A weekend stay in Zafferana Etnea, Sicily is just perfect for exploring the Mount Etna area. Mount Etna, a stratovolcano, the tallest active volcano on the European continent, is a must for visitors to Sicily. While Mount Etna truly is a must visit we equally enjoyed those late afternoon Sicilian lunches. Over the weekend we not only checked out the volcano but also took time to explore Zafferana Etnea and the surrounding area.
Zafferana Etnea and Mount Etna
After four wonderful days in Ortigia, Sicily we were off to Zafferana Etnea. We arrived around mid-day. The first thing that we did was to explore town before lunch. Ristorante il Castello di Bacco on the plaza near the church was where we decided to have lunch.
When we discovered that the house wine was passed its time the waitress happily took it back. We ordered another wine, Terra della Baronia, IGT Sicilia 2006. It was a good choice. The pasta we ordered was made with local mushrooms. After an introduction to the local mushrooms it became hard to resist ordering mushroom dishes wherever we dined that weekend. The chocolate dessert we selected was just perfect for sharing.
Later that afternoon we check into our B&B and relaxed for the rest of the day.
Next day we drove to the top of the Etna Volcano where we explored the crater and the slopes of Etna. As we drove down from Mount Etna it became quite foggy. In fact during our November stay the weather was generally overcast. When we drove up to see the volcano on that mid-morning however, there were some sunny spots. In the parking area at the top there was good visibility at mid-day. After we explored a little and drove down it became foggy. The weather did not deter us from exploring the area on the volcano’s slopes. The lower slopes of Mount Etna have fertile volcanic soil, which make it great for agriculture. The result is throughout the area you will find vineyards and orchards.
After exploring Zafferana Etnea, we decided to have lunch at Ristorante Pizzeria Moulin Rouge. We began lunch with a bottle of red wine, Terre della Baronia, IGP Sicilia 2009. A caprese salad with our main courses (pasta with local mushrooms and the meat plate special) was a hit. We had some local chocolate ice cream for dessert. Overall lunch at Ristorante Pizzeria Moulin Rouge was quite good. We also had a great waiter.
While in Zafferana Etnea we stayed at Aria Dell’ Etna B&B. Breakfast each day was an opportunity to sample some of the local pastries. We could not resist trying Sicilian cannelloni, or the breakfast offerings of local cheeses, meats, cati fruit and jams. Yes, with these awesome breakfasts, late afternoon lunches there was absolutely no need for dinner. For further information on dining in Zafferana Etnea area see best restaurants.
Travels to nearby Messina and Taormina
On the last day we drove to Messina. When we took Highway A20 to Messina we saw many towns along this route. We stopped in at Taormina on our return. Taormina, setting on the hillside of Monte Tauro, overlooking the ocean immediately caught our attention. As we drove the winding, narrow road up the steep hillside, the views were absolutely amazing. The road nevertheless, became narrower and more widening, as we drove to the top of Monte Tauro. We stopped briefly at the top then drove back down.
After our road trip to Messina we returned to Zafferana Etnea for lunch. This time we stopped for at Bar del Bosco SRLS. For lunch that day it was perfect timing to try a simple red wine. Again, we ordered pasta with local mushrooms. This road trip was the perfect way to end our trip. While most visitors come to see the Etna Volcano we would recommend that they take some time to discover the charming countryside and culinary offerings in the area was well.
Monday morning after a delightful weekend touring Mount Etna and the Zafferana Etnea area we drove to Agrigento. You can check out our travels in Sicily and elsewhere at Spaswinefood, or visit my travel column at the Examiner.
© Sharon Parsons
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