Active volcanoes, ancient sites and chic holiday hot spots are just the tip of this Italian island’s charm
Kissing the toe of Italy’s boot, Sicily shines with a distinct heritage unto itself. This relatively small island packs a powerful punch of things to see and do, beautifully blending the millennia of history with the timeless delights that draw travelers today. Active volcanoes like Mount Etna and Stromboli add a sense of wonder to the diverse landscape here, as outdoor enthusiasts revel in the postcard-worthy settings along the sea, atop mountain peaks, in the midst of botanical havens and nestled along cliffs. Like virtually all of Italy, Sicily is filled to the brim with significant cathedrals, fortresses, piazzas and restaurants, all pieces of the vibrant tapestry of the island.
Today, we explore a few of Sicily’s loveliest locales featured on Crystal voyages through 2023 – the perfect starting point to inspire your Mediterranean daydreams.
Dramatically situated on the side of a mountain high above the Ionian Sea, Taormina takes your breath away from the first moment. It possesses the kind of theatrical beauty that it’s always ready for a close-up as the backdrop for a movie, which is likely why movie stars and other elite jet-setters flock to its shores for sun-soaked holidays. Unapologetically chic, Taormina is more than just a gorgeous façade as the Sicilian town also boasts the many centuries of historical triumph and turmoil that nearly all towns and cities in the region have seen. Beyond the dazzling dolce vita of today, a deeper look reveals antiquities of Greco-Roman origin and a wealth of natural beauty.
Don’t miss the Corso Umberto, not that you could. This see-and-be-seen boulevard is the main heartbeat of Taormina, lined with fine jewelers and boutiques and eateries for any taste, all of which have earned the town the nickname of the “Sicilian St-Tropez.” Venturing further, the Piazza IX Aprile offers panoramic views of Taormina and beyond, with sweeping vistas that reach all the way to Mount Etna and highlight the town’s abundance of jasmine and bougainvillea that drape the mountainside.
For all its millennia of history and time spent as part of several empires, Catania has maintained a remarkably youthful charm. Perhaps it’s the call of nature inherently echoing from the summit of Mount Etna, which presides imposingly over the city, keeping residents and visitors alike actively exploring. Or maybe it’s the buzz that emanates from the trendy bars and bustling cafes that attract crowds of cool culture aficionados and foodies. Whatever it is about the ancient UNESCO treasure-laden avenues of this metropolis, they exude an energetic fascination that simply makes one want to be part of it all.
Don’t miss the walk through time that Catania offers, from the 13th-century Ursino Castle and 16th century Monastero dei Benedettini to the 2nd-century B.C. Teatro Romano. Of course, the Sicilian sunshine warms virtually all outdoor pursuits, so venture to the nearby beaches or one of several botanical gardens in the city, and certainly make your way to the top of Mount Etna. By foot, Jeep or ATV, there are numerous ways to reach the summit caldera of this still active volcano that dominates the city’s landscape.
The Aeolian islands are an archipelago in the Tyrrhenian Sea set just north of Sicily, and the largest of these isles is Lipari. With its crystalline waters and picturesque town center, the port is ideally situated for island hopping and water adventures. Between the harbor and waterfront neighborhood, you’ll find quaint cafes, shops and townhouses, the balconies of which are adorned with vibrant bougainvillea during summer months. Ascending a grand staircase takes you to the Citadel and Lipari Museum, standing in testament to the island’s storied past, which has seen occupation since the Neolithic, Bronze and Hellenistic ages and many conquests from Arab, Turkish and other empires.
Don’t miss the stunning contrast that exists from the height of Lipari, where ancient ruins of empires and temples and other archaeological treasures can be explore, and the charming holiday delights of today that await at sea level. Beachgoers have several options from the pebbled Canneto to the white sands of Spaiggia Bianca, and Lipari’s town center is easily explored by bicycle.
Explore your favorite destinations with Crystal@Home, then aboard your favorite Crystal ships as you look ahead to future luxury journeys.