The Ionian coast offers stunning sea views, luscious vegetation, hill-top villages, natural woodlands, spectacular gorges and numerous old towns. Above it all looms the smoking, rumbling specter of Mount Etna. To the north is Messina, the first port of call for travelers to Sicily. Down the coast are pleasant beachside resorts peppered with Norman churches and castles. Off the coast, Savoca and Forza d'Agora are worth making the foray inland to the woods and craggy uplands. The Alcantara Valley and its spectacular gorge, as well as the heights of Castiglione di Sicilia, are worth another inland expedition southwest of the area's most illustrious resort, Taormina. Highlights of the Ionian Coast: Sipping a granita in the Godfather town of Savoca; The view of Mt Etna from Taormina's Greek theater; Plunging into the Alcantara Valley gorge; Snorkeling at Isola Bella. A great new resource. --Travel + Leisure. "The perfect companion for planning." --Rutgers Magazine. "These useful travel guides are highly recommended." --Library Journal. There aren't many places in the world you can ski and then hit the beach afterwards for a refreshing dip; see Greek, Roman, Etruscan, medieval and Arabic architecture all in the same town; and meet some of the friendliest people in the world. The richness in culture is demonstrated in the theater, cinema and art found everywhere. The coastal towns, the Mafia, the wines and foods, the astonishing history - all are explored in this guidebook. Full color throughout. This is excerpted from our full guide to Sicily.