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Walking under Mount Etna

from £990
Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean, is richly diverse, steeped in history with many sights and experiences not to be missed.

On the same latitude as part of the North African coast and tempered by sea breezes, Sicily is the largest of the Mediterranean islands and a richly diverse region of Italy. It is steeped in history having been home to Greek, Roman, Arab, Norman and Spanish invaders. Francavilla is situated inland from the east coast above the resort town of Taormina.

As a centre it offers some of the finest walking to be had. The ever present outline of Mount Etna frames many of our walks. Taormina offers one of the best preserved and most beautifully situated Greco-Roman theatres in the world with a commanding view of Mount Etna. The town’s ‘piazzetta’ is the essence of Italy and Taormina has always attracted the Italian glitterati. The walks take in meadows, filled with wild flowers in spring, and mountains, ancient tracks and villages, hill top castles and peaceful paths. We will walk on the slopes of Etna, reaching the snow line on the spring tours.

Using hired local transport where necessary to see the best of the area we have a varied walking programme. The walk up to the historic hilltop village of Castiglione is a lovely way to start. Walking down from Mount Venere to Taormina is another classic. Its temptations of some cold refreshment will put a spring in your step.

We will take an included excursion to Mount Etna. As the volcano is still active we can never predict an exact programme for the day but we aim to walk on the slopes of Mt Etna to view some of its scattered craters. The higher we reach the more spectacular the views across the island and to the Italian mainland across the straights of Messina.

There will be a free day when it should be possible to organise a trip to ancient Syracuse, birthplace of Archimedes, and the island of Ortygia.


Holiday Highlights

  • See the view past the castle in Francavilla to Mount Etna.
  • Enjoy the spring flowers or autumn fruits that line our walks.
  • Visit Taormina, beautifully situated and a great place to finish a walk.
  • Explore the Alcanatara Gorge close by the hotel.
The holiday inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What's included in this holiday Items that are covered in the cost of holiday price.

      Return flights from Gatwick to Catania (British Airways or Easyjet)
      Airport transfers
      Half board en suite accommodation
      All local transport costs.
Whats not included in this holiday Items that are not covered in the cost of holiday price.

  • Entrance fees to some museums and historic buildings (unless otherwise specified)
  • Personal expenses (such as your bar bill)
  • Discretionary tips
  • Optional excursions
  • Insurance
Please select Departure Date to view:

Please see Holiday Information Sheet for this holidays individual departures itinerary (located under View Departures & Book tab)

Whilst every effort will be made to adhere to the outlined itinerary and advertised program, local conditions can change due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances. This may mean that routes and timings need to be amended or the order of days may change, sometimes at short notice.

This departure: Grade 6

  1. Day 1

    We fly into Catania Airport. Keep an eye out of the window for views of Mt Etna as we come into land. From the airport we drive north up the coast and then inland to Francavilla.

  2. Day 2

    We walk up Castiglione, clearly visible on the slope of Etna above the hotel. It is an excellent introduction to the rich history of the area from Ancient Greeks through Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Norman, German, French and Spanish conquests up to the Allied landings of 1943. The walk offers castles, pleasant orchards of citrus and exotic fruits such as prickly pears, pomegranate, medlars and Sharon fruit (in season ), an ancient hill-town with winding back-alleys and panoramic views of Etna. 13km (8  miles); 450m↑↓; 4 hours.

  3. Day 3

    This is a fine walk that explores a number of remote villages abandoned after a failed experiment of the 1950s. The so-called Mussolini Villages have nothing to do with Mussolini. Expect superb views of Etna, tracks along a ridge, and a long descent into Francavilla. 19km (12  miles); 580m↑880m↓; 5 hrs 30 mins.

  4. Day 4

    We take transport out to our start point with great views of Etna. We walk up to ascent to the broad summit of Monte Venere with panoramic views. Then we descend to the fortified village of Castelmola, perched high on a hill above the sea, for a pause before continuing the descent to the picturesque and photogenic town of Taormina. 13km (8  miles); 450m↑↓; 4 hours.

  5. Day 5

    This is planned as a free day. There are many walking options to be considered and for those who prefer a little culture to supplement the walking it is normally possible to arrange an excursion to Syracuse, about 90mins drive to the south. Your RWH tour leader will be happy to advise.

  6. Day 6

    Today we plan an included excursion to walk on the slopes of Mt Etna. Etna is an active volcano, so our plans always have to take this into account. However, with use of hired transport we can walk on the slopes hopefully at high altitude. It is likely spring groups will walk in snow so come prepared. At any time of the year it can be very cold on the upper slopes.

  7. Day 7

    This is a glorious ridge walk on good tracks and paths with fine views of Etna, followed by a descent on tracks to the valley for an unusual view of the Alcantara gorge. Finally, we walk along a quiet lane to the foot of the castle hill at Francavilla. 16km (9  miles); 500m↑750m↓; 5 hours.

  8. Day 8

    We have no particular plans for the last day of the holiday. Our departure from the hotel will be decided by our flight times from Catania Airport but there may be time for a stroll before we transfer.

Travel Details

  • Return flights from Gatwick to Catania (British Airways or Easyjet)
  • Airport transfers by road c.1hr.30mins
  • Upgrades are available on most flights. For scheduled flights this may be Premium Economy, Business or First Class. Most low-cost carriers also have extra legroom seats.
  • If direct regional flights are not available, we can often offer add-on flights to a London airport at a competitive rate. Please ask us for details and a competitive quote.

Trip Map

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Our Accommodation on this holiday

Below is the accommodation featured on this holiday. If you are on a multi-centre holiday, these are highlights of the places where we stay. Please refer to your Holiday Information sheet (which can be found under View Departures & Book), for your departure date and for all your accommodation details.

Hotel d'Orange D'Alcantara


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