Top 5: Sicily off season


Top 5: Sicily off season

Fall in love with Taormina’s out-of-season charms. Be captivated by warm days and heartwarming flavours, colourful crafts and a Christmas beyond compare.

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Sicily has been attracting visitors to its balmy climes since antiquity. Taormina’s own popularity grew when the artist, Otto Geleng, arrived in February 1863 to find a warm, sunny day. It was his scenic paintings—shimmering sea framing views of snowy Mount Etna—that lured incredulous artists and nobles to the town. Come and discover what enchanted them all those years ago, as you bask in the 15-20°C temperatures common in November and December.

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Europe’s biggest active volcano looks particularly alluring in autumn, when its forested slopes resemble an artist’s palette of red, ochre and bronze. Explore the northern side to encounter dramatic, eruption-scarred landscapes. You’ll also find excellent wineries that thrive on the mineral-rich slopes. Stop for a tour, lunch and an expert-led tasting. Some of the highest vineyards in the world—at 3,500ft and above—are found on Etna. These grape-friendly conditions have appealed to winemakers since the 6th century BC.

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Breathe in the sweet, tangy fragrance of oranges in the autumn and winter air. First brought to Sicily by Arab settlers in the 7th to 8th centuries, today the zesty fruits can be enjoyed in an array of varieties. From the blond-fleshed Navelina, Valencia and Ovale to the blood-red Moro, Sanguinello and Tarocco. How best to sample them? We recommend a refreshing breakfast or a citrus-themed treatment at the Wellness Centre in Grand Hotel Timeo, A Belmond Hotel, Taormina. Indulge in the Dolce Vita and you’ll be zinging with vitality.

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Take advantage of the quieter months to engage in intriguing aspects of Sicilian culture. Vibrant Caltagirone ceramics depict Moorish heads or exuberant plates. They encapsulate the island’s melting-pot heritage and joie de vivre. Join a workshop to fashion your own colourful piece. Or immerse yourself in the Opera dei Pupi, watching a mesmerising puppet show where Saracens battle Norman knights. Then take your little ones to craft their own papier-mâché puppets.

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Sicily comes alive in the festive season, with twinkling lights, ornate decorations and elaborate nativity scenes. Hop in an Ape Calessino for a magical tour of Taormina. Ride up to the hilltop village of Castelmola to admire a showcase of creative cribs and tableaux along the medieval streets. Afterwards, why not enjoy a hands-on class with our pastry chef. He will help you make festive treats, such as nutty, figgy buccellati cake.


Make your base at the storied Grand Hotel Timeo, A Belmond Hotel. Perched beside Taormina’s ancient Greek Theatre, it commands spellbinding views of the coast and Mount Etna. Take advantage of our exceptional winter programme to enjoy a range of activities. From heli-tours over the snow-clad volcano, opera shows, and a host of sumptuous festive dinners. Magical memories are guaranteed.

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