One of Joe Banana’s private drivers will be waiting for you right at the gangway of your cruise ship in the port of Messina. He will be holding a sign with your name on it.
This shore excursion will start with a visit to Acireale, a beautiful ancient town whose foundation was lost in time but remains rich in legend. The name Acireale in fact comes from the shepherd Aci who fell in love with Galatea who in turn is loved by the Cyclops. Enraged by jealousy, the Cyclops kills Aci and a river formed in the place where he was murdered. Acireale is the modern name given to this city by the King of Spain in 1642. Many of the monuments in Acireale that you will see today on your shore excursion from Messina are from the Baroque period.
Visit the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul on your shore excursion: a beautiful Baroque church first built in 1550, that contains many important works of art. You will also visit the most important church in Acireale, the Basilica Collegiata of Saint Sebastian. The Cathedral is also from the same period and should be visited during this shore excursion in order to see the works of art by the native artist Pietro Paolo Vasta. You can even enjoy a walk along the Corso Umberto, the most important street in the city, where you can admire many prominent palaces.
Before leaving Acireale, make sure that you taste the famous granita, which is actually lemon shaved ice.
We will then keep driving south to Catania, a well known city in Italy due to the variations of landscape within its borders: coastline, plains, and mountains.
Situated at the base of Mount Etna, Catania has been destroyed seven times by the volcano and earthquakes in the course of written history. For this reason, there are very few remaining traces of the Greek and Roman periods in this city.
Nevertheless, you will be able to see the remains of the 2nd century Roman Theater and Amphitheater, the Odeon from the 3rd century, and the thermal baths, as well as the acqueduct.
After this we'll visit Aci Castello and the Cathedral of Saint Agatha and, although the main part of the church was rebuilt after the earthquake of 1693, it is still a rare example of the Sicilian Baroque style that can be seen in Catania. You should definitely have a walk along the Via Dei Crociferi to see one of the most beautiful streets in Catania before continuing on to the Cyclops Riviera.
This legendary coast, made up of lava stone from Etna's numerous eruptions, is picturesque with its contrast to the deep, limpid sea. This shore excursion will take you to the important towns along the way, like Acireale with its beautiful historic buildings and the quaint fishing village of Aci Castello, or Acitrezza and Acicatena.
At the end of this memorable tour, your driver will bring you back to the Port of Messina to board your ship.