La Sicilia in una città: Capo d'Orlando

Marina Capo d’Orlando is located in a enchanting natural setting: S. Gregorio district, ancient fishing village in the east side of Capo d’ Orlando.
The town of Capo d’Orlando is one of the most renowned seaside resorts of the region located on the Tyrrhenian side and near the Nebrodi mountains.
What you can see from Capo d’Orlando, while gazing out towards the Aeolinan islands, is absolutely breathtaking. You can admire a clear blue sea, getting lost trough the shapes of the islands Vulcano and Lipari, which are very close to each other. While in the distance Salina, Filicudi and Alicudi stand out. Its seabed -true natural wonders – offers interesting opportunities for diving enthusiasts. In fact, the region is famous for its marine reserves, a natural heritage of which the island becomes the guardian, preserving pristine areas in which flora and fauna are still living undisturbed.
The Nebrodi Park extends behind Capo d’Orlando. The park is the largest protected natural area of Sicily, with its picturesque villages and its gentle hills is the destination for unique excursions: dotted with lush forests, high altitude green pastures, tranquil lakes and fast rivers that contrast with the more common image of a dry and sunburnt Sicily. A one-hour drive separates the port from the “lunar” landscapes of the largest volcano in Europe-Mount Etna-which eruptions give breathtaking natural spectacles. The origin of the name “Capo d’ Orlando” dates back to Norman times, when it was named so in memory of the alleged stop of the paladin Orlando during a crusade in the Holy Land, however the contamination of the city’s history are numerous.
Among the wonders from the past times, Bastione castle and the historic sanctuary can be numbered. While only 3 km away – few meters away from the marina- you can find Terme di Bagnoli: spa facilities dating from the IV century A.D. Capo d’ Orlando is a crossroads for reaching the major civilizations centres of the past times: Cefalù and Palermo to the west, Taormina and Tindari to the east, Catania and Siracusa to the South. Sicily is famous worldwide for its rich archaeological and natural heritage.
Impossible not to mention the delicacies of the Sicilian cuisine like “pasta con le sarde” or the many
recipes based on the much varied seafood offer of the region.
Messina is doubtless the most appropriate province to enjoy a Sicilian classic, granita (crushed flavoured ice) accompanied by “brioscia”, a typical sweet bread. The city also can offer excellent livestock products such as Sicilian Black and provola, both from Nebrodi Mountains.
The added value of the island and its local people is the culture of hospitality, which is the heritage of Greek and Arab traditions, where the guest was considered sacred.
Capo d’Orlando is a very lively town, thanks to a rich series of events, among which the most outstanding is “Little Sicily”, a festival dedicated to the Sicilian excellence where – between art, culture, folklore and crafts – you can admire the most authentic glimpse of Sicily.

Aeolian Islands: Stromboli, Isola Vulcano

The archipelago of the Aeolian Islands consists of seven stunning islands featuring wild and unspoiled nature and offers its visitors ever changing views and breathtaking landscapes .
The volcanic archipelago boasts one the most renown island of the world: Stromboli – which is the most northern island of the Aeolian – home of one of the most active European volcanos.
From the Observatory of the Navy, in Punta Labronzo, the frequent and spectacular explosive eruptions of this giant of nature are perfectly visible.
A few hundred meters north-east of the island stands the rock of the Strombolicchio, created by one of the most ancient volcanic eruptions ever happened to the Aeolian Islands and where today you can admire its wonderful lighthouse powered by solar energy.
The most curious visitors will appreciate the evocative route that winds its way through the village of Stromboli between the old houses in Aeolian style – which feature basic architectures and are open towards the outside – until the Sciara del fuoco (a steep slope descending from the crater of Stromboli), from which you can admire the explosions and the romantic sunset over the sea. 
For an even more impressive experience, starting a few hours before sunset from the square of Chiesa di San Vincenzo you walk onto the peak of the volcano, accompanied by local volcanological guides, to enjoy the superb spectacle of the nighttime eruptions. Today, when the ferry arrives from Naples and cannot dock at the tiny pier of concrete in Ginostra, a small punt called “Charon” carries tourists and their luggage on the ground, repeating a sort of rite of passage from the hectic life of the city to the absolute relax of these islands.

Aeolian Islands:Alicudi, where nature takes pride of place

The Alicudi Island is without any doubt the tangible sign of the natural diversity of this amazing archipelago. It is the most westward island of the Aeolian and is about 34 nautical miles west of Lipari. The abundant natural vegetation growing on this piece of land has made it the ideal spot for Nanni Moretti for the shooting of “Caro Diario” – milestone of Italian cinema (Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival)- where the main character takes refuge in the island of Alicudi to rejuvenate from the stresses of city life.
Alicudi is dominated by Mount Filo dell’Arpa, a dormant volcano of about 5 sq. km, which covers the entire island and offers unforgettable views. In fact, from above you are surrounded in a landscape made of crystal clear and black sea waters as often occurs in these volcanic areas.
In the background the Sciara del fuoco (steep slope, formed of lava and incandescent slag, which from the volcano crater goes down to the sea) ideally directs the gaze downwards. The trail leading to the peak starts from the contrada San Bartolo, which is easily reachable from the port. The trail passes through a first part of partially uncultivated terraces until you get to the contrada Piano Fucile, where evidence of a prehistoric settlement – dating from the sixteenth B.C. -still exist. Not far from here, you can visit the Timpone delle Femmine, a natural entrenchment once used as a refuge against the incursions of the corsairs and pirates. A long and intense walk is rewarded by a panorama that reveals itself to your eyes once you reached the peak. This is a gift that only the spontaneus and wild nature of Alicudi can offer to its most curious visitors.

