IG Holidays

Etna villages

italy, sicily, taormina-94938.jpg

We propose an itinerary dedicated to the wonders of Eastern Sicily. Specifically, we address the geographical territory of Etna, in which some characteristic villages of the province of Catania are located.

Over the centuries, the entire area surrounding Mount Etna has undergone multiple changes from a geological and physical point of view, largely due to the activity of one of the largest active volcanoes in Europe and the world. All the municipalities that we will visit in this itinerary have been more or less involved, and sometimes deeply marked, by the eruptions of magma and lava. These eruptions have left an indelible mark, not only on the geographical structure of the territory, but also on the culture and history of the inhabitants who inhabit these places.

Following a perimeter route along the slopes of Etna, we will discover places that are incredibly faithful to the Sicilian tradition. We will start from the pretty town of Paternò, making a circumnavigation of the Park up to Nicolosi, famous for its rich architectural heritage of religious origin and above all for the ski resort of Rifugio Sapienza, one of the most popular in the region. We will pass through places of great historical, naturalistic and cultural importance, including Biancavilla, Adrano, Maletto and Bronte, the latter known throughout the world for the cultivation of PDO branded pistachios. We will then continue towards Zafferana Etnea, where the Ottobrata Zafferanese takes place annually, passing through Francavilla di Sicilia, Castiglione di Sicilia and of course Linguaglossa, from which it is possible to reach another place well known to mountain and winter sports lovers: Piano Provenzana.


The Norman Castle: it was built at the behest of Roger I on the model of the English castles and the French dungeons fortified in the same period. It has an austere but absolutely fascinating character and inside it contains a graceful frescoed chapel, a gallery and an armory. But the flagship is the upper terrace which allows the view of an incredibly suggestive panorama.
Gates of the City: Porta del Borgo, Porta Lentini and Porta della Ballottola date back to the Norman period, all that remains of the ancient protective walls.
Torre dei Falconieri: also entirely built using lava stone. Precisely in this tower, according to legend, the patron saint of the city was locked up before her martyrdom.
Church of Santa Barbara: built during the end of the 16th century and dedicated to the patron saint of Paternò. It has interiors adorned with precious polychrome stuccos that give it absolute uniqueness.
Sanctuary of the Madonna della Consolazione: in neo-romantic style, it is a structure linked to the cult of the Madonna della Consolazione. Among the most beautiful churches in the municipality, it is characterized by a reddish colour, due to the type of stone used for its construction. Inside, its walls are decorated with frescoes by Archimede Cirinnà.
Church of Maria Santissima Annunziata: Once a monastery of Benedictine nuns, today it continues to maintain its value also thanks to the presence of a precious painting signed by Anguissola located in the main atrium.
Palazzo di Città: ancient residence of the bourgeois Alessi family, after years of abandonment it was restored to become the town hall.

Santa Maria di Licodia and Biancavilla

The Mother Church: the most important religious building, it preserves inside paintings such as “San Leone Taumaturgo defeating the magician Eliodoro” by Desiderato and “The Holy Family” by Rapisardi.
The Bell Tower: dates back to 1143 and in the past it was a strategic light signaling point between the castles of Paternò and Adrano.
The Torre di Calafato: a mysterious stepped pyramid, whose original purpose has not yet been identified.
Biancavilla instead is a town of about 23 thousand inhabitants whose genesis starts from the development of a Greek-Albanian colony. It offers a large number of opportunities to visitors: from religious structures such as the Basilica of Santa Maria dell’Elemosina and the Church of the Annunziata, to civil ones including Villa delle Favare and the palaces belonging to bourgeois families.
Other interesting places are the seventeenth-century La Fenice theater, adjacent to the matrix of the city, the botanical garden and the water mills, active and functioning until the first half of the 1800s.


