November Sicily Plan

November is a great month to visit Sicily. It is not the snowy season and weather can sometimes be still warm, particularly by the sea. The mountains offer scenic views and their best fruits come to a full availability: chestnuts and mushrooms, above all. Do not forget this is also the season of the prickly pears: the spiky figs, which are the cacti fruits, are a traditional food in Sicily.

Prickly pears are a typical presence on Sicilian tables in November
Prickly pears are a typical presence on Sicilian tables in November
Events on the Natural Side

Autumn brings over all its typical flavors and colors. It is the time of chestnuts: local people still go to Mt. Etna, the highest volcano in Europe, to fill their baskets up. Chestnuts sellers suddenly pop up at every corner. Roasted chestnuts mark the November sky with their smell and smoke. It is the season’s street food, caldarroste. Autumn in Sicily also means mushrooms: you will find baskets full of porcini and other kinds on the street.

November also means St. Martin: the day, which usually extends over a couple of days particularly during the weekend, is an ancient celebration of food (particularly, chestnuts) and wine. The event Cantine Aperte (Open Wineries) offers the chance to visit some wineries, their facilities and vineyards, which usually are accessible on reservation only for the rest of the year. The town on Fornazzo, on the slopes of Mt. Etna, presents an interesting Food Festival. In the mountainous area of Messina, a lovely festival on wine and ancient music traditions will be the Giro delle Botti (Barrels Tour).

Wineries are often open in November in Sicily
Vineyards overlooking the smoking craters of Mt. Etna
Cultural Festivals

November in Sicily begins with an ancient and popular fest, The Festival of the Dead. Sicilians remember friends and relatives who are passed away, visit cemeteries and the kids are told that the gifts they receive are offered by the dead. November 2nd is still a day of deep mystery, when life and death show their coexistence, when the memories of dead people mix with the happiness of kids who long for their gifts. Many events celebrate this special day. One is the Sugar Night, which happens in several Sicilian cities.

A big event will certainly be Wine Expo 2019, to be held in Marsala, one of the Sicilian capital cities for wine. During 4 days, visitors will have to chance to taste food and wine, explore histories, and learn some new facts about wine. In the town of Castell’Umberto, between Mt. Etna and Messina, a famous palio will take place in November. Food and ancient traditions still merge to remind us where we are from and to preserve our heritage, while brave people challenge in a spectacular barrels race.

Barrels Race is a traditional event in November in Sicily
Corsa delle Botti (Barrels Race)
Our Recommendation

Our recommendation is to plan a long weekend, at least. The suggested area is eastern Sicily: Catania international airport is a perfect hub for moving all along the eastern shore, between Mt. Etna and its mountain views and tastes and the Greek and baroque side in Syracuse and Ragusa. It is well connected and served by both many international airlines and low-cost carriers from several European cities (e.g. Ryanair, EasyJet, Vueling, to mention a few). You will bump into art exhibitions, cultural festivals, markets and local fairs, where to combine food for mind and for mouth or get lost in picturesque small towns or in a outlets and malls for shopping and fashion lovers.

Taormina is a perfect destination for November in Sicily
Mt. Etna as seen from Taormina’s Greek theatre

Catania lies just in the middle way between Syracuse and Mt. Etna. Conveniently located and well served by free highways, railways and bus systems, Syracuse is 1 hour drive from Catania. Mt. Etna is closer, but no highways go up to the volcano, of course. You will have to pass through several small towns, of which many deserve a stop. Mt. Etna also offers loads of activities for all kinds of fun and difficulty. This is also the area of great wine producers and a visit to their vineyards and cellars is a must. It will be a good combination of food for mind and for the soul, which is what Sicily is after all.

Useful links
Catania Tourist website
Syracuse Tourist website
Catania International Airport website

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