When you first see Catania’s medieval Castle Ursino in the middle of town, you might wonder just why it wasn’t built in a more strategic location. In fact, it was – and though the castle didn’t move, the earth around it did.
Since the popular novels were turned into a long-running television series, “Inspector Montalbano” has been inspiring travelers in Sicily to visit filming locations.
Many visitors to Sicily are instantly aware of the island’s enormous volcano, Mt. Etna, near the eastern coast. Just to the north of Etna, however, is a range of mountains called the Nebrodi – and between the two the Alcantara River has carved out the Alcantara Gorges.
In this guide, we’ve handpicked the very best of what makes Italy so special — both on and off the beaten path — so you can travel like an insider in Italy!
The town of Monreale sits just south of Palermo on a hill, and its most popular attraction is a cathedral known for its stunning mosaics. The cathedral itself is also an excellent example of a particular type of architecture.
Volcanic soil is fertile soil. This is one of the many reasons people keep returning to the slopes of active volcanoes to grow their crops, despite the inherent risks. Mt. Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano, has been the site of viticulture for thousands of years, and you can go wine tasting around Mt. Etna today.
Like much of Catania and the surrounding area, the Catania Cathedral has seen more than its share of destruction. It has been rebuilt twice, and stands as one of the city’s most beautiful churches today.
The first Godfather film is a Francis Ford Coppola classic, beloved by millions, and although the majority of the story takes place in New York there is an important Sicilian component. There are some critical scenes filmed in Sicily at locations you can still visit today, essentially unspoiled and looking as they did in the early 1970s when the movie was made.
The seaside resort town of Taormina is a short distance from Mt. Etna, the volcano that sits near Sicily’s eastern shore. But there’s another nearby volcano that’s in a near-constant state of erupting, and it gives you a chance to see some of Italy’s most beautiful islands, too. That island volcano is Stromboli.