Visit Etna medieval castles and taste Sicily finest wines
Your trip to Italy is approaching. Wondering what are the best things to do in Sicily and which Etna tour is not to be missed during your stay? You would not want to miss out on the charm of medieval Sicily and its unique volcanic landscape. Not to mention the delicious Sicilian gastronomy.
The visit to the medieval castles of Etna is an itinerary whom tribute the art, history, the beauties of the natural landscape of Sicily. A tailored 2-day tour in Sicily exploring the surround of Mount Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe, focusing to its historical Castles and best produce with fine wine tastings.
The Castles represented a very important reality, and in some ways a threats, for the villages to which they were linked. Often built to control and subdue the villages more than for their own protection. The strategic position of these castles, at the river mouth of Alcantara, allowed to control the old Roman road. It also represented the ideal observation point of the nearby city of Tauromenion (Taormina).
- Tour in 2 days
- Visit to the Castles on the South and North-East side of Etna and to a vineyard
- Visit to the Castles of the southwest side of the Etna volcano
- Typical Sicilian lunch in a wine estate on Mount Etna
- Accommodation and dinner based on typical Sicilian products
- Sicilian cooking class
When to book, how long before? We do not do mass tourism. So to make sure you have room, it's best to book quickly.
There are 2 options for the castles and wine tour
- With your own vehicle you reach our meeting point in Giarre. You park your car and get into our luxury vehicle (Mercedes GL or V-Class Extra Long) with a dedicated driver (there is free public parking). We offer you breakfast. You will have breakfast like the real Sicilians, in the best local pastry shop.
- Pick-up directly at your hotel (Catania-Taormina zones) by luxury vehicle (Mercedes GL or V-Class Extra Long) with dedicated driver. Breakfast is always offered.
- Departure from your hotel or meeting point
- Visit to the Castles of the South and North-East side of Mount Etna
- Lunch in a wine estate on Mount Etna
- Visit of a vineyard with its cellars
- Visit to the Castles of the Southwest side of the Etna volcano
- Sicilian cooking class in an agritourism
- Lunch prepared by yourself based on typical Sicilian products including Bronte Pistachio
The Etna Castles circuit is dedicated to all lovers of Sicily and Sicilian cuisine. Discover the castles around the Etna volcano in Sicily, wines and Sicilian specialties not to be missed with our 2-day all-inclusive cultural and food and wine tour. The region is renowned for its excellent fertile soil. During this excursion you will discover the best Sicilian wines and taste the flavors of our traditional cuisine.
Day 1, Etna tour - The medieval Castles
The first day focuses on the Castles and vineyards settled on the north side of Etna volcano. A visit to unveil the best places around the volcano with its castles, wines and finest products of the Sicilian gastronomy.
Lunch will take place in a wine estate of Etna, where you will be guided around the vineyard and its cellar, sipping the delicious wines, all enriched by a lunch based on Sicilian specialties. In the evening we will reach the accommodation for dinner (always based on typical Sicilian products) and the overnight.
Day 2, Etna tour - The medieval Castles
After breakfast, the second day of the visit begins along the south-west side of volcano. Etna west slopes is known as the "green gold" region, thanks to the world famous Etna's pistachio. Bronte's pistachios are particularly notorious for the inimitable flavour, fragrance and pronounced taste.
The castles were built by the Normans for defense and control. The main intentions of Frederick II of Swabia were to combinine military functions and symbolic valence . A symbolic emblem to reduce the bishop power and increase respect of the imperial authority. Intentions visible by comparing the size of the castle Ursino to the cathedral of Catania.
Built on the model of the donjon, as in Paternò, Adrano and Motta, these buildings looked like towers. However, besides the obvious military functions, they also served as housing.
After the visit to the Castles, we continue the journey to a local farmhouse for lunch, where you will be joining for a Sicilian cooking class. Under the leadership of a passionate chef you will be cooking a delicious lunch using the finest products. Lunch will consist of your masterpieces: starters, main course, dessert, accompanied by an Etna wine.
Castles and dungeons around Etna volcano
Castello Ursino in Catania
The Castello Ursino was built between 1239 and 1250, as part of the fortification campaign led by Frederick II of Swabia in eastern Sicily. Since 1934 the castle houses the municipal collections, including the archaeological section and the art gallery. This site represents the first residential settlements in Catania, going back to the prime phase of the Greek Polis of Katane. The devastating lava flow of 1669 eruption covered the bastions and encircled the whole fortress, altering the coastline forever, leading to the loss of the strategic position of the fortress.
