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Villas in east Sicily

Ionian CoastMagnificent, overdeveloped and unruly, the Ionian Coast is Sicily’s most popular tourist destination, its commercial engine room and home to 20% of the island’s population. Thriving cities like Messina and Catania do the Greeks proud - they are still centres of trade and business and house of the largest universities on the island. Moneyed entrepreneurs have built their villas and hotels up and down the coastline, eager to bag a spot on Sicily’s equivalent of the Amalfi Coast, a fortunate few owing the luxury homes of Taormina’s Monte Tauro.

Above it all towers the muscular peak of Etna. With puffs of smoke billowing from its snow-covered cone, it’s an ever present reminder of the superficiality of success that rings its base. Like Californians, Etna’s residents enjoy the good life to the full, waiting for the ‘big one’ that might sweep it all away. Nowhere is this more palpable than in the black city of Catania, the capital of the Ionian Coast, destroyed by Etna in 1669 and rebuilt again in lava.

For tourists the Ionian Coast is an exciting destination, home to Europe’s largest active volcano and its 590 sq km of well-managed national park. Within its boundaries it shelters some 20 farming communities, a far cry from the profiteering coastline. It is the largest unspoilt wilderness left in Sicily, home of the Titans and as Aeschylus saw it, the column that holds up the sky.

Villas in east Sicily

Messina harbor

Catania at sunset with Etna on the background

Panoramic view of Taormina

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