Etna, voice of the Earth

The largest active volcano in Europe, Mount Etna stands not far from the Strait of Messina. It is one of the highest in the world and in June 2013 was included on the World Heritage List List. Throughout history the frequent eruptions have threatened the population living in the surrounding area, but mainly they have shaped the surrounding landscape transforming the Mediterranean flora and fauna in an environment that almost reminds lunar landscapes and the charm of it.
In this context, in 1987 was established the Etna Nature Park – a natural reserve of rare beauty that with its forests, trails, views, local products, small towns with invaluable historical heritage – is one of the all year round popular destinations for travellers, whether they are nature lovers, lovers of good food and lovers of practicing outdoor sports
The volcano is cultivated up to a thousand meters above sea level. It is highly urbanised on the east and south slopes, while it looks rather wild and barren on the western side where – from thousand meters onwards – you can see the “sciare”, the typical tongues of fire that plunge in the waters in front of the volcano.

On the north side, a woodland setting predominates, while in the east the scenery is dominated by Valle del Bove, on the sides of which thick forests climb up.
Year round, Etna is the destination point for visitors interested from the spectacle offered by its eruptive activity, especially when the volcano is erupting at night as the view is particularly impressive: the river of lava flowing down the slopes and jets lighting up the sky help to create a unique light show of its kind, that on some occasions it is also visible from the sea coming from the Aeolian.
There are also specialised guides and off-road vehicles that safely take visitors up to the peak of the craters – at about 3000 meter. – departing from Etna cable cars site in the south zone of Nicolosi. Arriving at a certain altitude you can also feel the heat of the volcano touching the rocks in the snow!
In winter, when snow covers the entire landscape, Etna become a well equipped ski destination thanks to the historic Rifugio Sapienza in Nicolosi territory where there is a magnificent view over the Gulf of Catania where you can see Acitrezza and Aci Castello and the valley of Simeto.
Instead, from the slopes of Piano Provenzana is possible to see Taormina looking to the north and in the background the coasts of Calabria. The visit to Castagno dei Cento Cavalli is not to be missed. This is a several thousand of years old chestnut tree, located in the Etna Park and it is regarded as the most famous and largest in Italy.
It is said that a queen (maybe Giovanna “The Crazy” ), with the following of hundred knights and dames, was surprised by a storm during a hunting trip nearby the tree and right under its branches she found shelter along with all her retinue.

Nebrodi mountains, the ledge of Sicily

For many years the inhabitants of the Nebrodi area were called by local residents simply “Caronie” , from the village of Caronia that is the epicentre of the area, but their name has a much more ancient origin as it is derived from the greek “nebros”, which means ” fawn”.
The Nebrodi Mountains, along with the Peloritani to the east and Madonie to the west form the core of Sicilian Apennines. Facing north directly on the Tyrrhenian Sea and on the Aeolian Islands they take shape as a real natural ledge in symbiosis with Etna, with the river Alcantara and the upper course of the River Simeto to mark its southern border.
The landscape is extremely asymmetrical because of the varied modeling of the mountains that characterize the landscape architecture.
To embellish this scenery also contributes a rich vegetation and humid environments that encourage the spontaneous development of fauna and flora.
The forests on the mountains form the Nebrodi Park, the largest protected natural area of Sicily . The water coming from Nebrodi feed the two large artificial lakes: Lago dell’Ancipa and Lago Pozzillo. Its mountains are presented fairly gentle in fact the highest peaks, do not reach 2000 m.

The best season to explore these landscapes is autumn, when the woods abandon the typical green color to make way for a wide palette of colors.
However, even in winter, in these sceneries – that remind the Dolomites – you can enjoy cross-country skiing, while in spring you can enjoy a nice day out with snowshoes among high mountain forests, seeing in the background the Sicilian seascape.
There are no shortage of routes thought for those with a sweet tooth, to sample the delicacies of this land “le strade dei sapori” is a must go at least once. These are food and wine tours which involve local companies specialised in the typical products of the Nebrodi area.
All Sicily was crossed by numerous foreign dominations, of which still today remain indelible traces in the traditions and art, as evidenced by the Abbey of Santa Maria di Maniace, on the border between the municipalities of Bronte and Maniace. The structure was built by William II in 1174 for the wish of his mother, Margaret of Navarre, in memory of the bloody battle won by Giorgio Maniace against the Arabs in 1040.