Sicilian adventure: 7 days on a superyacht from Palermo to Catania

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Palermo

Captain of 54m Benetti-built Starfire, Carl Sputh, shares his itinerary for cruises from Palermo to Catania taking in historic sites and beautiful beaches

Day 1 - Palermo

On arrival at the Palermo airport, a host will warmly welcome you to Sicily’s capital city — also the largest city on the island — stupendously located in its own wide bay underneath the limestone bulk of Monte Pellegrino. Within minutes you will arrive on board in the Port of Palermo.

There will be time to relax, explore the surroundings, and meet the crew before heading ashore to explore some of Sicily’s legendary sites.  Visit the ornate Piazza Bellini, the cathedral, and the Arab-Norman Palantine Chapel in the Royal Palace. A trip up to Monreale allows for a panoramic view of the Conca d’Oro (the golden shell) — the beautiful valley beyond Palermo with a spectacular landscape.

In the evening, dine on board under the stars and enjoy the view, or head ashore to dine at one of Palermo’s many fine restaurants.

Picture courtesy of  Bargoti Photography/Shutterstock.com

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Ustica

The next morning your superyacht crew will serve breakfast alfresco as your skipper sets sail for a short, three-hour hop to the tiny volcanic island of Ustica — measuring just 3.3 square miles. Spend the day exploring this oasis of peace and tranquility.

Unspoiled by tourism, Ustica’s magnificent seabeds are protected as a natural marine reserve, capturing an abundance of life in its clear, turquoise waters. It is not surprising that the area around Ustica is a paradise for scuba divers and snorkellers.

We usually sail casually around the island visiting the numerous grottos along the coast. We also spend time at anchor near Ustica, allowing the guests to relax on the sundeck or participate in what will surely be some unbelievable scuba diving.

Some of the highlights on the scuba diving list are the delicate fan-like red gorgonias and the rainbow-coloured sponges which can be found at Grotta dei Gamberi (a depth of approximately 42m) and at Secca di Colombara (a depth of approximately 40m).  While at Punta Gavazzi (a depth of 9m and 17m) many archaeological artefacts can be admired and photographed.

Ustica is also home to some of the best rustic restaurants in the Mediterranean and you should make time to visit the underwater archaeological museum.

Picture courtesy of  Gandolfo Cannatella/Shutterstock.com

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The Aeolian Islands

Travel overnight from Ustica to between the toe of Italy’s boot and Sicily. Arrive at the Aeolian Islands, and to the crystal clear blue waters of Sicily’s northeastern coast, dotted with islands that vary in character and landscape. From lunar-like Vulcano, to the quiet beaches of Salina to the lush, cliff-top meadows of Lipari, the Aeolian Islands will fascinate you with their diverse and unusual topography.

First sail past Filicudi and Alicudi, then sail onto Panarea — the smallest island of the archipelago — and have a relaxing mud bath in the island's hot springs. If you want to dive then head to the centre at “La Gorgonia” on the island of Lipari, which can arrange expeditions to the best dives in the Aeolian Islands.

Picture courtesy of Lluigi Nifosi/Shutterstock.com

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Portorosa

After breakfast, depart for a two-hour cruise back to the Sicilian Coast, where Sicily’s most modern and efficient marina awaits. Welcome to bustling Portorosa, a fashionable tourist harbour located on the northeast coast near Milazzo.

Besides a splendid swimming pool surrounded by green vegetation, a wide beach, and an efficient shopping centre, Portorosa offers a great base for getting out and exploring the surrounding areas. Perhaps set out for a small fishing or diving expedition.

Picture courtesy of Andrew Mayovskyy/Shutterstock.com

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Historic Taormina

We usually depart Portorosa early morning for a five-hour cruise around the northeast coast of Sicily towards Taormina, a city that clings to the cliffs high above the eastern coast.

Drop anchor just off the island. If you’d like, spend the afternoon in picturesque Taormina, built on terraces cascading down to the sea. During a walking tour, pass cobblestone piazzas, elegant shops, and outdoor cafes en route to the Greek theatre. Appreciate the ingenuity of the Greeks who created the spectacular theatre with a beautiful natural backdrop of Mount Etna in the distance.

PIcture courtesy of  Aleksandar Todorovic/Shutterstock.com

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Messina

This morning, we will head out for a two-hour hop over to the port of Messina. The setting for Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” Messina has much to offer in the way of history. Its dramatic, boulder-filled harbor has challenged navigators since the days of Ulysses.

The Straits of Messina also offers opportunities for fishing and hosts many different types of fish with a good gastronomical reputation. Near the Torre Faro, a small fishing village overlooked by a lighthouse, you can find the “Fossa dei sugarelli” — a dark blue, cylindrical shaped fish only found off the Sicilian coasts. Many other varieties of fish can be found around Messina, including tuna, moon fish, red picarel, and grey mullet. Far out off the coast of Capo Peloro, large amber jacks are caught with a fishing line.

End your final day aboard with a wonderful Sicilian meal and nighttime celebration before cruising overnight to Catania.

Picture courtesy of Mffoto/Shutterstock.com

Itinerary supplied by superyacht Starfire

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