Day trips from Syracuse: Sicily Part 3

September, 2017

Fancy a day trip from Syracuse whilst exploring Sicily? And, day trips there are many…on this small ancient island.
Part 3 of the Sicily adventure covers four different day trips: Pozzallo and Noto, both are south of Syracuse; and Catania and Adrano, which are north of Syracuse.

I love road trips and especially, driving around a gorgeous island such as Sicily. There really is so much to explore here and the 9 days spent in Sicily, is just not enough – this time only scratches the surface of sites.

Using Syracuse as the base is a great option as this city also offers great accommodation and food, but also a plethora of archaeological sites in which to indulge.

Hiring a car is a luxury as no longer are you wasting time waiting for public transport on Sicily, although I am told buses are pretty decent in Syracuse.


Catania, Sicily, ItalyCatania

Heading north-east of Syracuse today mainly to visit the Catania War Cemetery and at least see a little of Mt Etna from a distance, whilst in Sicily.

A little on the infamous Mt Etna

Worth a mention is the largest and highest volcano in Europe, and one of the most active in the world: Mt Etna. I don’t plan to trek the volcano on this trip as it’s still a little too warm.

The last time I trekked up an active volcano was back in 2011 in Chile, which was the memorable Volcano Villarrica.

You can’t help but notice the imposing Mt Etna, which is visible whilst travelling on the highway north of Syracuse and until south of Messina.

Even from a distance, Mt Etna puffing away still conjures up enough in the imagination to ponder on what an eruption and resulting destruction from this mountain would deliver. And its ever-presence in the lives of Sicilians must be ominous…

Mt Etna, Sicily, Italy
Ever present – view through the window

Catania War Cemetery

On the short day trip to Catania to visit the WWII cemetery, then heading on to Adrano.

About seven kilometres south-west of Catania on a quiet road is the Catania War Cemetery in which lay the bodies of 2,135 Commonwealth servicemen from World War II, of which 112 are unidentified.

War cemetery, Catania, Sicily, Italy
Always too many…

Many that are buried here died during July 1943, in the heavy fighting close to Catania and also in the battle for the Simeto River bridgehead.

War cemetery, Catania, Sicily, Italy
Stark reminder – nothing ever changes

Visiting these cemeteries is always a sombre sight for me but believe a necessary one – Lest We Forget.

I never seem to have the right lens to include all the thousands of graves and show the expanse of these cemeteries, which is tragic in itself. Although not as large as some of the cemeteries in Normandy, there are always too many graves.

The cemetery’s perimeter is planted with beautiful Olive Trees, which is lovely just to sit beneath, whilst pondering the number of lost lives.

olive trees, Catania, Sicily, Italy
Perimeter for the fallen – aged olive trees

Adrano, Sicily, ItalySleepy Adrano

About a 40-minute drive inland from Catania and situated at the base of active Mt Etna, Adrano sits at the confluence of two rivers: Simeto and Salso.

A constant reminder, Mt Etna is seen from many parts of the town.

This region is renown for the growing of citrus fruit and olives of which Adrano is the commercial centre. Today, the town is quite sleepy and I get the feeling that not many tourists visit Adrano.

Sights

Arriving at Adrano from an odd direction due to following the GPS, we landed in the carpark at the scruffy end of town, just in time for when almost everything is shut, of course. After a coffee, wonderful snacks, and delicious pastries, decided it was time to walk the carbs off and explore Adrano.

Founded around 400 BC and occupied over the centuries by the Byzantine Empire, French, Arabs, and Normans, of which all have left their imprint, Adrano is no stranger to stunning architecture.

Convento di Santa Lucia

The Monastery of St Lucy is absolutely beautiful and well maintained. Constructed in 1596, monks inhabited the monastery until the early 1920s, although now is partly used by a secondary school, as the building is communal property.

Convento di Santa Lucia, Adrano, Sicily, Italy
Striking Convento di Santa Lucia

Castello Normanno

Follow the signs throughout Adrano on only a short walk from the main street, until you reach the Castello Normanno (Norman Castle), which was built on behalf of Roger I in 1070 and sits on Piazza Umberto. Adrano was saved by Roger I from Arab dominance.

The €2 entry fee is excellent value and the EU has done a great job of restoring this castle. The archaeological museum in the castle, which holds the region’s antique findings, is also excellent.

Castello Normanno, Adrano, Sicily, Italy
Castello Normanno

Make sure you make the effort to climb the dimly lit narrow stone steps to the castle’s Ramparts, which is a great viewing platform that wraps around the castle. Providing expansive views across Adrano but also out to the imposing Mt Etna in the distance.

Norman Castle, Adrano, Sicily, Italy
Aged steps
Norman Castle, Adrano, Sicily, Italy
View from the top – Monastery of St Lucy in the foreground with Mt Etna in the distance

Food

Guduria Sicily on Via Cappuccini 181, is wonderful for coffee and sublime traditional pastries. Enjoy the atmosphere here with very friendly staff and inexpensive prices.

