Sicily is rich with culture, history, geographical and archaeological wonders and much of this is easily accessible from Casa Piccolo Paradiso.
Whether you want to just chill by the pool, head to the local beach or visit the local historical cities and sights – one thing is for sure… you won’t get bored around here!
The nearby beautiful town of Gioiosa Marea has all the normal amenities of a town including shops, supermarkets, banks, churches, restaurants, bars, etc. It is a vibrant, typical Sicilian town and its inhabitants are amongst the warmest and kindest on the island.
The main coast around this area has numerous beaches which are easily reached within a short drive (the nearest in the town is just 10 minutes’ drive away). We have beach umbrella’s available for guests to use and you can find lots of free and open space to plant yourself for the day and enjoy the beautiful Saracen coast.
For those who prefer to use one of the official “lido” areas with organised umbrella, sun beds, shower and life guard, we can point you in the right direction.
Nebrodi National Park
For those who like to drive around and take in some of the local national park scenery, the nearby Nebrodi National Park is just a few kilometres away and there are some breath-taking drives through some quintessential Sicilian mountain countryside interrupted with traditional hill towns nestled in the hills as you drive around. There are some stunning panoramic views of the rear of Mount Etna from Randazzo on the far side of the Nebrodi National Park. You can stop off at some local hill town restaurant and make a day of it or just do a half day tour and stop off for a nice coffee or gelato.
Just one hour's drive west of Casa Piccolo Paradiso, sitting serenely between its natural bay and the towering rocky granite mass of La Rocca, is Cefalù which for a small town, surprisingly offers a great deal, including sandy beaches, winding Mediaeval streets flanked with all manner of shops, excellent restaurants and the towns unique Norman cathedral.
While Cefalù's origins go back to at least Greek times (the name derives from the ancient Greek word for "Cape"), the town we now know and love was built at the behest of the Norman King, Roger II. Construction of the Cathedral began in 1131 and is an exquisite example of what has been termed "Sicilian Romanesque". Thanks to the splendid mosaic of Christ Pantocrator above the altar, it is twinned with the Palatine Chapel in Palermo and the Duomo in Monreale.
We highly recommend a post siesta ride to this beautiful historic town where you can roam the narrow bustling streets packed with all manner of shops and boutiques and when you’re ready for a rest, head for one of the towns many fish restaurants where you can sample some of the best food on the island. A post dinner stroll with the statutory gelato or just sit and people watch whilst enjoying a Granita in one of the towns pavement cafes before you head back to Casa Piccolo Paradiso.
Santo Stefano Di Camastra
The small town of Santo Stefano di Camasto is just a few kilometres before the motorway exit for Cefalu and for those fans of local, colourful ceramics and pottery, a visit to the towns famous ceramic stores and factories is a must.
The main highway through the town is littered with huge stores packed solid with colourful local ceramic pottery in all shapes and sizes. Anyone planning to visit this place should leave lots of room in their suitcase as you will not fail in acquiring at least a few beautiful pieces either for souvenirs or to brighten up your home.
A visit to Santo Stefano di Camastra should be combined with your visit to Cefalu.
The views from Casa Piccolo Paradiso across to the Aeolian Islands derive a high level of curiosity about them and a visit to this part of Sicily makes a visit to at least one of them almost compulsory!
The UNESCO-protected islands of Volcano, Lipari, Salina, Stromboli, Panarea, Filicudi and Alicudi are a little piece of unspoiled paradise and rise out of the waters just across from Casa Piccolo Paradiso. The waters around the islands provide colourful emerald lagoons for swimmers and divers while trekkers can climb the hissing volcanoes and gourmets can enjoy the local island cuisine and wine.
All the Islands are all easily accessible either by public boats or hydrofoil which depart from Milazo with some private boat excursions departing from Patti or Capo di’Orlando.
For the more adventurous, Casa Piccolo Paradiso offers a private escorted day-tour of Volcano and Lipari on a private Gomone. We leave around 09.00hrs in the morning and board the craft on the nearby beach in Gioiosa Marea and spend the day touring the two islands stopping for regular swims in the crystal clear waters, a coffee on Volcano and lunch on Lipari. We return to the mainland shore around 17.30hrs. The cost of this private tour varies according to numbers and season and is weather dependant.
Just a short drive from Casa Piccolo Paradiso just east of Patti, you cannot but notice what seems to be a large church perched on a rock high above the sea. This is the Sanctuary of the Black Madonna of Tindari, a place of pilgrimage but also the site of an ancient Greek town and one of Sicily’s most fascinating archaeological sites.
The southern part of the hill on which ancient Tindari stood is protected by the original Greek walls, but most of the remains are on the north-western sea-facing side. Here there are Roman habitations and baths, complete with wonderful floor mosaics and ingenious radiator heating systems. Further on is the Basilica, a fine example of Graeco-Roman architecture built around a series of arches, and the well-preserved theatre, built in the 4th Century BC. Here, in the summer months, it is possible to see performances of Greek plays and other theatrical events.
The story of how the Black Madonna arrived in Tindari is the stuff that legends are made of. According to local tradition, the statue, which is certainly of Byzantine origin, was one of many works of art smuggled out of Constantinople in the 8th and 9th Centuries during the period of Iconoclasm initiated by Emperor Leo III.
Although an hour and a half drive away from Casa Piccolo Paradiso, Sicily’s most popular and visited historical town of Taormina is worth every minute spent getting there and is one of those must-see places on the Island.
Often referred to as “the Monte Carlo of the southern Mediterranean” Taormina is considered to be one of the most magical and romantic places on the island of Sicily. It was built at the foot of Monte Tauro at an altitude of 200 meters above sea level which affords it fascinating views of the active volcano Mount Etna and the azure blue Ionian Sea.
Taormina’s history dates back to the 4th century, when the city was founded by settlers from Naxos. It was later, during the 3rd century BC, when Greeks built one of the most beautiful amphitheatres in the world here.
In Taormina, you can enjoy its unique atmosphere by walking through the narrow and steep streets of the town, which always lead to some panoramic terrace or square. The main square is Piazza IX Aprile with lots of cafes, pastry shops, restaurants and pizzerias inviting you to sit down and taste the local specialties.
The main shopping street in the city is the “Corso Umberto” which is lined with many shops, boutiques, first class hotels and restaurants. The town still preserves its ancient appearance and pleasant atmosphere, which make it one of the most visited and most attractive resorts in Sicily.
From Casa Piccolo Paradiso, you would ideally need a day to visit Taormina or combine a half day visit to the town with some chill time at Mazzaro and Isola Bella, the beach just below Taormina.
Other Places to Visit
There are numerous other wonderful places to visit on the Island including the beautiful capital city Palermo which is either a 2-hour drive or a 2-hour train ride away. The port town of Messina which is close to the mainland of Italy is also just 45 minutes from Gioiosa Marea.
For those who like to combine relaxation with physical wellbeing, a local Gym and Wellness Centre is available in the town and is just a short drive from Casa Piccolo Paradiso. Olos Wellness Club, is a well-equipped and maintained sports complex with a 25m indoor swimming pool and various studios offering formal classes. Guests of Casa Piccolo Paradiso can enjoy the use of Olos at a special reduced rate and Sam is a qualified personal trainer and is available for private sessions (chargeable) if required.