Travels

1. Mount Etna

Etna is the tallest active volcano in Europe. Fantastic views of ocean, or you can enjoy walking around the old crater. Consider a jeep excursion to the upper regions, which are covered with snow for four months of the year. Dress warmly in summer too; it's always cool at the top. (Etna is viewed from the Greek amphitheatre at Taormina). You need to stay the night in or around the volcano as the one day excurssion leaves early morning so book in advance or hire a car and drive up there yourself!

2. Palermo

Cathedral, Catacombe dei Cappuccini, Gesu Church, San Giovanni degli Eremiti, Cappella Palatina, Palazzo dei Normanni, Museo Archeologico, and Quattro Canti Sicily's regional capital and largest city is perhaps best compared to a rough, uncut jewel. You'll find this bustling city chaotic and dusty yet interesting. The historic environment of this former royal capital of kings and emirs is largely Baroque with some stunning nuggets of medieval architecture. The Norman Palace, with its Byzantine Palatine Chapel (a Monreale in miniature), is built upon Phoenician walls. There are a number of monasteries and castles, and a magnificent cathedral, as well as art galleries and a good archeological museum. Monreale is only a few kilometers outside town. Palermo is a great western-Sicilian "base" for excursions (day trips) to Cefal, Erice, Segesta, Agrigento and the wine country.

3. Catania

Catania is known for ancient monuments of Roman Age, baroque and historical churches, palaces, liberty style mansions, urban parks, and numerous other sites. It is also famous for its La Playa beach.

The Earthquake of 1693, which devastated most of Catania, the town was re-built in the Baroque style. The church of Santa Maria della Rotonda is founded on the remains of Roman baths. The lava-and-marble Roman Amphitheatre, part of which can be seen in Piazza Stesicoro, dates to the second century AD.

Piazza del Duomo is Catania's principal square, at the end of busy Via Etnea (named for the volcano), and most of the town's tourist attractions are close by. In the centre is a much-photographed eighteenth-century lava statue of an elephant, supporting an Egyptian obelisk. The Duomo itself is one of Catania's grandest sights. The facade dates from the Baroque rebuilding of the town, although some of the earlier church did survive the earthquake.

4. Scopello

Old tuna fishing village & couscous. Is not more than a hamlet above the coast in Sicily's north-western corner. But for several years now, this low-key destination has been in vogue not just with local people but with trend-setters including film directors and magazine photographers. The picturesque little spot may become a victim of its own success, but in the meantime it is still a remarkably scenic spot for a swim, a leisurely meal or an afternoon excursion.

You can get a bus from Palermo to Scopello. Two different companies run daily services from Castellammare to Scopello, and in the summer some services continue on an extra couple of miles to the Zingaro nature reserve. The buses only run a few times a day, so you will need to study timetables in advance. Alternatively, from Castellammare you may be able to book a taxi or organised excursion for a surprisingly reasonable price. Transport: There are also a few trains a day from Trapani and Palermo, but as often is the case in Sicily, the bus is perhaps a more reliable mode of transport.