Zafferana Etnea has a refined heart and the historical center is located around the huge Piazza Umberto I. At 600 meters above sea level the view of the Ionian Sea from the public gardens is fantastic.
Off the square is the Church of Madonna della Provvidenza, a classic example of Sicilian baroque architecture with its white stone facade and twin bell towers.
The town is the highest in the province of Catania and is unusual in that it offers both a fully developed summer and winter tourism offer. You really can ski and take in the beach on a single day in spring.
Together with the volcano this is a unique visitor experience.
Zafferana Etnea sits at the confluence of three volcanic valleys. They are the Valle del Bove, the Valle San Giacomo and the Val Caianna and all were formed between 100,000 and 34,000 years ago. Not that long in the scheme of things.
The greenest was always the Val Calanna. It was intensely cultivated and rich with chestnut trees and orchards although it suffered greatly with the lava flows of 1992.
The Valle del Bove came off even worse and the eruptions practically destroyed the coal and ski industries.
That leaves the Valle San Giacomo. Situated to the north east of Zafferana Etnea the valley takes its name from a 15th century priory dedicated to San Giacomo. Pilgrims still come from all over Sicily to celebrate the saint every 25th July.
They were certainly praying like mad in the summer of 2001 when Etna started gushing without a pause.
The typical products from the valleys include wine, fruit, mushrooms and honey (15% of Italy's output).
October is the best month to experience the flavors of the area due to the 'Ottobrata', a series of events and tastings in the squares of the town.
Look out for the local biscuits called 'sciatore'. Covered in chocolate they are popular throughout the winter months.
See also Mount Etna food itinerary
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• arancini • sfinciune focaccia • sicilian orange balls • seafood fettuccine pasta • bruschetta from sicily • bread with tomato and aubergine • maccheroni alla norma pasta • cassata alla siciliana • torta povera pie dish • almond blancmange • cous cous fish recipe • pignolata messinese sweet recipe • caper sauce summer dish from lipari • sicilian christmas salad • giggi eoliani carnival biscuits • sardine and pistacchio torta
• small coffee museum in palermo • tuna fishing and the tonnara • historical sicilian cheeses • eolian islands dishes • pachino tomatoes • arab culinary influence in sicilian food • a taste of sicily • cous cous fest • sicilian cannoli • mount etna food itinerary • sfinciune or sfinge? • cheese wine of ragusa • sweet and sour palermo • catching swordfish and tuna • salame sant'angelo • sicilian blood oranges • pistacchio nuts • sicilian lemon industry
• footpaths of the madonie park • carnival of acireale • contemporary art itinerary • noto valley wine route • luigi pirandello literary park • alcamo doc wine route • romantic sicily itinerary • valley of the temples in agrigento • temples of segesta • mozia salt roads • egadi islands • pantelleria • san vito lo capo • marsala • easter week in enna • towns of enna province • arab and norman rule in sicily • nicosia • classical greek theater of siracusa • greek colonization of sicily • pantalica necropolis • lampedusa island • art realism in taormina • taormina greek theater • guide to taormina • guide to messina • province of messina • cefalu • scary easter festivals • natural reserve near siracusa • easter arches of san biagio platani • aeolian islands archaeological tour • story of the trinacria • aeolian islands • island of lipari • alicudi and filicudi • stromboli • island of salina • island of vulcano • zafferana etnea • sicilian linen towns • mount etna tour • ragusa and ibla ragusa • palermo street food