Many Santa Venerina holidays are spent walking in the beautiful countryside surrounding the village. Numerous trails wind through the nearby hills, orchards and vineyards. You can even pause your picturesque walk for a spot of wine-tasting.
Santa Venerina is part of The Wine Route of Etna, an itinerary that takes you through this wine-growing region. You can take a unique guided walking tour of the route, which will stop off at small wine-cellars, impressive vineyards and wine museums. The highlight is a tasting of the exclusive Etna DOC wines, made with grapes grown in volcanic soil.
Volcanoes and caves
If you’re fond of hiking, travel to nearby Parco dell’Etna. Established in 1987, this National Park incorporates the vast volcanic slopes of Mount Etna, as well as rugged moorland, fields, vineyards and unspoilt villages. There are many hiking and biking trails running through the park, linking points of interest.
Montagnola is one of Mount Etna’s most majestic peaks, towering 2,500m above sea level. There are hundreds of cave systems within the park, created from lava flows. The most famous is La Grotta del Gelo (The Ice Cave), and it’s so high up you’ll find ice in it all year round.
You can explore the National Park independently, but going on a guided tour is recommended. Local operators have many budget-friendly excursions that show you the park’s hidden corners.
Delicious Sicilian Cuisine
Despite its small size, there are a variety of restaurants in Santa Venerina and the surrounding area. Rustic trattorias (Italian-style restaurants) sell handmade pasta, such as seafood spaghetti and pistachio ravioli. Wood-fired pizza and creamy truffle risottos also feature on many menus.
Enjoy savouring the unique Sicilian flavours over a few glasses of wine in a nearby osteria (wine bar), finishing off with a homemade gelato or granita for dessert.
Travelling further afield
Alongside the beaches and the volcanic landscape of Etna, there are plenty of attractions that can be visited nearby. Only a few miles away is Zafferana Etnea, a spectacular city built on a platform of volcanic stone. This chic, black and white town has an atmospheric cathedral and monastery, and the illuminated volcanic peaks are sometimes visible at night. This is the ideal spot for sightseeing and shopping. Museo Sicilia in Miniatura – a miniature village – is a popular attraction with children and grown-ups alike.
Santa Venerina is just a 40-minute drive from Catania, an elegant yet energetic Sicilian city renowned for its Baroque architecture, ornate churches and domed palaces. The city also has a thriving food scene, with plenty of traditional restaurants and local markets, but it has a modern side, with youthful bars and trendy boutiques, too.
In Santa Venerina, Sicily reveals its unspoilt beauty. Days drift lazily past as you sit in the beautiful piazza, eating sweet almond biscuits from the bakery, and take lengthy hikes to nearby vineyards, followed by delicious, leisurely meals. Couple this with a some memorable beach trips and a visit to nearby Catania, and you have the perfect all-round holiday. You’ll be captivated by this stunning region.