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A shiny newcomer to the hotel scene on the east coast of sultry Sicily, at the foot of Mount Etna – with breakfast and a choice of rooms
Sicily’s east coast is a treasure trove of sights: lively, chaotic Catania, the lunar landscape of still-smoking Mount Etna, the Greek ruins of Taormina and Syracusa. Get lost amid the colourful backstreets of the seaside towns or among the sweet chestnut and pine forests that line the lower flanks of Mount Etna. Pretty, historic Viagrande is the perfect base for exploring the east coast: located 15 kilometres north of Catania’s sprawl, the smart little town is home to palazzo-lined streets and breezy piazzas. Located in the northern outskirts, Relais San Giuliano is a relaxing stay with excellent links to the volcano and the coastline.
Set behind high, historic walls, a sympathetic restoration has transformed Relais San Giuliano into a chic 11-room hotel where you’ll enjoy delicious continental breakfasts and waist-widening plates of Sicilian-inspired cuisine. Spend a few hours wallowing in the spa or relaxing by the pool with a book, sipping local wines on the terrace or enjoying a siesta in your cosy bedroom.
You’re well placed for tours of the volcano, which you can explore by 4WD or helicopter for the best view of the scorched crater. Appropriately shod hardcore hikers can trek among the lava flows and skeletal trees, or swoop up to 2,590 metres in a cable car. Hire a car to visit the beach, or get a hit of culture at the impressive Greek theatre at Taormina, or the towering Doric temple at Syracuse. Coffee (and pastry) fans can hang out at Gran Caffè Urna – the Viagrande institution has been serving locals since 1885 (the gelato is pretty good, too).
Good to know
Please note this is a new property so some images may be computer generated.
Relaxing in the spa with a massage, a dip in the Jacuzzi or a sweat session in the sauna
Lacing up hiking boots for a thigh-burning stomp up the slopes of Mount Etna, Europe’s highest active volcano
Uncovering the historic ruins at the Greek theatre in Taormina and Apollo’s temple at Syracuse
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