Accessible Travel in Sicily
Sicily, the gem of the Mediterranean, the island of pristine sandy beaches and crimson lava with ash clouds of Mt. Etna, the legacy of Western civilisation, is also an island accessible to all. Why not sink in the 3000 years history on the terrace of a local fish restaurant, while enjoying the delicious cuisine? The island that helped shape the birth of our culture successfully brings together wild nature, historical feel, and modern practicality, leaving you in a state of harmony. The vivid colours of the azure sea and green Mediterranean flora contrast with the volcano-lit night sky.
Moreover, Sicily is not only ideal for all water activities, visiting archaeological sites or a peaceful retreat in comfortable accommodation, but it also has every opportunity to be enjoyed in an accessible way.
Fly in to the Catania International Airport, which has recently been renovated (2007) and follows every European legislation regarding accessibility and customer care support. From there on there are five accessible vans in Sicily with a back ramp for wheelchairs and another for foldable wheelchairs.
Continue to the accommodation at the Grand Hotel Faraglioni or the Marina Palace, both hotels which have been inspected and are 100% compatible for wheelchair users. They are very luxurious 4-star hotels, believe it or not, the only ones following completely the European rules for accessibility!
After check in and a delicious meal, go discover the sites, try scuba diving, take a jeep excursion up Mt. Etna or learn how to make your own olive oil! The famous Taormina, the first ever attraction in Sicily, is only a 30 minute drive from Catania and was built inside a little mountain at 200m above sea level. It is currently the most advanced in accessibility - almost every bar/restaurant has accessible toilets. There are many attractions in this popular city including a Greek theatre, built in the 3rd century BC; it was renovated by the Romans, and is used today for summer performances. The theatre, built into the hillside, has excellent acoustics and a spectacular view of the sea and Mt. Etna. The Medieval Quarter of Taormina starts with a clock tower gate and leads into picturesque narrow streets with old shops now selling modern clothing, crafts, and souvenirs. Further on, the Corso Umberto, a lively main street through the town, is lined with shops and bars. It is perfect for enjoying an outdoor drink while watching people strolling by.
One of the best squares is Piazza IX Aprile , with a great view of the sea. At the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, the architecture is very striking: a mixture of Arab, Norman, and Catalan Gothic architecture, a Catholic church and the remains of a Roman theatre alongside Taormina's tourist office. The tourist office building is an old palace which also houses the Museum of Sicilian Arts and Traditions. Other cultural high points to explore are the baroque centaur (the symbol of Taormina) fountain at Piazza del Duomo, the fortress cathedral of St. Nicolas, the regional archaeological museum, the ruins of the medieval castle of Madonna della Rocca and the public gardens with exotic flowers.
Accessible Tour operator, Seable, provides accessible packages of active holidays in Sicily. They have access to one of the accessible vans, which is used for every activity, can get competitive prices for the two four star hotels, arrange a palette of restaurant meals and activities, all included in the price. Because Seable provides accessible transport during the entire holiday, from arrival to departure, and organises the accommodation and meals, all you have to do is chose the activities that are right for you to have an unbelievable tailor-made accessible holiday.
Seable is able to organize groups of maximum 6 people, with a capacity of 3 wheelchairs at a time. Seable offers wheelchair users and/or the visually impaired a tailor-made tour of Sicily that will allow you to experience the rich culture of this island as well as participate in some unique activities that you will remember forever.
Seable can arrange for you to participate in one of the main activities in Sicily, Scuba Diving. The course is run by the charity LIFE, with the same team and instructor that achieved the Guinness world records, Martino Florio (paraplegic) and Benedetta Spampinato (blind). At the end of the course you will get a license to dive that is valid worldwide and forever. The Scuba Padi Course is accredited by the HSA (Handicapped Scuba Association), taking place over the length of five days, in a mix of theory and practice. The first two days mainly consist of theory followed by practice in a swimming pool first and secondly in deep waters. The next 3 days include a boat excursion and deep sea dives. Every person always dives with a buddy. There isn't a lift in the boat that lowers people in to the ocean, but instead the experienced scuba team gently lowers people. The duration of each trip depends on the condition of the sea and the type of dive but usually lasts about 2-3 hours.
Mediterranean lovers and healthy eaters will appreciate the fact that olive oil is very sacred to this area. You can learn about the rich history of olive oil, harvest it and make Sicilian olive oil to take home with you. Learning how to fish is an early morning activity and lasts 3-4 hours. Seable splits people up into two boats: one does traditional trawling while the other uses fishnets. You can learn while watching and interact wherever possible - fishing rods are brought on both boats. Depending on the season, the catch can include bluefish, mullets, garfish, sea-bass, tuna, and mackerel. Not only do you experience a real fishing expedition, but you also get to eat your fresh catch at the end! Besides various activities, there is also a possibility for accessible tours on land and water. Seable offers them all and takes care of everything.
Mount Etna is Europe’s highest active volcano. The excursion takes you to one of Italy’s most beautiful national parks, Parco dell’Etna, surrounding the volcano. The tour leaves in the morning in the accessible van and travels 2000m above sea level to the "camp of wisdom", where there is a toilet for wheelchairs, but not in the best of conditions. However, there is another option, the nearest restaurant, 5 minutes away. A cable car takes people 2500m up the volcano, but is only big enough to fit 1 wheelchair at a time. The trip takes 15 minutes. There is not much accessible space at the top, but the incredible view itself makes up for it. This tour is from about 9am to 5pm, but can be shorter if desired. If you like, Seable can put on a BBQ in the woods near the volcano.
There are three accessible cultural tours for wheelchair users to the city centre, the fishing villages and Taormina. The tours always take place in the afternoon after 4-5 because the weather is fresher. The city centre is a 10 minute drive from the hotel. The group heads to the historic monuments of the city: the city hall, the university, old Roman ruins and ends in a local "pizzeria" where you are privileged enough to taste the authentic Sicilian style pizza.
The fishing villages of Acitrezza and Acicastello are a short distance from the hotel and can easily be reached with a short stroll. According to the local legend, this is the site where the Cyclops threw rocks at Odysseus in The Odyssey. The islands are referred to as the Cyclopean Isles by the locals. In Acicastello, you will also see a Norman Castle! In either village you can experience a local boutique fish restaurant with local specialties and fresh fish of the day.
On a tour with Seable, restaurants have been inspected by a Seable's director to ensure accessibility rules are followed and accessible toilets are in place. Seable’s full package includes every meal for the entire trip including local wine. Boutique restaurants are visited, specializing in Sicilian specialties and using only fresh and organic ingredients. There are also local food tastings and fishing events, where you can eat the freshly caught fish. Whether you are looking for a holiday place with a spectacular view, a culturally impregnated holiday or to Scuba Diving, Seable gives you the opportunity to select and put together the most eventful and enjoyable accessible holiday on Sicily, the unforgettable Mediterranean island.
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