It is one of the most remote cities of the Etna area, whose roots even date back to the Neolithic. The actual foundation took place at the hands of Dionysius I of Syracuse, known as “the Elder”, but with the passing of the ages, Adrano has undergone a myriad of dominations and contaminations by many different civilizations. For this reason, the town perfectly represents the cultural heterogeneity that has always distinguished Sicily.
Thanks to the Normans, it managed to increase its value. The Castle with a quadrilateral base was built which together with the aforementioned Castle of Paternò constituted a decisive defensive system for the protection of the Simeto Valley.
In addition to the castle, it is worth visiting the nearby Ponte dei Saraceni, which connected the cities of Troina and Catania, the Monastery of Santa Lucia, the Bellini Theater and Palazzo Ciancio.


This agricultural center is known for the cultivation of pistachios. If you travel during the first months of October you could take part in the annual Sagra, during which exceptional food and wine activities are organised. During the event, the city streets take a leap into the past and the citizens offer the arts and crafts of peasant civilization, offering visitors local food products made with pistachios.
From a strictly tourist point of view, the most significant monument is the Nelson Castle, donated by King Ferdinand I to Napoleon Bonaparte’s sworn enemy: Commander Nelson, the latter awarded the title of Grand Duke of Bronte.
Another important place is the Sanctuary of the Annunziata, which houses the marble group of the Annunciation, which according to popular beliefs protects the city from the fury of the Etna volcano. Take advantage of the visit to Bronte to buy the so-called “Green Gold”, the pistachio, before leaving for Maletto.


It is the highest municipality of Etna (960 meters above sea level). Here we will be able to take part in numerous excursion activities in the Park that will occupy the rest of the day.
The Etna Park was the first among the Sicilian parks and almost entirely includes the territory of the municipality of Maletto. The nature reserve surrounding the volcano has been included among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The park was created precisely with the intention of safeguarding the exceptional natural landscape which in the past ran the risk of being contaminated and disfigured by mass tourism. The entire area is divided into several zones, one of which is a real integral reserve, where human intervention is severely limited.
From Maletto you can explore paths that can be traveled on foot, which do not involve excessive physical effort. We must bear in mind the fact that some of them could be impracticable in the coldest months, during which snowfall intensifies. In the event that you find yourself visiting these lands in the coldest months, we advise you to contact one of the many local guides, who will be able to lead you and show you alternative routes or even offer to go on certain “snowshoe hikes” in the snow.
If, on the other hand, you travel during the warm seasons, you cannot help but visit the nearby Grotta del Gelo, so called due to the presence of perennial ice inside.

Francavilla of Sicily

It is located above Taormina and is a village located exactly in the center of the Alcantara Valley, so called because it is crossed by the river of the same name. This particular position makes the territory quite interesting for all those who love outdoor excursions in the middle of nature. The main attractions are the following:
The Alcantara River Park, not to be missed for its landscape and fauna richness, features numerous rare animal and plant species.
Le Gurne dell’Alcantara, a series of sixteen small lakes of contained dimensions, which can be visited following a safe path.
Also in Francavilla there are other important historical sites: the ruins of the old Norman Castle, once the most important military construction in the entire valley, and the city Antiquarium, which houses a collection of archaeological finds of Greek origins. We suggest a brief visit to the urban area, to then dedicate the rest of the morning to a walk in the Park or along the Gurne path.

Castiglione of Sicily

Castiglione is one of the 17 Sicilian villages that are part of the circuit of the most beautiful villages in Italy. The main attraction is the Ruggiero di Lauria Castle, named after one of the most famous admirals in the service of the Aragonese during the second half of the XIII century. As far as religious architecture is concerned, the most important structures are:
The Cuba of Santa Domenica, the most important Byzantine chapel on Sicilian soil.
The Church of San Nicola, inside which prestigious frescoes were found under the plaster, which portray Christ Pantocrator.


