1-week itinerary in Eastern Sicily

The hinterland is mountainous and is dominated by the Iblei Mountains: here are some of the most beautiful towns of the whole island. Noto, Modica and Ragusa are rich in history and stand out from the others for their baroque architecture. On the coast, Syracuse and Taormina leave speechless with their splendid treasures and sunny squares.

What a place, right? And we have not yet spoken about the warmth of the people, the splendid beaches, the delicious cuisine, the archaeological treasures ... and other delightful villages.

It is an island that offers so much and therefore, what is the best way to savour it all and not miss even one of its treasures? Through a road trip!

Taormian Greek Theatre
 

Day 1: Ragusa and surroundings

How to start a great road trip to Sicily? But with a visit to Ragusa!

Ragusa is a city with a double soul: Ragusa Superiore is also called the new city, has a frenetic and modern heart, while Ragusa Ibla enchants the traveller with its historic centre, its alleys and Baroque buildings.

After visiting this beautiful jewel set in the hinterland, you can refresh yourself with excellent ice cream and then proceed towards an unusual destination compared to the usual itineraries: the Grotta delle Trabacche, a perfectly preserved necropolis.

The right conclusion to this day? Relax on the beach. In the surroundings of Ragusa there are many, we have chosen the tranquillity and comfort of the bathing facilities of the Pata Pata beach (patapatasampieri.com), which is located in Sampieri between Marina di Ragusa and Scicli.

Modica, Sicily


Day 2: Modica and Scicli

Modica is famous for its baroque buildings ... but above all for its chocolate! The chocolate of Modica is particular and difficult to find anywhere else: it is made with an ancient Aztec technique when Sicily was the recipient of all the goods coming from the 'New Continent'' and you can taste it in a thousand of varieties. Chilli? Pepper? Vanilla? The choice is up to you.

How to dispose of the calories accumulated from chocolate tastings? With a visit to Scicli!

For the fans of the Italian TV series Montalbano, Scicli is an unmissable destination, for non-fans, this town enchants with its medieval streets and warm colours. If you have the chance, visit it both day and night: the lights change and transform this hamlet making it magical.

Modica, Sicily
 

Day 3: Siracusa

Did you know that Siracusa was the largest city in the ancient world? Oh yes, it was even bigger than Athens!

Today, Syracuse keeps the charm of timeless beauty: ancient ruins rise among restaurants and shops and its spectacular Baroque buildings are reflected on turquoise and crystalline sea.

Not to miss is the Archaeological Park of Neapolis at about 2 km from the city centre.

Why you shouldn't miss it? Here are 4 good reasons:
  • the ancient amphitheatre is the third largest after the Colosseum and the Verona Arena
  • you can scream inside the Ear of Dionysus and hear this cave amplify the sound of your voice up to 16 times
  • you can imagine ancient shows and fights sitting on the steps of the ancient Greek theatre, one of the best preserved in the world
  • come in May and June for the Greek festival when the amphitheatre hosts live performances of Greek plays
 
Ortigia, Siracusa

Siracusa Amphitheatre
 

Day 4: Noto and the Vendicari Nature Reserve

Noto boasts one of the most beautiful historic centres in all of Sicily and it is no coincidence that it is included among the world heritage protected by UNESCO.

What to do in Noto?
  • enter the city by crossing the Porta Reale, an impressive triumphal arch created for the King of the Two Sicilies
  • visit the ex Convento delle Benedettine and, from the panoramic terrace, admire the city from above
  • admire the interior of the Cathedral with devotion
  • feeling like a bourgeois from the 1700s visiting the interiors of the Nicolaci Palace
  • visit in May to take part in the Infiorata, Sicily's most famous flower festival
After such intense hours, relaxation on the beach is the ideal thing. Near Noto, an unmissable place is the Vendicari Reserve, which offers some of the most beautiful and pristine beaches of the entire coast.

Noto

Cala Mosche, Vendicari
 

Day 5: The Castle of Donnafugata, Marzamemi and Capo Passero

What do the TV series Montalbano and the movie "Il Gattopardo" have in common? The location! Oh yes, in both cases, some scenes were shot in the Castle of Donnafugata, a marvellous mansion from the late 19th century.
  • explore the rooms of the villa to travel back in time
  • get lost in the maze outside the villa
  • discover all the pranks scattered in the garden by the baron
After so much splendour, it's time to get back in the car towards Marzamemi.

What about Marzamemi? This small fishing village will bewitch your heart with his colours, with his food, with his sea. It is a charming hamlet with fishing in its soul. Its tuna processing plant is one of the most important in Sicily and dates back to the time of Arab domination. Although in recent years the town has focused heavily on tourism, thanks to its beautiful beach and the port equipped for mooring, its fortune is still today predominantly in fish products and wine. It's here that the famous Nero d'Avola is produced. Worth mentioning also is the Pachino tomato taking its name from the village of which Marzamemi is a hamlet.

We then continued the day reaching the tip of Capo Passero and admiring the sunset over the sea. 

Donnafugata Castle

Marzamemi, Sicily
 

Day 6-7: Taormina, the pearl of Sicily

After 5 busy days visiting the Sicily South East, we leave our base in Donnalucata to head towards the Ionian coast: towards Taormina.

Along the way, we take a little tour of Villa Romana del Tellaro. Here there are some splendid perfectly preserved mosaics depicting hunting scenes and mythological episodes: a must see.

Villa Romana del Tellaro


Taormina is one of the most popular resorts in the world and rightly so. It is a town of great beauty, in a spectacular location, along the side of the mountain facing the Ionian sea. The heart of Taormina is filled with shops, people, medieval churches and unparalleled historical wonders. All seasoned with a breathtaking view of Mount Etna.


5 things not to miss in Taormina 

Visit the Greek Amphitheatre
Great testimony of Ancient Sicily, the Greek Theater is the most famous monument of Taormina, and the second largest theatre on the island (after the one in Syracuse). Built by the Greeks (3rd century BC) who chose the spectacular promontory as a spectacular setting for their dramatic and musical performances.

The gardens of the Villa Comunale
Rich in floral and arboreal beauty, the Villa Comunale is a pleasant oasis of tranquillity in the city centre. This beautiful public gardens named after the Duke of Cesaró were originally a private park created by the will of Lady Florence Trevelyan Cacciola, the Scottish noblewoman who lived in Taormina since 1884 and married the then first citizen.

Stroll along Corso Umberto I
The Corso Umberto I is the main street of Taormina. Bordered to the north by Porta Messina and to the south by Porta Catania, the ancient Greek-Roman road axis passes through the historic centre of the beautiful Sicilian town. Characterized by a succession of shops, fashion and souvenir shops, delicatessens and cafes, today the narrow street named after the King of Italy Umberto I of Savoy is a lively pedestrian walk where thousands of visitors from all over the world stroll through every day.

Swim in Isola Bella
A small island of about 1 sq. Km, rich in lush vegetation joined to the mainland by a thin strip of sand. This suggestive offshoot of land, located in the enchanting inlet after the Sant’Andrea promontory, south of Taormina, is Isola Bella. A nature reserve since 1998, the beautiful "pearl of the Mediterranean", praised by Goethe, Byron, Dillon and many others, is divided into small terraces connected by steps and walkways, immersed in the greenery of thick Mediterranean scrub and fascinating exotic shrubs.

Reach for the top on Mt Etna
The most sought-after location remains the summit crater that can be reached with organized excursions led by the expert guides of Etna. Usually take the cable car from Rifugio Sapienza, then continue by jeep and then on foot without too much effort and without danger.


Mt Etna

Isola Bella, Taormina

Taormina