Pastries, Adrano, Sicily, Italy
Luscious chocolate filled Sicilian Cannoli with a rum-soaked Babà on the side

Pozzallo, Sicily, ItalyPozzallo

A little over an hour’s drive south-west from Syracuse and you arrive in Pozzallo.

Dating back to the 9th century until 1836, the city has undergone many name changes including to ‘Puzzallus’ and ‘Puzzallumsince’, which also depended on the occupiers of the time. Even as late as 1935, the administration wanted to change the name once more, but this was knocked back.

This far south in Sicily, Malta is only 50NM (93 kilometres) away Pozzallo is well-placed for North African connections. A strategic position for trading with Sicily’s Mediterranean neighbours, reinforces the importance of Pozzallo’s port for over 700 years.

A ferry only takes 90 minutes to reach Malta from Pozzallo.

Sights

During Siesta time, you could be forgiven for thinking that this is a ghost town and completely deserted, apart form the occasional Bar that’s still open. I’m sure that after 4pm, everything comes alive once more.

On doing some research, I discovered that within one to three kilometres from Pozzallo are artificial cave tombs, which are dated between 2200 and 1450 BC – back to the ancient Bronze Age and the culture of Castelluccio. As I didn’t know about these whilst here, I can’t offer any feedback on experience or photos.

The seaside

Awarded the Blue Flag for its four clean and sparkling beaches, it’s no surprise that many global visitors flock here during the summer, and a pleasant stop to relax and unwind.

Why not indulge in a Gelato or Aperitivo on your visit?

Pozzallo, Sicily, Italy
Seaside frolics

Piazza della Rimembranza

A popular meeting point for locals as not only do the 46 palms frame the piazza providing much needed shade, the palms were planted to commemorate the fallen in WWI and WWII.

Palazzo Comunale Giorgio La Pira

With construction only starting in 1923 and completed by 1926, this building is relatively young for Sicily but impressive, nonetheless.

Palazzo Comunale Giorgio La Pira, Pozzallo, Sicily, Italy
Palazzo Comunale Giorgio La Pira (Pozzallo’s Comune) – seaside view
Palazzo La Pira, Pozzallo, Sicily, Italy
Palazzo Comunale Giorgio La Pira (Pozzallo’s Comune) – roadside view

Food

Caffè Del Corso on C.so V. Veneto offers wonderful pastries (€1+) and coffee (€1+) in lovely modern surrounds.


Noto, Sicily, Italy

Baroque town of Noto

Situated in Sicily’s south-eastern corner at the base of the Iblean Mountains, the striking Baroque town of Noto, is in the UNESCO World Heritage List: Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto – one of eight towns.

You can reach Noto in under an hour’s drive from Syracuse.

Sights

The very clean city of Not0 dates back to 263 BC and provides imposing and exquisite architecture to wander through and enjoy.

Pick up your map of the city at the information centre (two blocks up and on the right from L’Archo di Trionfo), which displays 44 important architectural buildings to take in on your walk. So much to see here…

The churches, palaces, and many buildings of importance were built with the city’s characteristic yellow limestone. This type of stone was chosen for it’s flexibility enabling detailed cutting of sculptures and monuments, but also because the stone provides a warm golden glow.

As the sun dips, Noto comes alive with a warm amber glow that can only be described as romantic, providing another level of beauty for the visitor.

L’Arco di Trionfo

The gateway is also known as Porta Ferdinandea and Porta Reale. Built for the arrival of King Ferdinand II of Bourbon in Noto, this commanding archway leads the way to Corso Vittorio Emanuele, which is the heart of Noto.

L'Arco di Trionfo, Noto, Sicily, Italy
Introducing L’Arco di Trionfo

The grandiose city gate is also built with yellow limestone and is relatively young, dating back to only 1838. Prior to this, a large muddy valley with trees separated Noto.

L'Arco di Trionfo, Noto, Sicily, Italy
Inviting entrance…

Church of San Francesco d’Assisi (Immacolata)

Built between 1705 and 1745, this stately church spills out three grand levels of stairs at before its entrance. Sadly, I didn’t see inside, due to its closure when visiting.

Church of San Francesco d'Assisi (Immacolata), Noto, Sicily, Italy
Immacolata

Chiesa di San Domenico

Built between 1703 and 1727 as a convent church of the Dominican fathers, this flamboyant design surrounded by trees, is both opulent and elegant.

 

Chiesa di San Domenico, Noto, Sicily, Italy
Wonderful stone artistry
Chiesa di San Domenico, Noto, Sicily, Italy
Intricate craftsmanship – Front of Cathedral of San Nicolò

Basilica del SS. Salvatore

With construction commencing in 1767, stunning, is a word that springs to mind when entering this Basilica in which its internal decorations commenced in 1794 and completed over two years.

