The small but lively resort of Portorosa on Sicily’s northeast coast makes for an exciting getaway. Portorosa’s main activities are boating and water sports, but there’s still plenty of appeals if you’re looking for a more relaxing stay. The marina is the largest in Sicily and oozes sophistication. From the shore, you’ll be met with stunning views over the crystal-clear Tyrrhenian sea, and the Aeolian islands are easily visited by boat.
Portorosa enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate year-round, with highs averaging 30oC in the summer yet a comfortable 14oC in winter, so it’s an excellent holiday destination throughout the year. The resort is close to many other tourist hotspots in Sicily, meaning you can easily explore the rest of the island from the comfort of Portorosa. The resort is popular with sailing enthusiasts but has plenty to offer whether you’re a seasoned sea dog or a long-time landlubber, with clubs and piano bars near the marina and plenty of restaurants to keep you entertained in the evenings.
The Aeolian Islands
Just off the northeast point of Sicily, the Aeolian islands have some of the most stunning natural landscapes in Italy. The seven islands were formed by volcanic activity. Two of these volcanoes are still active, and the eruptions can be seen for miles. Lipari is the largest of the islands and has a small town with cafés and bars for you to kick back and relax away from the Sicilian sun. The Lipari citadel contains an archaeological museum, with ancient artefacts dating back to the Bronze age. The island of Stromboli is the most active of the two volcanic islands. If you’re feeling brave you can take a walk up the volcano and see the eruptions close-up, or take a boat out to see at night and admire the fiery summit from a distance. There are plenty of beaches among the islands, so you can take a relaxing break after a day of exploring.
Messina is known as ‘the gateway to Sicily’, due to its location across the Strait of Messina that links Sicily and mainland Italy. The city was devastated by an early 20th-century earthquake, but has been rebuilt and is now a modernised city with a great atmosphere. Despite this, there is still plenty of history to explore. Messina’s 12th-century Cathedral is a beautiful sight, recently restored in a more modern architectural style that still reflects the old Norman design. The Cathedral’s clock tower hosts one of the largest astronomical clocks in the world, and visitors can climb to the top for a breathtaking view of the city.
The charming little town of Taormina is nestled in a hillside and has stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea. Summer is the most popular time for travellers, but in Spring the resort is much quieter and the flowers are in full bloom, so it’s a great time to visit.
The Teatro Greco is one of Taormina’s must-see sites, a Greco-Roman outdoor theatre with excellent views. The rich and famous flock to Taormina in the holiday season, especially during the Taormina Arte festival, a festival of art and music that takes place in the Teatro Greco in summer. Make sure you visit the Trevelyan Gardens, a sophisticated English-style public park by the sea.
The restaurants and bars of Taormina are elegant and offer world-class food and drink.
Scale Mount Etna
Mount Etna, the tallest active volcano in Europe (twice as tall as Mount Vesuvius), can be seen from all over Sicily. According to Greek legend, Zeus trapped Typhon, the deadliest creature to ever live, under Mount Etna! Tourists looking to climb the volcano should make their way to Catania, just down the east coast from Taormina, where parking is available and access to the base of the mountain is convenient. If you’d rather not get too close, public transport runs throughout the day to lower altitudes up to the mountainside, where you can admire the beauty of the volcanic landscape surrounding the mountain.
Take to the seas at Marina di Portorosa
Portorosa is primarily a resort for sailing enthusiasts, and there’s no better way to spend your time than to charter a yacht and explore the local coastline. If you’re not a veteran sailor, don’t worry- there’s plenty on offer in Portorosa to get you out to sea, from water sports to boat tours of the Aeolian islands and beyond.
Relax on Portorosa beach
The beach at Portorosa offers incredible views over the Mediterranean. Sunbeds and parasols are available to hire throughout the day and there is a small beach bar serving snacks and refreshments to help you escape the sun. Further away from the main beach, there are a few secluded coves dotted along the coast if you’re looking to sunbathe in peace. Lifeguards are on duty during the day, so the beach is particularly popular with families with younger children.
Sicilian cuisine is all about locally-sourced vegetables and freshly-caught seafood, with ingredients so fresh that sauces and seasoning aren’t needed for a delicious meal. Think olives grown on trees just out of town, or lobster caught the morning before your meal. Sicilian cuisine is unique in that it blends together a multitude of different cultural influences. Traditional Sicilian recipes have a classic Mediterranean-Italian base, mixed in with elements of Arabic, French and Greek cuisine. A favourite among tourists is arancini, fried rice balls stuffed with meat and cheese.
The restaurants around Portorosa specialise in traditional Sicilian cuisine, but most also serve Italian and Mediterranean classics. One restaurant worth checking out is Agriturismo La Camelia, which serves great Sicilian seafood, freshly-caught thanks to Portorosa’s coastal location. Also worth a trip is Ritrovo Rhodis, a restaurant serving great-value Italian food and gelato.
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