuario …
… and on the Fontana di Piazza Duomo besieged by locals and tourists.
In contrast to Messina, here the streets are clean and the houses neat. Many of them are apartments for rent for tourists.
Before us, in our opinion the most beautiful, the second of the main squares – Piazza IX Aprile. His northern frontage is occupied by Ex Chiesa Di Sant’Agostino.
On the west side there is the picturesque church of San Giuseppe located at the foot of the castle hill.
We are going further, towards the Messina Gate, the main street of the city Corso Umberto.
Immediately after leaving the old city walls, our attention is drawn to Iglesia San Pancrazio, which was also the last point of our trip around Taormina.
The last place we visited this week was Catania, the second largest city of Sicily after Palermo. It is best to enter the center through Via Etnea leading to the most important monuments of the city on the one hand and on the other to the top of the notorious Mount Etna, which repeatedly destroyed the city, flooding it with lava or causing deadly earthquakes and tsunamis.
On Via Etnea there is also the Giardino Bellini park with numerous fountains and places to relax.
We are going towards the historic center of Catania, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. After one of Etna’s devastating eruptions in the 17th century, the city was rebuilt in the style of Italian Baroque, which is still visible in its architecture.
Below Anfiteatro Romano di Catania, up Chiesa di San Biagio.
We look at the richly decorated facade of the Basilica della Collegiata.
One of the characteristic places in the center of Catania is located near the railway viaduct Fish Market. In addition to fish, you can also buy other food products, vegetables, fruits, meat. There is a distinctive smell of the sea everywhere, but there is no concern about the quality of the products.
The only caveat can be to clean the streets after the end of the market, but this is a topic for another story 🙂
We are in the main square of the city – Piazza del Duomo and look at Cattedrale di Sant’Agata, the most important church in Catania.
The symbol of the city is made of volcanic lava elephant located on the fountain plinth (Fontana Dell’Elefante). In its background there is of course Palazzio Degli Elefanti.
The view from the square towards Via Etnea closes on the right the dome of Chiesa Della Badia di Sant’Agata.
Last look at Via Etnea from Piazza del Duomo.
We have just left the last of the important sights of Catania to see, that is the Opera (Teatro Massimo Bellini) at Piazza Vincenzo Bellini. Probably inside, during the performance from the hall filled to the brim the opera makes a much better impression, but it is still good.
At the end of our stay in Catania, we went for a short walk along the quay. It is dominated by black rocks of volcanic origin. They remind you of the turbulent history of the city. They are also a warning reminder that history repeats itself and Etna has not said the last word yet.
In the following week we are going to the south-eastern coast of Sicily. We will go, among others to Syracuse, Modica and Ragusa.