A Roman masterpiece
150km from Verdura Resort
Ancient Roman mosaics. Pretty palazzos. A giant Baroque cathedral. Piazza Armerina holds centuries worth of Sicilian secrets. Emerging proudly from a hilltop in southern Sicily, the striking town invites discovery. Its crowning glory is Villa Romana del Casale, a former Roman hunting lodge that’s home to exquisitely preserved mosaics depicting everything from daily life to dramatic mythological scenes. Perhaps most famous of all are the scenes of women exercising in the earliest-known ‘bikinis’. Once you’ve basked in the majesty of the villa, take time to stroll around Piazza Armerina’s smart 18th-century Duomo and Palazzo Trigona, formerly owned by Sicily’s powerful Trigona family.
A walled wonder
120km from Verdura Resort
One of the most charming and best-preserved cities in Sicily, Erice emerges from the peak of Monte Erice, overlooking Tripani harbour. Surrounded by ancient walls on three sides, the historic commune is all cobbled streets, tiny squares and enchanting churches. The commanding Norman Castle of Venus that presides over Erice from its uppermost summit is well worth the climb. Spend a morning exploring narrow alleyways before being tempted by Erice’s famous almond biscuits and pastries stacked up in the windows of local pasticcerie.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site
280km from Verdura Resort
Once upon a time, Syracuse was the largest city in the ancient world; the epicentre of historic civilisation. Today, its grandiose past endures at the Archaeological Park Neapolis with its Roman amphitheatre, the Orecchio di Dionisio ear-shaped grotto and Ara di Gerone II, a monolithic sacrificial altar to Hieron II. Located in Sicily’s south-eastern corner, facing the Ionian Sea, Syracuse invites exploration. The city’s heart is in the tiny islet of Ortigia, filled with medieval buildings, quaint trattorias and lively markets.
Europe’s tallest active volcano
250km from Verdura Resort
A Sicilian force of nature, Mount Etna steams, grumbles and occasionally emits golden jets of red-hot lava. This awe-inspiring active volcano in eastern Sicily straddles a lunar-like landscape of black sand and volcanic rock. It’s a truly majestic sight. When staying at Verdura Resort, you can enjoy a thrilling helicopter ride to the summit of Mount Etna. An expert guide will meet you at the peak and lead you around the otherworldly volcanic craters.
CASTELLO DELLA COLOMBAIA, TRAPANI
The gateway to the Egadi Islands
130km from Verdura Resort
A commanding fortress on an islet of Trapani port, Castello della Colombaia – Castle of the Dovecote – dates back to the Middle Ages. It’s proudly stood guard on Sicily’s north-western coast for centuries, defending the bustling port town of Trapani from invaders. The gateway to the Egadi Islands, Trapani enchants, in particular with its restored old town, the splendid Basilica-Sanctuary of Maria Santissima Annunziata and picturesque marina, perfect for strolling along in the evening. Be sure to sample Trapani’s excellent seafood.
Sicilian la dolce vita
270km from Verdura Resort
Overlooked by the dramatic Mount Etna and spilling across two bays, Taormina is an elegant resort town brimming with stylish boutiques and cultural hotspots. So beautiful is Taormina, Goethe once called it a “patch of paradise”. Echoes of Taormina’s past linger with a marvellous Greek theatre, 10th-century Palazzo Corvaja and 13th-century Cathedral of Saint Nicolò. Meander around Piazza Duomo’s fountain, pause with a gelato in the Duke of Cesarò gardens and shop antiques and handicrafts at Port Messina.
CALA ROSSA, FAVIGNANA
A paradisiacal beach
140km from Verdura Resort
A vivid cerulean curve of Tyrrhenian Sea, Cala Rossa is one of Sicily’s most beautiful beaches. Hidden on Sicily’s tiny neighbouring island, Favignana, the azure paradise offers invitingly tranquil waters, encircled by layers of calcarenite rock. The unique formations are quite a sight. To reach Cala Rossa, you can take a boat from Trapani to Favignana. Make a day trip out of it and spend time getting to know Favignana’s main town, which has a sleepy, old-world atmosphere. Why not rent a boat and circumnavigate the island?
A cool, cultural metropolis
270km from Verdura Resort
An ancient port city on Sicily’s eastern coastline, Catania resides at the foot of Mount Etna, its buildings made from dark, volcanic stone. The second largest city after Palermo, Catania is a cosmopolitan destination, with superlative restaurants, vibrant markets and a buzzing creative scene. Combine a visit to Mount Etna with an afternoon in Catania to experience its verdant garden squares, lively fish market and famous Elephant Fountain. Don’t leave without sampling the city’s local dish, pasta alla Norma, made with tomatoes, aubergine and ricotta.