Meet your driver at the established place. Your journey begins with a highway drive to the town of Giarre and continues up along the southern slopes of the volcano. You will pass through the small village of Santa Venerina, renowned for the wines and distillates that are produced there and among which is the famous “Fuoco dell’Etna”, whose alcohol content almost reaches 70% abv. Along the way, you might notice the cracks caused by a violent eruption in October 1992, which also caused a major earthquake. You will pass by the façade of the Chiesa del Sacro Cuore di Gesù, one of the most important in the area. Next is the village of Zafferana Etnea, renowned for the many shops manufacturing and selling honey. It will be possible to stop for a free taste of local products (olive oil, olives, honey etc.) Your next stop will be at the famous hardened lava flow originated by the 1992 eruption, when the lava flow stopped only 700 metres off the village centre, on 27th May 1992.
That eruption, which began on 14th December 1991 and ended on 30th March 1993, was the longest eruption that has ever been documented. Local people believe that the eruption miraculously stopped after they took out the statue of the Madonna della Provvidenza and carried it toward (and against) the lava flow that threatened to bury the villages.
The statue can still be seen right where the lava flow stopped. Your driver will take you further up the Etna slopes, driving by other flows of hardened lava and extinguished craters and will stop at the Rifugio Sapienza, on the southern side of the mountain, at the height of 1910 metres a.s.l. Once there, you will be able to take a walk around the Silvestri Craters, which originated in 1892.
Enjoy some free time to have a drink or a coffee or browse the souvenir shops where you can find all sorts of handcrafted lava souvenirs. Weather permitting, you will have the possibility to buy tickets for the cable car ascent (tickets not included) up to 2,900 mt and enjoy breathtaking views.
After te visit of the volcano, we will proceed to Taormina, certainly the best-known tourist destination of the island, also called “the pearl of the Ionian Sea” because of its natural and artistic treasures. 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.