Route of the Grand Tour: Goethe & Co.

Retracing today,  more than two centuries later, the journey made by an educated and passionate artist, searching for the remains of a classical civilization integrated in beautiful landscapes observed with curiosity, wonder and excitement of the romantic Aesthete, allows to get in touch with the extraordinary nature of the Sicilian landscape through an  absolutely ‘transversal’ approach that connects the history of an ancient culture and the many beauties of its forms , of its flavours and  the thousands of facets of its colours. Also other characters like Houël, Maupassant, Anatole France, Winckelmann, Brydone, Von Riesedel, Denon, Dolomieu, Jordan, Saint Non, Bartels have tried a description of a mythical Sicily, favoring in a decisive way the  enhancement of its most admirable places . This makes the Journey of Goethe very popular and  loved still today in North Europe, and this route  becomes an invitation to follow the descriptions made by the traveller who contributed to the knowledge of  Sicily in  northern Europe. Still today a lot of Germans come to Sicily thanks to him.


Porta Felice
Porta Felice

Goethe lands  in Palermo in April 1787 and remained enchanted. As an experienced traveler he covers a route, which is still easily reachable on foot, which leads into the heart of the historic city centre.

Mediterranean Itineraries Cultural Association


The place,  known for being the birthplace of the 13th-century rhymer , Ciullo d’Alcamo (or Cielo), is situated in a wonderful location at the slopes of Mount Bonifato, opposite the scenographic  Gulf of Castellammare. The  toponym derives  from the Arab ‘ Alqamah who founded it in the 9th century.1449662733-0-alcamo-300x159

Municipality of Alcamo



The town centre consists of a system of adjacent, communicating, baroque squares which create the background of the most important monuments of the town : the Cathedral, the  Pignatelli Palace, the Ducal Palace, that stands on the ruins of an ancient castle of Frederick II and on the first floor houses the beautiful Collegiate Church of St. Peter. Today, exactly  where  the Selinus theatre is situated ,   there was on

Teatro Selinus

ce a modest inn  which, as the plaque, placed to the left of the main door shows, gave hospitality to Goethe  on the night of 21 April 1787.

Municipality of Castelvetrano



The town seems  dominated by its castle and by Mount San Calogero, from    which there gush the thermal waters and the vapors that have made it famous throughout the centuries. Among the most famous craft products there is ceramics, already known at the time of Diodorus Siculus and then flourishing under the Arabs. An art that is still handed down among   ovens and sciacca_ist-659x420craft workshops.

The municipality of Sciacca




5) AGRIGENTOagrigento-temple
Goethe and Kniep, the landscape painter who accompanied the poet during his journey in  Sicily, spent several days in Agrigento, exploring the city centre  and its surroundings, they were  enchanted by the temples and learnt also  to appreciate « the most picturesque aspects »of the place.

Historic Villa Goethe

Located in a position which dominates  the whole valley of Salso,  the city lies between three hills (Sant’Anna, Monte San Giuliano and Poggio Sant’Elia) which , organized as a bow, form a basin within  which develops part of the old town and all the southern districts. Not far from the ruins of the castle of Pietrarossa, likely an Arab fortress, there is the archaeological museum, divided into two sections, one for modern art and for archaeology.


Regional Archaeological Museum of Caltanissetta

Nicknamed “The Viewpoint of Sicily”, Enna (the ancient Casenna-630x420trogiovanni and Italy’s highest regional capital ), from his  height of 931 meters, seems really dominating  the whole island. Goethe described it thus: ‘an isolated ridge which gives the landscape an unusual and severe character’. 

Municipality of Enna

Lying between the Ionian Sea and the lower slopes of Mount Etna, Sicily’s second city has always lived in close relationship with the volcano, starting from the lava rock which was used to build it. Its history saw a continuous alternating of dominations of peoples and dynasties, which took place from the 8th century B.C.  Goethe visited Catania and was very impressed.

Municipality of Catania

teatro-greco-romano-taormina-5-554x420The fascination that Goethe felt ,when he arrived at the ancient theatre in Taormina, is a memory fixed in time by his own words:  «Probably   an audience in a  theatre  had never seen  before such a  kind of perspective». It was the  favourite destination of the Grand Tour and  the seat of nobles and bankers from  William II of Germany to the Rothschilds.

The municipality of Taormina

Halfway between two seas, between the  two extremes of the Mediterranean and later , between the two Vice kingdoms of Naples and Sicily, it has always been influenced by its role as contact point. The defensive building  of  Fort San Salvatore and the Rainieri lantern, on the peninsula with the same name,  which in the East closes the port, are the entrance to the city. The main streets are via Garibaldi and via I Settembre, the latter leads from the sea toward the city centre, gathered around piazza cathedral.  Goethe lived for a long time  in Messina.

Municipality of  Messina