Mount Etna

A week in Sicily

July 2, 2018Hels

Sam, Dougie and I spent a week in beautiful Sicily…

Italy is one of my favourite places to visit. I’m lucky enough to have visited several times but Sicily was somewhere new for us both. I thought I’d share how we spent our week…


As I mentioned in my post about travelling with a toddler, accommodation was pretty important for us. We chose an AirBnb that had two rooms, a lovely terrace and a pool.

The pool was a shared pool, though we didn’t see anyone else there while we were staying, and we all had so much fun splashing around (Dougie especially). The location was pretty remote, but we had a car so we didn’t mind. The terrace had an incredible sea view and was surrounded by lemon trees, and the apartment was lovely, although it had a staircase that was probably one of the least toddler-friendly staircases ever!

We stayed in Acireale, and from there we were about 40-minutes drive to Taormina, just under an hour to Mount Etna and Catania Airport and around 1hr20 to Syracuse.

Where to visit


We headed to Catania on our first day. When we woke up, the weather wasn’t amazing (okay, it was absolutely tipping it down, and we knew that England was enjoying glorious sunshine. Not. Impressed.) but we jumped in the car and headed to Catania, which took us just under an hour.

My Dad had recommended a few spots in Catania, including the cathedral and the Fontana dell’Elefante (Elephant Fountain, and the symbol of the city). I loved the streets in Catania, although parking was a bit of a nightmare. We headed to Piazza del Duomo, Catania’s central piazza which is home to the Elephant Fountain and the cathedral. The cathedral was beautiful, and Dougie absolutely loved racing around the piazza, pushing the buggy and shrieking with joy. We found a restaurant for lunch, and obviously ordered way too much food. If you go to Italy, it’s unlikely you will need a pizza to yourself, they are pretty huge! I managed a third of mine (courgette and ricotta – YUM!), Dougie had a couple of slices of a margarita, Sam had a charcuterie board and we took the majority of the food home with us for dinner!

I think Catania would have been a much better experience if we were travelling without Dougie. We couldn’t really explore as much as we’d have liked – a grumpy toddler is not ideal when you want to visit archaeological spots, but it was fine to spend a couple of hours there!

Mount Etna

This was something both Sam and I were really excited about and we actually ended up going twice. We headed to Rifugio Sapienza which is at the base of the mountain, and where a lot of tours start from. The first time we went, we arrived around 11am and it was very busy. It was pretty cloudy and windy and we weren’t particularly prepared. You’re incredibly high up even before you do any climbing, and it’s pretty chilly up there, which we didn’t really consider. We headed to Crateri Silverstri (1,986m above sea level) which is right by the car park. It was busy, and not a difficult crater to navigate, although you still need to be careful. Dougie was happy to walk up and around with us, and the views are very impressive. Our plan had been to take the cable cars higher up (to around 2,500m) but it was really cloudy and we didn’t want to risk paying and not being able to see anything, so we made the decision to come back another day.

Mount Etna

On our second visit, we arrived much earlier, around 9am. The skies were crystal clear, but…it was windy…which meant the cable cars weren’t running. We were really disappointed but tried to make the best out of it – we saved money, and goodness knows how Dougie would have reacted to being in a cable car! We didn’t want the trip to have been a waste, so we decided to climb the larger crater (I can’t find a name for it!) – who says you can’t take a toddler up a mountain?! (Probably lots of people, it was a bit stressful!)

This crater had two path options, and we opted for the longer, less steep one. Inevitably we ended up alternating carrying Dougie, but neither of us minded, and I felt much safer knowing he wasn’t going to try and run off the edge…

(That’s me!)

We reached a point about halfway up the crater where we decided to call it quits with Dougie, but we knew we’d probably never come back here, so we each took a turn holding Dougie while the other climbed to the highest point of the crater. The views were absolutely breathtaking, I’ve never seen anything like it. I’d love to have gone to the peak of the mountain, but if you ever visit, I’d definitely recommend climbing this crater as the views are incredible and it’s completely free.

Mount Etna

(The crater you can see in the bottom of this photo is Crateri Silverstri, where we went on our first trip, so you can see how much higher we went the second time!)


Syracuse was just over an hour from our apartment and the day we were visiting, we headed there as soon as we were all awake and dressed (which can take anything from two minutes to an hour, depending on Dougie’s mood!) This was the day I chose to wear my gorgeous Rosch Great Barrier Reef Sun Dress* from UK Swimwear, and it was ideal for the hot weather – and matched the sea and sky perfectly!

Rosche sleeveless sun dress

Syracuse is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, known for its ancient ruins, and we both fell in love with the city. There was so much to see, so many beautiful streets to wander down, crystal clear waters to paddle in and delicious gelato to eat.

We crossed over a bridge into Ortiga (or Ortyga) which is a small island, the city’s historical centre. Dougie very kindly napped while we walked around so we could take things a bit more at a leisurely pace. There are plenty of restaurants along the coast which all had stunning views, so we picked one and ordered our food and drink. I had a drink called Frozen, which was literally just vodka, ice and fresh fruit – so strong but so good!

After Dougie woke up, we walked along the coast line and stumbled upon some steps that led down to a small stone beach which had a few sunbathers on. The water was absolutely beautiful, and Sam and Dougie went out for a paddle.

I’d absolutely recommend Syracuse. There is so much to see and do, whether you want a leisurely day filled with food and drink, or want to learn about the gorgeous ancient Greek ruins and find out more about the city, it’s an amazing place to visit.


Taormina was our trip on the final day, and oh I wish we’d visited sooner as I think we’d have gone back again. It’s a beautiful hilltop town, and is a popular holiday destination. There’s a main street with lots of gorgeous narrow cobbled streets coming off it, heading to homes, bars, restaurants and shops.

Gelato in Taormina

There is a lovely square, surrounded by gorgeous buildings and churches, offering unbelievable views of the sea and coastline (and plenty of space for Dougie to race around).


Sicily is an incredible place to visit. We stuck to the east coast during our trip, and there was plenty to see and do. It’s definitely a place I want to return to, maybe when Dougie is a bit older (or enjoying a holiday with his grandparents) but we had the most amazing week and I’m so glad we chose Sicily for our holiday.

Have you ever been to Sicily? It is somewhere you’d like to visit?


*UK Swimwear very kindly gifted me the dress, but all opinions are my own.

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