Volcanic islands, UNESCO world heritage and pure dolce vita feeling

The "European Caribbean".

11 February 2020

Sicily & The Aeolian Islands, Italy

The Mediterranean island owes its nickname, the "European Caribbean", to its unspoilt nature, beautiful beaches and crystal clear waters. Significant archaeological sites, authentic Italian cuisine and excellent wines complete the dolce vita feeling.

All Mafia, or what? When you think of Sicily, you often have old prejudices like the Cosa Nostra in the back of your mind. But the queen of the Mediterranean islands is a real insider tip today, because it offers an almost untouched dolce vita and genuine originality. Sicilian cuisine goes far beyond pizza and pasta - which, by the way, are nevertheless prepared to absolute perfection. The interior of the island is characterised by hills and mountainous terrain, while the coasts are dotted with idyllic rocky and sandy beaches with crystal-clear turquoise waters. But it is not only the Sicilian cuisine and nature that is impressive. There are also some archaeological and historical sights on the largest island in the Mediterranean. The royal tombs in the cathedral of the capital Palermo are probably known to everyone. We also recommend a trip to the small town of Taormina. There you will find, among other things, one of the oldest ancient theatres in Sicily. In addition, there is a breathtaking panoramic view of the volcano Etna. And who would have thought that even one of the most important ancient Greek cities is located in Sicily? In the archaeological sites of Agrigento, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you can visit the remains of the city of Akragas with its amazingly well-preserved temples. Also designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site is the necropolis of Pantalica, comprising more than 5000 chamber tombs from the late Sicilian Bronze Age and early Iron Age. The Parco Archeologico della Neapoli with its 5th century Greek theatre is also worth a visit. North of Sicily are the twenty small Aeolian Islands, also called the Lipari Islands, seven of which are inhabited. These jewels of the Mediterranean are of volcanic origin and are also UNESCO World Heritage Sites. To this day, Sicily is home to active volcanoes: Mount Etna, for example, is the highest active volcano in Europe. The active volcano Stromboli is also located on a small island off Sicily, where only a few hundred people live and which is a popular destination for tourists. Even though people here live in constant fear that one of the volcanoes will erupt, it is thanks to the mineral-rich volcanic soil that Sicily is an extremely fertile area and where, for example, the vines for some of the world's most sought-after wines grow very well. One of the most famous red grape varieties with most likely Sicilian origins is the "Nero d'Avola". Translated, the name means "black from Avola", which is a reference to the usually deep dark color of the wine made from it. The lava rock, which is over thousands of years old, also provides exciting natural spectacles such as the gorges Gole dell'Alcantara, which are over 20 metres deep. The archipelago presents nature in all its diversity - from barren lunar landscapes to lush green meadows. Bellissimo!

Culture and seaside holidays - picturesque coasts and crystal-clear water: in addition to the impressive history of Sicily, the Aeolian Islands are an absolute dream destination in the Mediterranean.


Dimora delle Balze, Noto


Mamma mia, che bello! Noto is located near Syracuse in the south of Sicily: the medieval city has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2002. About half an hour from both cities in the island's interior is the Hotel Dimora delle Balze, a traditional property dating back to the 1800's. Full of charm, the walls tell stories about times gone by when it served as a lavish manor house. Its large courtyard, the huge garden and not least the walls have been lovingly restored. Now the 25-hectare 5-star hotel is furnished with numerous vintage and design elements that spread Mediterranean flair - an elegant blend of southern tradition and modern style. In the in-house restaurant, authentic Sicilian cuisine at the highest level makes gourmet hearts beat faster. The Dimora delle Balze is also the ideal starting point for exploring the south of Sicily. Especially recommendable: the 7 km long, dreamlike coastline in the reserve of Vendicari, which has been awarded four Blue Sails. Courageous nature lovers will also get their money's worth in the nature reserve "Cavagrande del Cassibile", which offers great adventure potential with its gorges and caves. Central yet quiet, the Dimora delle Balze is a perfect luxury base amidst the countless possibilities that the surrounding area has to offer.

Double room from € 402 / night | dimoradellebalze.com.


Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo, Taormina


It's like being in a private Sicilian family estate at the posh Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo - with a breathtaking view towards Etna:. For over 100 years, this elegant hotel in the heart of Taormina has enchanted its guests. Not least because of its dreamlike location on the east coast of Sicily, as it sits enthroned on a cliff, high up in the rolling hills. Once upon a time, the German Kaiser Wilhelm II strode through the doors of the Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo to escape the cold winter in proper style. Personalities such as English writer D. H. Lawrence gave free rein to their creativity here, while gazing out over the coast in the panoramic Literary Terrace bar. The hotel is still a great hideaway for those seeking peace and quiet, as it is a place to reside with grandeur and, above all, privacy. The noble rooms and suites are full of Italian finesse - marble bathrooms and Sicilian ceramics underline the elegant baroque flair. Create unique memories as you soar over Etna in a helicopter, or sample Sicilian delicacies at the Timeo restaurant while the sea glistens picturesquely in nearby Naxos Bay. The discreet wellness centre in the terraced gardens provides luxurious relaxation.

Double room from € 476 / night | belmond.com


Therasia Resort Sea & Spa, Vulcano


Ever slept on a volcanic island? You really can, on the island of Vulcano, which is part of the Aeolian Islands. There you will find the five-star Therasia Resort Sea & Spa, which is unique due to its wild charm combined with Mediterranean architecture. Typical Sicilian hospitality makes you feel welcome here. And that view: The soft silhouettes of the archipelago's other islands on the horizon rise like gems from the Sicilian sea. Inside the 97 rooms, you'll find flowing fabrics in natural colors, fine details in wrought iron, and lava stone and Sicilian cotto tiles in the luxurious bathrooms. The restaurants offer a diverse selection of gourmet dishes for vegetarians, meat lovers and pizza lovers. And then there's the "Il Cappero" restaurant, which proudly holds a Michelin star. Chef Giuseppe Biuso comes from Palermo and does not forget his roots when cooking - so he conjures up typical Sicilian cuisine with that certain something in his temple of taste. It's not just romantic sunset dinners that make Therasia Resort Sea & Spa the perfect getaway for couples. In addition to a luxurious couple's massage, many activities such as snorkeling and quad biking are offered.

DZ from € 205 / night | therasiaresort.it


Capofaro Locanda & Malvasia, Malfa


Capofaro is nature, volcano, land and sea. On Salina, one of the Aeolian Islands, luxury is the simplicity of beautiful things. The inn was born out of the hospitality of the Tasca d'Almerita family, coupled with their love of wine and the sea. The 27 rooms and suites with private terraces overlooking the ocean or the vineyards, surrounded by bougainvillea, allow guests to immediately experience the tranquility of this extraordinary place. The lighthouse, charming sentinel over the sea since the mid-19th century, gives the inn part of its name. Malvasia grows on the fertile volcanic soil and is the noblest vine of the Aeolian Islands. It yields aromatic dry wine that is a favorite to serve at the ristorante. Here, Sicilian tradition meets contemporary creativity - resulting in unique taste experiences. Capofaro is the ideal place for those seeking tranquility and immersion in the unique world of wine. Private yoga and Pilates classes provide relaxation, as do luxurious massages and the spacious pool. Along the coast, swim on the inn's private beach and take boat trips into the archipelago. Whether it's scuba diving, a visit to the Stromboli volcano or a gourmet picnic at sea, you'll have your heart's desire catered for.

Double room from € 270 / night | capofaro.it


Whether it's a gourmet restaurant, a cool bar or a sailing trip around the Lipari Islands - we show you five special places for an unforgettable summer holiday.

1st Morgana Lounge and Bar

The top location for night owls. In the middle of Taormina, all those who appreciate the work of an excellent bartender get their money's worth.

2. osteria Rossodivino

This restaurant in Taormina, run by two sisters, offers a more exclusive cuisine than you would expect from a typical osteria. Look forward to freshly caught fish and seafood and hand-picked Italian wines.

3. ristorante Regina Lucia

A gourmet restaurant serving Sicilian cuisine with a modern interpretation. The location couldn't be better either: right in Piazza Duomo di Ortigia in Syracuse with a view of the cathedral.

4. la Madia, Licata

This top restaurant has been awarded two Michelin stars. Located south of Agrigento, La Madia is the place for excellent Sicilian cuisine with an original twist.

5. boat trip to the Lipari Islands

Absolutely recommended is a private boat tour to the Lipari Islands. Discover secret coves and grottos on Lipari and Vulcano and swim in the crystal clear waters while the sun slowly disappears into the sea.

Picture credits: Matteo Carassale; Dimora delle Balze; Tyson Sadlo; Therasia Resort & Spa; Hotel Photography SRL; Unsplash (Alexis Subias; Samuel Ferrara; Ruth Throughton; Andrew Neel); Jay Gullotta; La Madia; Morgana Lounge Bar

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