Taormina, Catania, and Mt. Etna
Taormina is Sicily’s most popular tourist destination. From the Roman period to the present day it has been a destination for the rich and famous. The Greco-Roman theater that overlooks the town has one of the finest views in all of Sicily, the shopping is world class, and the beach has some of the clearest water on the island.
Catania is the second largest city in Sicily and sits just under the active volcano of Mt. Etna. It has occasionally been erased by lava flows from this very volcano and has been rebuilt with black lava stone, giving it a unique appearance. It is home to the splendid Bellini Opera House, Roman amphitheatre and baths, some delicate baroque churches, an excellent WWII museum, and some of the most lively street markets, cafes, and nightlife in Sicily, and the Fontana dell’Elefante, a silly black lavastone elephant fountain (1736).
Mt. Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano is the great grumpy grandfather/grandmother of Sicily, and a font of myths since before the ancient Greeks. It can be visited easily by car 2/3rds of the way up, then by cable car or 4WD to near the top. Of course, anyone with a day, sturdy shoes, and good lungs can walk up. Even though she is always steaming.