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An autumn adventure holiday to Sicily's Mount Etna and the Noto Valley

Visiting Sicily on a holiday in autumn is a wonderful experience. The weather during this time of the year is usually pleasant, with milder temperatures (ranging from 18-24°C) compared to the hot summer months. It is an excellent time for outdoor adventures, embarking on local experiences, or making a road trip with the family. In order to get the most out of your trip to Sicily you might want to focus on one of two areas of the island. Mount Etna and the Noto Valley make a perfect combination to enjoy some outdoor activities and explore UNESCO heritage when the island has calmed down after the busy and hot summer months. From hiking, biking, climbing, body rafting, venturing through ancient towns and other cultural explorations - this area of Sicily will have you spoiled for choice.

Noto town, Sicily, Italy, Autumn an excellent time to visit Sicily for outdoor adventures, embarking on local experiences, or making a road trip with the family.

Go Hiking in the Countryside

The landscapes in the Eastern parts of Sicily are lush and green in autumn, making it a great time for hiking and exploring the natural beauty of the island. Explore areas like the Iblei Mountains, known for its rugged limestone terrain and dramatic landscapes. In the mountains, you can find a variety of hiking trails. Closer to Sicily's Sotheastern coast is the Vendicari Nature Reserve. The trails in this reserve are peaceful and picturesque and offer stunning coastal views. In this unspoiled natural area, you can also spot a variety of bird species such as herons, cranes, black storks, pelicans, and a flamboyance of flamingos in the lagoons and swamps.

Visit The Baroque Towns of Noto Valley

Amazing landscapes, golden baroque towns, characteristic fishing villages, excellent Sicilian wines, plus sun all year round… This is the Noto Valley! Autumn is a perfect moment to explore the impressive baroque towns of the valley. Stroll through their charming streets and enjoy local food. The city of Noto is probably the jewel of the Noto Valley and will impress with its narrow streets, elegant baroque buildings, awe-inspiring churches, and palaces adorned with intricate facades. Balanced on one of the hills running in the Iblei Mountains, the old walled town of Modica is connected to the more elegant baroque part below in the valley by breathtaking stairs. A visit to the Cathedral of Saint John and St. Peter should absolutely be on your list as well as a tasting or visit to one of Modica's chocolate shops or factories.

Modica, Sicily, Itayi, The Small Adventure Company - Adventure and Family Holidays in Europe

Situated on top of a hill overlooking the valley, the small town of Ragusa could come straight from a fairy tale. With baroque churches and buildings as far as the eye can see, Sicilian men, chatting beside the doorsteps, and linen hanging outside the windows, Ragusa is simply delightful. The old part of the city, Ragusa Ibla, is connected to the newer one, Ragusa Nuova, with a winding street that gives stunning views of the town.

The old city of Siracusa - Ortigia - is small but steeped in 2,500 years of history and features countless monuments and narrow medieval streets that make it a jewel of rare beauty. Get lost in the streets and enjoy the authentic ambiance. Don’t miss the nearby Parco Archeologico Neapolis, with its incredible Greek theatre and Roman amphitheater.

Ortigia, Syracuse, Sicily, Italy, The Small Adventure Company - Adventure and Family Holidays in Europe

Indulge in Culinary Delights

Sicilian cuisine is a highlight of any trip. Autumn brings fresh harvests, so savor local dishes featuring seasonal ingredients like grapes, figs, olives, pumpkin, and wild mushrooms which are often used in pasta dishes or incorporated into risottos. Don’t miss trying Ravioli di Ricotta e Zucca. These ravioli are filled with a mixture of ricotta cheese and pumpkin and are often served with butter and sage sauce. Figs and almonds are often used in Sicily's desserts and pastries like Cuccudati (a fig-filled cookie) or almond-based sweets like Frutta Martorana and Pasticcini di Mandorle.

Sicilian sweets, Sicily, Italy, The Small Adventure Company - Adventure and Family Holidays in Europe

Cooking enthusiasts can also embrace the culinary culture of Sicily by joining cooking classes. Learn to prepare exquisite pasta from local chefs using fresh ingredients.

Also, don't miss the opportunity to taste Sicilian explore vineyards and wineries, take part in wine tours, and taste local wines. The beautiful wine route “Strada del vino del Val di Noto” runs parallel to the coast and leads you to pretty towns such as Avola and Pachino. Nero D’Avola, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, and Moscato Bianco are just a few of the grape varieties cultivated in the Noto area.

Get active on Mount Etna

Autumn is a great time to explore Mount Etna. You can take guided hikes and witness the unique landscape of this active volcano. Visiting the Etna in autumn gives you the chance to witness the fall foliage, creating a picturesque setting. The best places to admire the colors are on the Sartorius path, which leads to the Sartorius craters. Here the Etna birches predominate, which in autumn take on that spectacular golden-yellow colour. The Sartorius path is flat, easy, well-marked, and family-friendly! You can also make a one-hour hike from Piano Provenzana to Timparossa (the red hill). This path located on the north side of Mount Etna leads to a refuge immersed in a beech forest. In autumn it takes on amazing colours from red and yellow to orange and brown.

Mount Etna, Sicily, Italy, The Small Adventure Company - Adventure and Family Holidays in Europe

Apart from hiking, there are more outdoor adventures on Mount Etna. Opt for a mountain bike ride through the fascinating volcano landscapes and admire the panoramic views of the Etna villages. You can also make a tour on a quad bike and explore the off-road paths of Mount Etna. On your way you will pass lava flows, caves, and lava tubes. Or head to the Alcantara Gorges, a nearby canyon formed by the volcanic activity of Mount Etna. It is nestled between high lava stone walls and features small lakes and waterfalls. The crystal-clear Alcantara River that runs in the canyon has carved its path over many thousands of years. Here you can enjoy canyoning, jumping off the rocks, and body rafting in the river rapids… Thrill-seekers, this is for you!

Immerse in Local Festivals

Harvests festivals, called in Italian “sagre" are very common in autumn and are a wonderful opportunity to enjoy traditional music and indulge in regional specialties. Here are a few notable autumn festivals:

  • The Sagra dell'Uva. It is held in late September in the town of Zafferana Etnea, near Mount Etna, and celebrates the grape harvest. Enjoy traditional music, dancing, grape stomping, and, of course, tasting local wines and grape-based products.

  • The Sagra dell'Arancia. This festival takes place in October in the town of Francofonte and honors the orange harvest. You can indulge in various citrus-themed dishes, drinks, and sweets, as well as enjoy live performances and parades.

  • The Sagra del Pistacchio. The town of Bronte, known for its high-quality pistachios, holds this festival in October. You can savor a variety of pistachio-infused foods and products, including sweets, pastries, and savory dishes.

  • The Sagra del Formaggio Pecorino. This festival takes place in the town of Ragusa in November and celebrates the local pecorino cheese. Here you can sample different types of cheese, enjoy live music, and participate in cultural activities.

Keep in mind that festival dates and details may vary from year to year, so be sure to check closer to your travel dates for the most up-to-date information.

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