Taormina & Alcantara Gorges (7/8 hours)
Meet your driver at the established place. Off the highway in Giardini Naxos, we will start a panoramic drive in the area surrounding the riverbed of the Alcantara River and stop at the Alcantara gorges. These impressive basalt formations originated when hot lava touched the cold waters of the river.
The gorges, located in the Alcantara Valley between the villages of Castiglione di Sicilia and Motta Camastra, look like a natural canyon that the river has carved over the centuries by running through the lava stone. In some points, the canyon walls reach a height of 25 metres (82 ft) and a width of 4-5 metres.
Once you get there, you can choose between (1) visiting these 8,000-year old gorges by taking the numerous public steps and (2) buying a ticket to access the Parco Botanico e Geologico delle Gole d’Alcantara (Botanical and geological park of the Alcantara gorges). Facilities like public restrooms, restaurants and elevators to the narrow beach at the bottom of the canyon are available on site.
After this dive into nature, we are ready to proceed to Taormina.
The best-known tourist destination of the island, Taormina is also known as “the pearl of the Ionian Sea” because of its natural and artistic treasures. It is located 206 mt a.s.l., perched on the promontory of the Monte Tauro (hence its old name Tauromènion). The colours of the landscape surrounding Taormina, unique in their combination, range from the green of the hillside to the blue of the sea, from the white of the snow capping Mount Etna to the red of its lava flows. Needless to say, this landscape has been mesmerizing artists and writers for decades. At the foot of the promontory, stretching into the bay is the small island known as Isola Bella. This small island belonged to noble and affluent families before the Sicilian department for cultural heritage bought it in 1990 and proclaimed it Protected Natural Reserve in 1998.
These are the places where the French director Luc Besson decided to shoot some important scenes from his movie “Le Grand Bleu”, in 1988. Taormina is considered the capital of high-end shopping and of the “Dolce Vita”. However, beside its crowded main street Corso Umberto with its plethora of shops and panoramic spots that make a perfect setting for a romantic stroll, Taormina also hosts plenty of sights and monuments. Among them are the Duomo, dedicated to Saint Nicholas from Bari, the Villa Comunale, from where one can enjoy sweeping views of the Bay, and the Greek theatre, dating from the 3rd century b.C. The theatre is open to visitors every day of the year (tickets can be purchased on the spot) and is still used for live performances, concerts and festivals between June and September