Along the north coast – from Messina towards Casa Migliaca
Shortly after Messina, you can leave the motorway for a while to drive around Capo Peloro, from which it is only a good three kilometers to the Italian mainland.
A little later you pass Milazzo, from where you can sail to the archipelago of the Aeolian Islands.
34 km west of Milazzo, Tindari is located on a small mountain by the sea. The city has a long history leading back to a colony founded by Siracusa in 396 BC. Towards the sea, on the edge of the cliff 274 masl lies a monastery and a church, known for its Black Madonna.
Legend has it that a mother prayed to Tindaris Madonna because her child was ill. The child recovered and the mother went to church to give thanks for the healing. But when she saw that the Madonna of the church had a black face, she became angry and went out to look for “the real Madonna”. In her anger she forgot to look after the child and it fell over the cliff edge. Again the mother prayed for Tindaris Madonna and the miracle occurred: below the rock a sandbank formed on which the child landed unscathed. The mother now entered the church and in recognition that the Church’s Black Madonna was the real Madonna, she thanked and apologized to him.
Capind d’Orlando is 36 km from Tindari. It is a fishing village, originated in the Norman period. Here are approx. 13,000 inhabitants.
25 km further west is Acquedolci, which has 5,500 inhabitants and is a relatively new town. The town’s residents previously lived in San Fratello, a small town further up the hillside, 675 masl. However, the old San Fratello lives on and today has more than 4,000 inhabitants. If you are nearby at Easter, you can see a special procession on Good Friday, called I Giudei, the Jews. Groups of people dressed in devil-like costumes wander through the city and into bars and restaurants, where they are treated to wine and sweets while playing trumpets, thereby mocking the strict, sacred nature of the Passion.
Approx. two kilometers south of Acquedolci is the Grotta di San Teodoro. When archeological excavations were carried out in and outside the cave in 1859, remains of prehistoric people and animals were found. The cave has been inhabited since about 12,000 years BC. and some of Sicily’s oldest tombs have been found, containing five skulls and two very well-preserved skeletons. The graves were not very deep. The dead were surrounded by animal bones and small stones and adorned with deer teeth necklaces. Upstairs there was a thin layer of soil on which ocher was sprinkled.
The most important find is a 30-year-old woman of 165 cm. She is named Thea after the name of the cave. An attempt has been made to make a reconstruction that shows what she looked like.
After another 38 km you reach Santo Stefano di Camastra. Together with the previously mentioned Caltagirone, these two cities are considered the ceramic centers of Sicily and here it abounds with shops that tempt with all kinds of ceramics.
After another 15 km you reach Pettineo and Casa Migliaca.
Across Sicily – from Scopello to Etna
From Scopello to Etna it is about 300 km. After approx. 130 km the motorway divides and you leave the coast and drive towards Catania.
Enna and Piazza Amerina
Enna, also called the navel of Sicily, is a mountain town, located at an altitude of 940-970 m. It has just over 28,000 inhabitants and is Italy’s highest provincial capital. The mountain on which the city is located is part of the Monte Erei mountain range.
In prehistoric times, it was the Sikhs who settled here. Later, when the Romans came to power, a slave war started here in Enna, which lasted seven years. The Romans felt superior to the Sicilians and included the Sicilian-owned farms under Roman large estates and enslaved the Sicilians. Nothing below the created resistance!
From the city you can see far and wide – in good weather from Etna in the east to Monte Erice in the west – and it has therefore always had great defensive significance.
In the city park you will find the octagonal tower, Torre di Federico 2., which is the only remnant of an old city wall.
Chiesa S. Chiara is a former Jesuit and Franciscan church that in 1956 was transformed into a memorial to those who fell in war and is therefore now called Sacrario caduti in guerra. On the walls all around there are tombstones with the names of the fallen. Above you can see some glass mosaics. The ones on the right are about World War II and the ones on the left are about World War I.
In Via Roma is La Sicilia, a small museum that displays miniature scenes of the island’s traditions and history through the centuries.
The cathedral dates from the 14th century, but was rebuilt in the Baroque style in the 17th century.
Via Roma ends at Castello di Lombardia, a fortress founded by the Byzantines and later expanded by the Normans. Originally, it was equipped with no less than 24 towers. Today there are only six left. One can get up in Pisan, from whose top there is a phenomenal view.
A little below the castle you can see the Ceres rocks, where in ancient times the goddess of grain, Ceres, was worshiped.
Approx. 10 km south of Enna is Lake Pergusa, a small mountain lake 670 m above sea level, which is 6 km2 large and almost circular. The slightly salty water of the lake is a favorite habitat for birds. On the south side there is a cave from which it is said to be access to Hell!
From Enna you can choose a small detour, for 33 km south of this is Piazza Armerina with the Roman Villa del Casale, which is one of Sicily’s biggest tourist attractions and is referred to as Sicily’s Pompeii.