Novara di Sicilia (ME)

On the map it looks tempting - instead of driving from Taormina to Cefalù along the busy- and expensive - coastal autostada, why not "cut across" diagonally through the Peloritani mountains? Yes - provided that you apreciate that half the distance will take double the time. (Especially do not try this if you are thinking of catching a ferry from Milazzo to the Aeolian Islands.) I've done it each direction, and it is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular routes you can take (in an island which is not short of dramatic scenery!). An added incentive is the stop for lunch or coffee in the bracing mountain village of Novara di Sicilia (about 1200 metres above sea-level) - worth the trip in summer for the refreshing alpine coolness alone. The north-south route is marginally superior, because of the unusual views of Etna as you descend the hairpins.

I visited it in early December 1993 with Anna, a charming German lady who was once married to an Irishman (whom she met in Taormina) - he never learned German, and she spoke very little English, and so they spent their married life conversing in school French. Being neither of them true francophones, they couldn't have cared less about genders, subjunctives - or even whether the word existed in French at all. The only time I ever really enjoyed speaking French!


Use the table below to find your way around Sicily:

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