Norman Castle in Aci Castello
The fortification rises over a basalt promontory, overlooking the Ionian Sea, built in defense of the Gulf and the city of Catania. Was the fulcrum of the development of the territory of Aci in the Middle Ages. The fortification is of uncertain origin but some of the surrounding lava flows are dating back to 1169. Currently, it houses a civic museum. One of its terraces is houses a botanical garden with species coming from all over the world. The promontory consists of submarine lava flows, whose radiometric age is about 500,000 years old, considered among the earliest eruptions of Etna.
Norman Castle in Motta Sant'Anastasia
The Motta Sant'Anastasia Castle stands on a panoramic and strategic promontory. It was built between 1070 and 1074 on a 65 meters high volcanic neck, or volcanic plug is an object created when magma hardens within a vent on an active volcano. The village is located aside Mount Etna, 12 km from Catania. This Norman Castle was built in 1072 to ensure protection over the Simeto Valley against the Islamic incursions. Around the castle, the population began to increase, thanks to the many mercenaries who followed the Norman conquerors, attracted by the privileges that were granted to them.
Norman Castle in Adrano
The Norman castle of Adrano is a tower built under Count Roger I of Sicily in the eleventh century. The castles of Adrano, Paternò and Motta were part of a Norman defense system aimed at controlling the Simeto River. Today the castle houses the archaeological museum of Etna. The archaeological remains occupy almost entirely the four floors of the castle, reconstructing the history of Adrano and the territory of Etna from the Neolithic to the Saracen-Norman era.
Nelson Castle in Bronte
The Abbey of Santa Maria di Maniace (also called Nelson Castle) is a building located between Bronte and Maniace. It was founded by Queen Margaret of Navarre, wife of William I of Sicily, in the twelfth century. It was given in 1799 by King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies to the British admiral Horatio Nelson as tribute for having repressed the Neapolitan Republic, thus saving life and the kingdom.
Castle Manfredi in Maletto
Built in 1263 on a ridge of sandstone rock, by Count Manfredi Maletta. It was partially destroyed by the 1693 earthquake and then abandoned. Later the tower was enlarged and fortified with military functions. From the top of the castle you can admire a breathtaking view from Etna to Nebrodi mountains and the surrounding valley.
Castle Svevo in Randazzo
Castello Svevo or "Hohenstaufen Castle" in Randazzo, is located on a hight lava rock. Already existing at the time of Frederick II, Duke of Swabia, it probably occupied an extension larger than the present one. It was the executioner's seat of Val Demone, becoming a place of detention for prisoners. A sinister building, with tiny cells, a torture chamber, the well for those who were sentenced to be bricked up alive. Currently hosting art exhibitions, an interesting collection of Sicilian puppets. Since 1998 it houses the archaeological museum Paolo Vagliasindi.
Castle of Lauria in Castiglione di Sicilia
The Lauria Castle, called Grande, together with the small castle that is located at the same altitude, dominates the walled town of Castiglione di Sicilia. From the castle, also known as Castrum Leonis, you can view the whole upper part of the Alcantara Valley up to Randazzo and the northern side of Etna. At the base of the castle cliff there is also a medieval bridge on the Alcantara river and what remains of some mills, right next to the fourteenth-century church of San Nicola, famous for its medieval frescoes.
Arabic Norman Castle in Calatabiano
Calatabiano Castle is a very important monumental archaeological site. It has preserved for centuries the historical and cultural memory of Eastern Sicily and the Mediterranean. This ancient Byzantine fortress set on the top of a hill at 220 meters above sea level. Rich in history, accessible by a panoramic lift or a fascinating nature trail. The castle of Calatabiano, overlooking the city of the same name, dominates the estuary of Alcantara, and offers a unique panorama with breathtaking views of Taormina and Etna.
Pick up / drop off
- At your hotel between Catania and Taormina (please give me the exact address of the pick-up). You will be picked-up with our luxury vehicle (Mercedes GL or V-Class Extra Long) with dedicated driver.
- Giarre motorway exit, departure from the Etna Fuel gas station. https://goo.gl/maps/URpKmqQDdd22 You arrive with your own vehicle, park it in the parking lot (there is free public parking) and get into our luxury vehicle (Mercedes GL or V-Class Extra Long) with dedicated driver. To reach the Etna Fuel gas station: take the Catania - Messina motorway, GIARRE motorway exit. Pass the toll, at the roundabout take the first exit on the right. After 300 mt on the right side you will find thegas station.
- Other pick-up places: quote on request.
Conditions of sale
You can cancel and be reimbursed free of charge up to 1 month before the excursion.