If you’re heading to Sicily’s east coast to enjoy a break in the beautiful hilltop town of Taormina, consider yourself lucky! This charming town, situated under the shadow of Mt. Etna, has been weaving its magic on visitors since the nineteenth century, and its elegant streets, ancient ruins and breathtaking ocean views create an irresistible appeal. We dare you not to fall in love.
But before you get struck in the eye by the big pizza pie of amore, you should know that there’s quite a bit more to love about the surrounding region, too. Along the route of the 50-minute journey from Catania Airport to Taormina, you’ll pass by these five Sicilian troves, which reveal the authentic side of Sicily.
As you pass by the southern slopes of Mt. Etna, you’ll encounter the medieval village of Misterbianco. Surrounded by picturesque agricultural land sliced by the Amenano River, the village is home to numerous important cultural attractions. Originally the home of Dominican monks, it was completely destroyed by a volcanic eruption in the 1600s, but later became a centre of great economic importance. Culture lovers will find plenty to appreciate in the historic old town centre, including the Church of Madonna delle Grazie, the Church of San Nicola and the ruins of a second-century Roman aqueduct.
Recommended Visit Time: Allow half a day to explore the town at leisure, and more if you want to spend time examining the Roman ruins.
2. Santa Tecla
No doubt you’ll want to take a tour of Mt. Etna, and Santa Tecla makes a great base from which to do it. With a stunning seaside vantage at the base of the volcano, this is definitely one place that deserves more than a cursory glance from a vehicle window. Make a promise to come back and experience the full pleasure of the legendary Sicilian hospitality, with a selection of the fabulous seafood gastronomy at one of the many bars and restaurants along the harbour, and you won’t be disappointed. And, if you take a day excursion to explore the crater of the volcano (you can go by jeep or cable car), make sure that you bring your swimsuit so that you can cool down in the waters of the lovely protected harbour after.
Recommended Visit Time: You’ll need a full day if you want to head up the volcano and explore the village as well. If you’re not keen on going to the crater, half a day is sufficient.
3. Park Radicepura
Occupying five lush, fertile hectares of land between Mt. Etna and the Ionian Sea, Radicepura is the culmination of one man’s dream to bring together more than 3000 species of plants from all over the world in one glorious garden. If you’ve got a green thumb, this place is your Nirvana, but even if you’re just looking for a peaceful escape in nature, you’ll love it. Enjoy guided botanical walks, delve into the living archive of flowers, seeds, palms, bushes and medicinal plants, and enjoy the multiple reception areas that span centuries of architectural styles. This beautiful and fascinating place offers a true haven in which to contemplate the beauty of nature.
Recommended Visit Time: If you really want to make the most of the park, a full day is recommended. However, if you’re short on time, you can get around it in a few hours.
As you get closer to Taormina, you’ll come upon the tiny village of Giarre. But don’t let its size fool you, because it’s a powerhouse of culture. Founded in the sixteenth century, the ancient streets of the village are home to numerous buildings of great architectural and cultural significance. The Aquarium (the Mother Church) features an impressive exterior and houses some important paintings and tapestries, while inside the Chiesa Gesù Lavoratore is a priceless eighteenth-century crucible. But possibly the most interesting site for culture and history buffs is the beautiful Church Oratorio San Filippo Neri, renowned as one of the best examples of Baroque architecture in Catania.
Recommended Visit Time: A few hours are enough to explore the main cultural attractions of Giarre.
5. Piedimonte Etneo
Another hilltop village at the foot of Mt. Etna, Piedimonte Etneo was originally named Belvedere (which translates to beautiful views), for its, drumroll… beautiful views! Less than half an hour from Taormina, the village has an aristocratic heritage and, as such, it also has some lovely religious architecture in the form of the Neoclassical Mother Church, the Church of Sant’Ignazio and the Convent of Cappuccini. For those looking to immerse themselves in authentic culture, simply wandering around this lovely village and taking in the views offers a true taste of Sicily.
Recommended Visit Time: As it’s so close to Taormina, you’ll only need a few hours to explore this area. But why not stay for lunch, overlooking those magic views?
From Catania Airport to Taormina
The transfer from Catania Airport to Taormina offers an excellent opportunity to see some of the amazing sights of Sicily’s beautiful east coast. Make a note of some of the more off-the-beaten-track places so that you can go back and explore them at your leisure.
About Shuttle Direct
Looking for the fastest, most comfortable way to get from Catania Airport to Taormina? Look no further than Shuttle Direct, the most trusted name in airport transport in Europe and North Africa. Book a convenient shared or private transfer via our simple online booking system and kiss your holiday hassles goodbye.
NB. This route guide has been compiled as an aid to visiting the region. Your airport transfer service from Catania Airport to Taormina does not include stops to these destinations.