September is the best month to visit Sicily, the island is just under the “Italian boot” and it is separated by the Messina Strait. September is still quite hot in Sicily, the sea is crystalline blue and its nature is unique. The island was conquered by Normans, Spaniards, French, Arabs… a melting pot with great cultural and natural heritage, giving to Sicily an exotic appeal. Catania is the biggest town under the Volcano Etna.
Catania is also a cradle of LGBTQ+ experiences, as it is considered the most gay-friendly town in the island. Catania is also the place where tolerance allowed youngsters to meet and love near an iconic tree … and sadly where the Second World War imposed a hard exile for many gay men.
Nine days in Sicily, in Catania, with excursions to the Volcano Etna on 4×4 Jeep as a full day excursion and a sea tour to Taormina the pearl of the Mediterranean, a “buen retiro” for many gay artists during the 19th and 20th century… from here a stunning view on the Messina Strait: if you are lucky, you can easily see Reggio Calabria on the other side of it.
You will also enjoy a one-day excursion to Syracuse and to the Island of Ortygia: the most famous Greek theatre in the world, still in use and the breath-taking nature of Ortygia Island framed into green-and-blue shades of the oldest quarter of Syracuse. Then the small town of Noto, the capital of the astonishing Sicilian baroque architecture.
You will enjoy the sunbathing and the swimming in one of the beaches of Catania, cool down with almond granitas and natural drinks, share your activities with friends and finish your trip with a typical Sicilian dinner pairing with Etna-wine tastings.
You will have a local gay guide with you who will lead the group.
Day 1 - Thursday, September 15, 2022
Catania has an international airport (CTA): you can easily fly from Milan or Rome airports.
• Shuttles and taxis are available to take you to Plaza Hotel, only 10 minutes from the town centre, which is a great example of Baroque architecture. The Fountain of the Elephant is its icon, as well as the castle and the marvelous cathedral.
• Check in at Plaza Hotel, Catania.
• 6:30/7:00 PM Meet & greet with your local guide, Emanuele, who will brief you with all infos about your stay.
• Free evening
Day 2 - Friday, September 16, 2022
• Take your time to cool down and relax.
• Catania has a rocky coastline. Nevertheless, sunbathing is possible, thanks to platforms on the rocks which make it simple to reach the sea. Do not forget your snorkeling equipment if you like diving!
• 3:00 PM – The escorted tour of the town with your tour leader and guide starts: during three hours, you will discover how the LGBTQ+ community thrived, but also how it was harassed during centuries: the “Arvulu Russu“ (the big tree, in dialect) is the place where the gay community used to meet and gather. Here love stories began and finished and it is where the gay community tried to protect itself against Fascism. Also Castle Ursino and the Cathedral have so much to tell!
• Rest of the day free.
Day 3 - Saturday, September 17, 2022
• 8.00 AM: departure for Volcano Etna. The tour is in English. Trekking shoes and clothes are mandatory.
• Ready for a completely different kind of off-road Jeep tour adventure? Discover one of the most active volcanoes in the world with our Etna Jeep Tour. We will pick you up at your accommodation with one of our off-road vehicles (including the popular Land Rover 110) and heading in the direction of the volcano.
• We are passing idyllic Sicilian villages and some of Sicily’s most famous wine-growing regions and whilst gaining altitude, you will learn a lot about the country, the population and their culture. You will certainly remember the impressive play of colours of the black lava and the extraordinary vegetation on Mount Etna. As we pass by the lava flows of recent years, we will see centuries-old forests and we will stop at some of the most beautiful places on Mount Etna. During an easy but impressive hike of approx. 45 min. on the craters in the surrounding, you will see the unique landscape with the old and new lava.
• Of course, a competent English-speaking guide will accompany you during this guided trip on Mount Etna and you will learn a lot about the history of the volcano with its myths and the current situation there. You will continue the adventurous jeep tour on an off-road track through the pine forests and you will get further insight into the unique and diverse flora and fauna which inhabits the lava rocks.
• Like the speleologists, you will be equipped with helmets and flashlights to explore one of the famous lava caves on foot with your guide. These caves were created by a lava flow and they still have special properties. Centuries ago, residents close to Mount Etna used these caves for the ice production.
• A typical Sicilian lunch awaits you in a mountain chalet on Mount Etna. With traditional antipasti, pasta of the season and a delicious dessert, accompanied by water, Sicilian wine and a good coffee you will get to know the local cuisine.
• Well-rested, the adventure continues to the famous Alcantara-Gorge, which was formed thousands of years ago in the north of the volcano by a lava flow. Along the way, we drive through the famous Sicilian mountain village “Castiglione di Sicilia”. There you will get to see one of Sicily’s most famous wine-growing regions and you will enjoy an impressive view along the wine route.
• After your arrival at the Alcantara-Gorge, you will discover the crystal-clear mountain river, which flows between the basaltic rocks. The rock formations are unique, as the lava cooled faster due to the cold water. During the summer season you will have the opportunity, to wade barefoot through the very cold water or to take a refreshing bath.
• After all these unforgettable impressions you will return to hotel.
• Rest of the day free.
Day 4 - Sunday, September 18, 2022
• Chill down and relax! Sunday is on your own.
• Sunbath, visit the town, go shopping, stroll around, try a typical sweet like the “cassata” (pastry roll with ricotta cheese and candied fruits) or sit outside drinking a smooth almond milk!
Day 5 - Monday, September 19, 2022
• Today is dedicated to a full-day private boat tour to Taormina, the “Pearl of the Mediterranean” and the evocative village of Castelmola, where you will taste the best “cannolo” and “pasta alla Norma”.
• Sunbathing and snorkeling equipment are mandatory.
• Enjoy this 5-hour private guided tour to the most important Sicilian resorts. Our guide will lead your group to explore amazing places such as the main street Corso Umberto, Palazzo Corvaja, St. Catherina church, Odeon theater, and Duomo. In Castelmola after the walking tour in this small and characteristic village we will stop in a typical restaurant to taste some traditional dishes.
• After a day at sea, back to Catania.
• Rest of the day free.
Day 6 - Tuesday, September 20, 2022
• Chill down and relax!
• Sunbath, visit the town, go shopping, stroll around.
Day 7 - Wednesday, September 21, 2022
• You get picked up from hotel and plunged into the most marvelous Sicilian history. From the Greek culture of the performing arts in open theatre to the evocative baroque town of Noto, pairing with the beautiful island of Ortygia.
• On a private tour of 8/9-hours you include the archeological park of Neapolis. Marvel at the beauty of Ortygia Island, and visit the small town of Noto to see its unique style of Sicilian Baroque architecture.
Day 8 - Thursday, September 22, 2022
• This is your last day in Catania.
• Go back to the places you liked, go shopping, discover hidden gems of Catania on your own.
• 8:00 PM – Dinner in a typical restaurant of Sicilian cuisine.
Day 9 - Friday, September 22, 2022
• Check out Catania hotel
• End of services.