S. Anna’s and Fondachello’s beaches are within easy reach on foot. Fondachello offers a lot, from traditional food to sea food specialties, from small street markets to pleasant evening cocktails on the beach.
The Alcantara Gorges
Gole dell’Alcantara in Motta Camastra, or the Alcantara Gorges, are within easy reach by car. They are lava canyons through which the river Alcantara flows.
The most famous and biggest gorge is in the area of Fondaco Motta; it is 6 km long but it is easy to walk along it. It is made by prismatic basal walls as a result of the cooling of lava flowing over a long period.
Among other famous summer resorts near Messina is Giardini Naxos with its meeting places and venues.
You can walk along the promenade tasting typical Sicilian granita or arancini while looking at the “Caribbean” beaches and clear sea as well as the stunning city Taormina.
Either travelling by car or by train you won’t miss a small island called Isola Bella, where you can stop and spend a wonderful day in the green parkland, or short boat excursions on the sea.
You can get to the centre of Taormina very quickly from the train station. Taormina was a small antique; it is now a historical tourist centre famous for its scenery, sea and historical monuments. Walking down Corso Umberto I you might even meet someone famous. Walking past the Duomo, enjoy the stunning view from Belvedere Square.
The Ancient Theatre of Taormina is close to the centre. It is the second-largest Greek theatre in Sicily after the one in Syracuse. In Greek times the theatre was used for plays (tragedies). Later it was used for the fights between gladiators during Roman times. Nowadays, the theatre is home to “Taormina Arte”, an international artistic festival, and the famous Taormina Film Festival.
The theatre was also used for some footage in Woody Allen’s film “Mighty Aphrodite”.
Guided tours, excursions and local typical activities are organised in Taormina during the year.
Etna Park is another place worth visiting: it is a protected natural area just 32 km away from Riposto. The most interesting things to visit are:
“La grotta del gelo” (The Ice Cave) a conical cave where you can find ice all year round, as the temperature never goes above 6°C.
As far as it is known “Grotta dei tre livelli” (or The Three Levels Cave) is the longest cave in Mt Etna and one of the biggest in the whole world.
La valle del Bove (The Ox Valley): a wide valley on the eastern side of Mt Etna covered with the remains of recent lava flows.
Through Etna excursions you will find some beauty still to discover
Still on the Ionian side of Sicily you can visit some cities with their old traditions, like like Acireale, Catania, Siracusa, Caltagirone, Noto, Ragusa and Agrigento.
Acireale is famous for its carnival, baroque architecture and spas, as well as its nearby small villages and marinas.
The Cathedral Square is in the heart of Acireale, where the most important buildings of the city overlook: the Cathedral (Chiesa Cattedrale), St. Peter and Paul’s Basilica (Basilica dei Santi Pietro e Paolo), the Town Hall (Palazzo del Comune) and Palazzo Modò.
The other buildings, churches and monuments in the historical centre of Acireale are also worth visiting. Corso Umberto I, the heart of social life, is full of buildings. Further down you get to Garibaldi Square (la piazzetta) with Michele La Spina’s sculpture to the fallen soldiers in the middle, and Indirizzo Square. Villa Belvedere, where you can have a delicious ice cream, is just on the right of the square.
Catania is one of the few cities to offer different landscapes in the same place. It lies at the bottom of Mt Etna (the highest active volcano in Europe), halfway between Messina and Syracuse. The heart of the city used to be on a hill, where Piazza Dante and the monastery of Saint Nicolò l’Arena (today a campus) is now.
Via Etna and its shops are the elegant centre of social life.