The Cathedral of Santa Maria delle Grazie, whose interiors are characterized by wonderful frescoes.
The Church of the Dominicans, which houses a canvas depicting the Madonna del Rosario and saints, created by Sebastiano Conca.
The Church of San Francesco di Paola, adorned with precious Baroque stuccos.
The Capuchin Church, dating back to 1644, preserves works by local artists.
But pure fun awaits you in the Piano Provenzana ski resort, located on the north side of the mountain, just a few minutes from the town.
It is surrounded by the trees of a large pine forest, but what differentiates it from simple alpine landscapes is the splendid panorama that looks towards the Ionian Sea, which contributes greatly to creating a completely unique atmosphere. In this tourist area there are the most modern and avant-garde cross-country and alpine trails of the whole island; for this reason, the Linguaglossa station is considered a point of reference by ski enthusiasts and winter sports in general. If you travel during the winter months, a stop in Piano Provenzana is absolutely mandatory. There are 4 ski lifts, 3 ski lifts and a chair lift. You can practice snowboarding in addition to skiing, as well as try your hand at slalom.
Even in the absence of snow, it proves to be an enjoyable tourist destination. You can go to the central craters to see the volcanic activity up close, or indulge in a little relaxation with your family while admiring the unusual lunar landscape, poor in vegetation and characterized by lava stone.

Zafferana Etnea

It is famous for being the place where the Ottobrata Zafferanese is organized annually, a trade fair event for the promotion of typical products and traditions, which over time has evolved into a complex event capable of attracting thousands of visitors. Every year, every Sunday in the month of October, food festivals are organized dedicated to local products such as chestnuts, mushrooms and apples, with tasting stands, animations and musical entertainment.
But Zafferana is a beautiful town, equally enjoyable at any other time of the year. Absolutely to see the central square Umberto I, with the fabulous well-kept public garden, the large Mother Church containing valuable works inside and the church dedicated to the Madonna delle Grazie.
In the surrounding area you will find the Cratere degli Zappini, located in the Valle del Bove.


The municipality is rich in religious monuments. And precisely the buildings of an ecclesiastical nature represent the pride of the artistic heritage of Nicolosi. Several small altars are scattered among the streets, which bear witness to the troubled relationship with the volcano, which with its violent eruptions has repeatedly demolished the city, sowing destruction and death among the inhabitants. The latter have developed a very strong sense of religious belonging, which has now become a fundamental feature of their popular tradition. Among these altars there are the “Tre Altarelli”, depicting the three patron saints of Nicolosi. According to legend, they were built in the exact spot where the lava stopped during the eruption of 1766. Other important altars are dedicated to Sant’Antonio Abate and Sant’Agata, patroness of Catania.
Another place to see absolutely is the ancient Abbey of San Nicolò, once a monastery around which the town developed. There are many churches to visit, from the church of San Francesco to that of the Souls in Purgatory. But the three most beautiful of all are all concentrated in the city centre:
Mother Church, built following the original project created by the great Giovan Battista Vaccarini, the architect who contributed heavily with his work to the reconstruction process of the urban systems of the cities destroyed by the eruptions of the last years of the XVII century.
Church of S. Maria delle Grazie, stands on the original site where the “miraculous” construction stood, a very small sacred building, the only one that remained standing following the eruption of 1669.
Church of S. Maria del Carmelo, was once considered a sort of “hospice” for nursing monks, only later did it become a meeting place for the “Carmelo” order.

There are also other places of interest not related to religion, including the volcanology museum of Etna, where some remains of lava material are kept.
At the Rifugio Sapienza, near the town of Nicolosi in the southern area of Etna, you will find another important ski resort. Here too (depending on the season) you can dedicate yourself to sport.
Alternatively it will be possible to take part in an excursion in the area of the summit craters: the Silvestri Mountains. They constitute the main eruptive apparatus of the volcano, and a guided excursion will take you to where the activity of the volcano emerges. Not far from them is the Sanctuary of the Madonna della Sciara, which is also open to the public and can be visited.