- Festa di Sant'Agata:
Celebrate the patron saint of Catania with processions, shows, gastronomy and spectacular fireworks.March
- Carnival in Taormina:
- Carretti Siciliani:
Brightly coloured native horse carts and costumes in Taormina.June
- Taormina Film Fest
- Taormina Greek Theatre
Music, arts and film festival in Catania with classical music, puppet shows and rock, pop, reggae and jazz concerts.August/September
This harvest festival is held in the little town of Milo in the Catania province and celebrates the vibrant local wine scene.November
- Sicily Jazz and More:
Italian and international jazz stars perform at Le Ciminiere in Catania.
Catania offers something for everyone with its many historic and artistic wonders. Visit the beautiful Piazza Duomo to see examples of these wonders, including the symbol of the city: Fontana dell’Elefante. The Duomo itself, is also one of Catania’s greatest buildings.
If ancient ruins and Baroque architecture don’t thrill you enough, there is plenty more to do in this city that will keep you entertained. Take a guided sightseeing tour of one of the most active volcanoes in the world, Mount Etna. The views from the top are unparalleled!
For even more action, visit Catania’s parks and natural reserves, where you can go trekking and horseback riding. On these picturesque trails you will come across many species of animals and they are also the perfect place to try birdwatching. Check out Lake Gurrida, the park’s only water basin, for ducks and other aquatic birds.
More action awaits in the sea with activities ranging from scuba-diving and snorkelling to surfing and sailing. The crystal-clear waters here are a dream for those after a seaside holiday. The city also boasts a vibrant nightlife with hundreds of bars, clubs and eateries. During the day, Catania has one of the most lively fish markets on the island.
Visit in the winter to experience the beauty of Etna covered in snow and put on your skis for a thrilling adventure in this truly remarkable landscape.
Taormina is also situated very close to Etna, and the picture-perfect views of Etna from the Greek Theatre in the town make Taormina the most popular summer destination in Sicily. The theatre and its views are Taormina’s premier attraction and in the summer, it is used to stage international arts and film festivals.
Due to the sheer beauty of the scenery and stunning panoramic views, walks and hikes are favoured activities in this town. Head to the top of Monte Tauro – the final steps can be difficult but the view over the town’s rooftops is worth it. Spend a few hours meandering through the streets that are lined with medieval churches, Renaissance palaces and high-end designer shops. If you’re tired of walking you can also explore the town by Segway.
Other activities include golfing at the nearby 18-holes green, tennis, and all water sports.
The Euro (€) is the official currency of Italy. Coins are available in 1 cent, 2 cent, 5 cent, 10 cent, 20 cent, 50, cent , €1 & €2 denominations. Notes are available in €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200, €500 denominations.
Travellers cheques are widely accepted for exchange or purchase in major cities, but in more rural areas, visit a bank to exchange them for Euros. Major credit cards are widely accepted here (though a limited number of merchants have American Express accounts) and ATM access is widespread. Exchange currency only at authorized outlets such as banks and hotels, and exchange only what you think you will spend in-country. Coins cannot be reconverted on departure. Save all receipts from any currency exchange transaction. You may be asked to produce them when you exit the country, and they are required if you intend to reconvert local currency.
You are not expected to tip on top of restaurant service charges, though leaving a small amount is common practice. If there is no service charge, you might consider leaving 10%/15%, but it is not obligatory. In bars any small change is left as a tip. Tipping taxi drivers is also not mandatory but suggested.
ARRIVAL & DEPARTURE FORMALITIES
Travel documents are your responsibility. In general you should have:
- A signed, valid passport that will remain valid for at least 6 months beyond the completion of your trip. Your passport must have enough blank pages (excluding amendment pages) available for entry and exit stamps issued when entering and exiting immigration points.
- Visas are required for certain nationalities and you are strongly advised to check your status allowing plenty of time for visa application.
In general, the climate on Sicily is very mild with little difference between the various provinces. The summers are hotter on the coast and in the valleys than in the hills. It rarely rains in the summer months. The average temperature varies between 27°C and 35°C and can even reach 40°C and more during the summer. Spring and autumn are rainy and mild, however, there are still plenty of dry and sunny days. Even during the winter, the temperature rarely falls below 13°C. By May there is less rain and the days become longer with up to 10 hours of daylight. The average temperature in spring is between 19°C and 24°C, in autumn between 21°C and 24°C. The winter months alternate between rain and sun with an average temperature of around 10°C.
It is advisable to contact your doctor before you travel if you have any specific health concerns and take out appropriate travel and medical insurance.
Electrical service in Italy is supplied at 220-240 volts/50 hertz - a converter/adaptor may be required.
There are some important rules of the road:
- Traffic drives on the RIGHT.
- At crossroads drivers coming from the right have priority excluding crossroads with traffic signs/lights.
- You should always be carrying in the car your driver's license accompanied by the International Driving Permit, the car insurance papers and ownership (rental) papers.
- The minimum driving age is 18.
- It is compulsory for the driver and front-seat passengers to wear seat belts, and seat belts must be worn in the back where they are fitted. Children under 12 must travel in the back seats, unless the front seat is fitted with a child restraint system.
- Headlights must be on all the time except if driving in a city during the day with good visibility.
- In the event of a breakdown a red warning triangle must be displayed in the road.
- National speed limit is 50kmh (31mph) in towns, 90kmh (56mph) on secondary non-urban highways, 110kmh (68mph) on dual carriageways, 130kmh (80mph) on motorways. Speeding fines: Euros 30 - 300.
- For use of the highways it is invariably necessary to collect a ticket at toll booth marked "biglietti" before entering the highway. DO NOT pass under the lanes marked Telepass. Pay the toll at the exit. Payment can be made by coins or by credit card.
- There are strict laws concerning drinking and driving. Blood alcohol levels must not exceed 0.05%.There are random breathalyser tests carried out regularly by the police.
- In many large towns, the historical town centre is subject to traffic restrictions (authorised vehicles only may enter) indicated by large white sign with a red circle saying "Zona a traffico limitato".
- Street parking is organized and designated with signs and by the colour of the lines for the parking spots. The colour of the lines on the parking space indicates the type of parking; white is for free parking, blue is for paid parking, yellow is reserved for special use.
- Signs will tell you if you are required to pay or to use a parking disc to time your parking (more details below). In most regions, blue lines mark paid street parking. There will be a payment machine nearby. Place the receipt from the machine on the dashboard.
- In many towns, white lines mark free parking spots on the street but they may be limited by time. The closest parking sign will tell you if you must set your parking disc to show when you arrived. Set your parking disc to the time you parked and display it in the window. You must return within the maximum allowed time.