Stage 3 2020

Stage 3 | 6 October 2020 | 101.2 km

Giardini Naxos >
Villafranca Tirrena

Giardini Naxos

A popular tourist resort in the province of Messina and only 45 km from Catania, a town of 9 thousand inhabitants on the promontory of Capo Schisò, where the first colony of Magna Grecia was built. The name name already speaks of its ancient past (it was founded in 735 bC, the name “Naxos” comes from the homonymous island of the Aegean Sea). Today it is a true treasure chest of history, nature, culture and archeology, enclosed between the splendor of the Ionian Sea, Taormina and the magnificence of Etna. It is no coincidence that it is one of the favorite destinations of the international jet set in the Mediterranean, the beaches and the sea of ​​Giardini Naxos are famous. But Giardini is a tourist resort for everyone, with all types of accommodation (holiday homes, camping, B & Bs, up to luxury hotels), all of which always guarantee a high level of quality in hospitality

Food and Wine

From the exceptional Ionian fish to the red orange and then: green pistachio from Bronte and honey, whose production is a flagship of the Etna area but not only; the “Interdonato Lemon” (not sour like normal citrus); the extraordinary extra virgin olive oil (from Etna, Nebrodi, the valleys of the Ionian Riviera); the Prickly Pear of Etna; the dairy sector, with Sicilian pecorino whose history dates back to the mythical times of Ulysses and the Cyclops and then cherries, apples, pears, hazelnuts, mushrooms …

The wine, the great excellence of the area, recognized with the “Etna DOC” brand, deserves a separate mention. The wines of Etna have a personality linked to the native vines and the production area, each side of the volcano, by exposure, altitude and distance from the sea, produces different effects on the vine and on the wines produced for minerality, freshness and alcohol balance. On the slopes of the volcano there are vineyards between 400 and 800 meters. above sea level. The vines linked to this territory are Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio, Carricante and Catarratto. The different lava flows that have followed each other over the centuries have formed a territory which, due to the climate and chemical composition of the basalts, offers a home to the saplings of the native vines. Dense plantings and very low yields and century-old trees with no irrigation are a good business card for great wines.

Places of interest

Not only sea and beaches but also history and culture: in Schisò you cannot give up visiting the vast archaeological area, with an Antiquarium that boasts a truly extraordinary wealth of finds, as well as the ancient defensive “Fortino” and the Castle of Schisò , to then end up under the scenographic statue of the “Nike” which greets the sea and travelers from Punta di Schisò (or Naxos). The tourist season is practically long all year round, with many events often involving the participation of great international artists.

Around Giardini Naxos:

Taormina, a few kilometers away, a world-famous location.

The Alcantara Gorges, a few minutes from Giardini Naxos, are a wonder of nature, a true mosaic of lava basalt drawn by fire and carved by the water of the Alcantara river (reminiscent of the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland or the peninsula of Scandola in Corsica), but the majesty of the prismatic and columnar basalts, even in “Organ pipes” of the Gorges is unique in the world: almost perfect hexagonal fractures, the deep black color of the rocks, very smooth and shiny walls, clear river waters … A place of great charm.

Lastly, Etna, which dominates the landscape, the highest active volcano in Europe, an incredible, extreme territory, above all expectations, but easy to discover starting from Giardini.

Villafranca Tirrena

It rises almost to the extreme eastern tip of Sicily a few kilometers from Messina, extending from the Tyrrhenian coast to the slopes of the adjacent hills where we find the villages of Serro and Calvaruso. Thanks to the geographical position, the excellent road and rail connections and the logistical possibilities it enjoys, the town is a perfect destination for those who love to enrich their stay from a cultural and naturalistic point of view.

Food and wine

Numerous typical dishes of the classic Sicilian tradition can be enjoyed in Villafranca: pasta with sardines, stuffed squid, pasta with toasted breadcrumbs and anchovies, pasta with garlic, oil and chili pepper; dishes expertly integrated with other aromas which, inserted by local chefs, give each dish a unique flavor. Wines: Faro, Nero d’Avola, Passato and Malvasia, Eastern Red / White “Sciare” and Ancient Vinai worthily accompany these dishes.

Places of interest

The Castle, built in 1590 but its origins date back to the 9th century. A.D. it is an elegant palace enclosed in a wall reinforced by corner towers that give it the appearance of a manor. The Ecce Homo Sanctuary of Calvaruso with the adjoining convent of the Reformed friars, built in 1619, preserves a wooden statue of Christ Ecce Homo which annually attracts thousands of tourists and pilgrims. The Museum of Medicine, one of the few examples in the sector in Italy and abroad, houses a conspicuous and interesting collection of medical instruments dating back to the 1700s. The Mother Church, dedicated to St. Nicholas of Bari, houses a cross inside wooden 16th century and other valuable statues of the seventeenth century. Other artistic works are kept in the other parish churches of S.Gregorio (Byzantine baptismal font) The rural church dedicated to S. Croce (1350 ca) which shows the signs of the presence in the territory of the Knights Templar, the church of S. Margherita, Madonna of the Candlemas and “Our Lady of Lourdes”. The Geosites, rocky deposits visible on the surface that testify one of the most extraordinary events in the geological history of our planet; the salinity crisis that hit the Mediterranean sea between 7 and 5.5 million years ago, together with the Bauso stone (gray/pinkish limestone rocks) constitute an interesting itinerary for the lovers of the sector.


Story fictionalized by A. Dumas father, published in Paris in 1868, by the local bandit Pasquale Bruno. The “Bamparizzu” (bonfire) interesting ceremony that takes place on the evening of December 5 in Piazza Castello; on this occasion, bundles of wood and symbolically a boat in honor of the patron saint are burned. A curious legend is linked to the wooden cross preserved in the Church of S. Nicola: it is said that to ingratiate itself with the favors of the saint, the cross was carried in procession to the beach and bathed here with sea water. But for some consecutive years it happened that the one who carried the cross materially, within the year died. As can be understood, the tradition was lost because there was no longer anyone willing to carry the cross.