Giardini Naxos and the surrounding area.
(5 km from the estate)
Giardini Naxos was the first Greek colony in Sicily and there is a large archaeological area with a museum. There are few landscapes which better show off the beauty of Sicily than this town, cradle of ancient Mediterranean civilisation and a tourist resort which is one of the most important in Southern Italy with a wide variety of accommodation types and facilities. It was founded in 735 BC by a group of colonials who landed on Cape Schisò and set up the first Greek colony in Sicily, calling it Naxos after the island of the same name in the Aegean Sea. Later, the Arabs brought the cultivation of citrus fruit and also left their mark in place names such as Schisò from Al Qusus (chest) and the Alcantara of which the origin is Al Quantarah (The Bridge), presumably the old crossing was so amazing as to give its name to the river. The modern name comes from the Sicilian “Giardini”, meaning citrus grove, and Naxos from the first Greek colony.
To visit: the church of Santa Maria Raccomandata, the Castle of the Schisò, the Naxos Museum and the Gole dell’Alcantara (see profile sheet)
There are two sandy beaches near the estate:
The beach of Reccanti which has a lido and waterslides. It offers a choice of different sports: jet skis can be rented, water skiing, diving and parasailing are also available.
There is ample parking space, a free beach and restaurants.
Fishing boats leave here to take visitors on excursions to the Isola Bella and the Grotta Azzurra.
The beach in Giardini Naxos has both a free beach and lidos, bars and restaurants.
Just a few kilometres from Giardini are:
The Baia di Mazzarò, typical and exclusive bathing location, famous for its cultural patrimony and fine food using fresh fish.
- The 'Isola Bella (see information sheet.
- The Baia di Spisone, part of the history and myth of Taormina
- The Baia di Capo Sant'Alessio.
North along the coast is Letojanni, a small fighing village which has a festival of dedication to the sea. One day every August, seven Sicilian carts pulled by tall horses in harness with high feathered head dresses travel through the streets of the hamlet down to the sea. Towards evening, a fishing boat takes the statue of Saint Joseph on board and sails out to sea with it. As the boat sails along the coast, the lights of the houses are turned off and are only turned back on once the procession sailed past towards the nearby village of Sant’Alessio. To crown the occasion, a show of water fireworks, called “Paperelle” which dive into the water and explode with sparks, stars and fabulous colours.
(8 kilometres from the estate)
“Nothing but a landscape” in the words of Maupassant “but a landscape in which there seems to be everything ever created to seduce the eyes, the spirit and the imagination”. It would be difficult to find words more suitable to describe the sensation of arriving on the Isola Bella, “the Beautiful Island”, nature reserve and the “Pearl of the Ionian”. It is a glimpse of uncontaminated nature, set between the shore and the sea and attached to the land by a fine strip of sand which is constantly moulded into new forms by the currents and the tide. The fauna is varied and the flora unique, the sea bed conserves precious relics from ships and archaeological finds. A visit to the reserve is wonderful all the year round thanks to its gentle Mediterranean climate which makes for pleasant holidays from February to November. Visitors should not miss the chance of taking a boat trip to the marine grotto of Capo S Andrea organized by the boatmen of the Isola Bella and the island itself can be visited. It is best to arrange a guided tour by calling the numbers which are posted on the noticeboard displayed on the gate opposite the island. The beach has a lido and a free beach, bars, restaurants and for those who love diving, a Diving Centre.
Taormina, 10 km from the residence
An important tourist destination, which overlooks the Ionian sea from a terrace which in a steep cliff which drops straight down into the sea creating the promontories of Taormina, S Andrea Castelluccio and the Isola Bella. Famous for its amazing natural beauty it retains an important historical and cultural heritage which includes amongst others, the great Greek-Roman theatre, a thermal spa, a medieval castle , the cathedral and a number of churches and other noble palaces. The railway station is also worth a visit as it was the setting and the location for part of Roberto Benigni’s film the “Little Devil”.
During the summer months numerous important cultural events take place.
The Gole dell’Alcantara (10km from the residence)
The gorge of the Alcantara river is one of the most remarkable natural features of the whole of Sicily. It is a wild and gloomy place, the narrow gorge, just a few metres wide and over 20 deep, has been carved out by the river as it flows between magnificent walls of basaltic columns in various forms. It is possible to wade up a section of about 150 metres and to admire one of one of the most amazing and striking parts of the whole park. The gorge which is in the district of Motta Camastra is a canyon of balsatic lava which has formed following eruptions by the various outlying caters of Etna and then been shaped by the erosive action of the flowing water over many thousands of years. Many thousands of years ago in prehistoric times, before the Alcantara River, another flowed in its place. This riverbed, called “pre alcantarino” was taken over by the magma from the outlying craters of Etna, because this was basaltic and therefore relatively fluid, it flowed down the watercourse easily and quickly reached the sea. In the water the lava cooled quickly and so produced this amazing litological effect, basaltic columns in prism shapes caused by cracking as the lava rapidly cooled. To visit the gorge it is best to have wading boots which can be hired on site to protect from the icy waters. There is plenty of parking space, a bar and restaurant with a modern lift to lower visitors to the gravel banks of the river. There is also a public entrance to the gorge which is free.
The Eolian Islands
This group of islands floating together in the blue waters of the Tyrrhenian sea are an oasis of silence and clear water. The mixture of wildness and picturesque beauty make it a fascinating archipelago. The seven islands, all of volcanic origin, are characterised by extinct volcanoes, with the exception of Stromboli which has several craters in continual activity, the Sciara del Fuoco (stream of fire) seen at night, is an extraordinary vision.
In Vulcano, the water is particularly warm and it is possible to bathe in the volcanic mud. In Lipari there is an unusual landscape created by the water draining off from the pumice stone quarry. There are also boat trips organised by local fishermen.
10 things to see and do
- Visit the Greek Theatre
- The Cathedral Square
- The town villa
- Porta Messina (the old town gate)
- Palazzo Corvaja
- Go swimming at the Isola Bella
- The Naumachie
- Odeon theatre
- The castle of Castelmola
- The Church of San Pancrazio