With intricate pictorial representations by Palermo Ermenegildo Martorana and stucco works by Giovanni Gianforma, this place of worship detains any observer.

 

Basilica del SS. Salvatore, Noto, Sicily, Italy
Dazzling interior

Palazzo Ducezio

Although this city hall looks centuries old, the building was designed in 1746, but only completed in 1830 – 17th century palaces were the inspiration for this design.

Lovely just to sit on the hall’s steps immersed within the shaded stone arches and watch the world pass you by…

Basicila di San Nicolò

In the Sicilian Baroque style, this stately cathedral’s construction began in the early 18th century with completion in 1776. Many tour groups particularly love to stop at this Basilica and it’s not hard to see why.

Basicila di San Nicolò, Noto, Sicily, Italy
Baroque splendour

La chiesa del Santissimo Crocifisso

A relatively young church for Noto, with a design from the early eighteenth century although the dome was built in 1901, the unfinished facade crates a lovely photo opportunity. Not sure why the facade is not yet finished?

Random street scenes

A couple of random street scenes as a taste of Noto…

Archway, Noto, Sicily, Italy
Archway to heaven?
Barber, Noto, Sicily, Italy
Espresso and a shave?

Food

Many Bars, restaurants, Gelateria, and Gelato carts grace both sides Corso Vittorio Emanuele. Typically, eating off this main tourist strip is the better way to go for authentic and best quality food.

Guduria

Guduria on Via Capuccini 181 serves amazing snacks (€1+), great coffee (€1+), incredible pastries and gourmet desserts (€1+), in a lovely friendly atmosphere. Super cheap and great quality.

Cafe Komavy

Take a stroll on Via Napoli, 32 to this cafe, for another good snack break at starting prices of €1 for a tasty savoury or sweet indulgence.


Returning to Syracuse

After each day’s road trip jaunt exploring all that Sicily has to offer, there is nothing better than returning to the abode in Syracuse, putting the feet up and just relaxing, before the evening’s meal and frivolity around the city.

Exploring the Island of Ortigia in Syracuse more is always an option, especially as it’s a short walk from the city centre.

Visit Nilla’s Photography for more global images. More posts on Italy.

Berlin airlines, Adrano, Sicily, Italy
Sicily anyone?
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54 thoughts on “Day trips from Syracuse: Sicily Part 3

Add yours

    1. well, actually I already know the region, I used to live there but in a few days I will go back there and visit Siracusa as well, I was looking for those atmospheres because with my body I am in France but with my head I am already there… and you definitely helped 😊

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Hey great you lived there and fantastic my post helped you return your head to Sicily. Make sure to read Part 1 and 2 of my Sicily posts. 🙂 I would love to go back and as I’m in Calabria, there’s no excuse.

      Like

  1. Italy is so beautiful. Went to Sicily… 30 years ago… did climb the Etna a bit… 🙂
    Another place where we have crossed path.
    I’m really glad you have managed to secure a stay in Italy.
    (A life-long dream of mine)
    Arrivederci

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a beautiful part of Italy and I’d love to return as 9 days wasn’t near enough.
      Perhaps it’s because we both travel…a lot.
      I hope to stay here much longer but I’ll see what happens in August as I need to re-apply for my Residency visa, which expires mid-October.
      Buona Serata 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I still can’t get over this nonsense of the Residency visa… Sometimes I think the world has gone insane overnight… We almost got stranded in Singapore because, though French we had to apply for a visa exemption in Canada, where we had to make as unannounced stop-over. Getting the visa via Internet on China Southern’s counter. Ridiculous.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. A money churning machine and designed to make it difficult for people to stay. I guess most countries have this system these days.
      Singapore isn’t such a bad place to be stranded, although quite expensive.

      Liked by 1 person

    4. Yes and no. I always “write” everything in my head, before committing to paper (screen). Fiction particularly. I structure everything in my head, and then write. I already have a pretty good idea of the structure of what I want to write on “fusion”. (Weird ain’t it?) 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    5. Well, you can see some Egypt photos on yesterday’s post. A reminiscence on my father’s hundredth birthday. (Wish he’d been alive to see the post) 🙂
      (And I do hope your journals are safe)

      Liked by 1 person

    6. The digitalizing took 3-5 years overall. Scanning all album pages, then editing each photo, then double-check the negatives And restore some shots in very bad condition. The history I know almost by heart. (I have a veeery good memory. Too good sometimes when there are things you wish to forget…)
      So now the photos are catalogued, sorted out chronologically, with captions! It’s just a matter of selecting and then writing up. 🙂
      (Might do a book one day?)
      Thanks for your visits and comments.

      Liked by 1 person

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