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The volcanic Mount Etna looms in the background of Sigonella, a naval air station which serves both American and Italian military air forces near the east coast of Italy's largest island, Sicily. Car rental is the most efficient way to travel the 10 miles separating Sigonella from its nearest city, Catania, which happens to be Sicily's most populous city. Catania is loaded with public transportation options, but private vehicles remain the easiest way to explore eastern Sicily's rural coastal regions.
Who to Book With
The Europcar branch situated in the terminal of Sigonella's small airport includes a dropbox outside its door, but is closed on Sundays and significant holidays. Visitors needing vehicles during these times can easily obtain them online or in person at the Avis office in nearby Catania or from many other places within the larger Fontanarossa Airport.
Best Time to Go
No other part of Sicily experiences hotter summer weather than Sigonella and the rest of the island's east coast. Summer is also when rates are most expensive and crowds are at their peak. Prices and temperatures both go down during spring, between April and June, and the autumn months of October and September. Although many attractions, restaurants and hotels are closed in winter, Mount Etna remains a popular skiing destination between November and March.
Need to Know Essentials
To claim your rental vehicle, these documents must be displayed:
- A current driver's licence from an EU nation or an International Driving Permit
- Secondary photo ID such as a passport
- A valid credit card
- A booking record or reference number
Click on our FAQs page for more information.
Driving in and out of Sigonella is generally easy, as is exploring most other parts of Sicily's scenic east coast by automobile. The one exception to the rule may be the city of Catania, which is most easily explored by public transit. The roads bordering Sigonella are the SP104 to the south and the SP69II to the north and west. Sigonella lies west of the E45, the main motorway to Catania.
Our Guide to Italy features still more driving details.
As a major naval air station for two countries, Sigonella has its own small airport, but most civilians will find the larger Fontanarossa Airport better suited to their air travel needs. In addition to car hire, Sigonella's ground transportation options include taxis, shuttles and a Catania city bus route which passengers can board in the Marinai Housing area.
The nearest rail station to Sigonella is Catania Centrale, which stands in the middle of Sicily's second-largest city. From this significant station, passengers can board metro trains to other Catania neighbourhoods or regional trains to destinations across Sicily and Italy. The Ferrovie Dello Stato Italiane website features detailed timetables and ticket information for regional rail journeys.
Catania City Bus Route #427 stops at Sigonella's Marinai Housing area and travels to Catania. The NAS 1 NEX Customer Service Desk in Sigonella is the best place to buy bus tickets, which cannot be bought directly from bus drivers. All tickets are valid for up to 1 hour, 30 minutes after their initial purchase and must be validated when boarding buses. The Interbus website contains the most up-to-date schedules for buses bound for both Catania and Fontanarossa Airport.
Sigonella has its own taxi service which transport passengers across the base and to other nearby destinations including Fontanarossa Airport, Catania Rail Station and spots throughout Catania. Night rates are higher than day rates, but fares range between £12 for a journey between NAS 1 Sigonella and NAS 2 Sigonella to up to £75 for an excursion to Acitressa.
The most popular daytrip destinations for Sigonella residents are the nearby city of Catania and Mount Etna, which can be easily seen from this naval air station. With the exception of Catania, a centuries-old metropolitan area whose population is nearly a million, car rental is the easiest way to reach most of eastern Sicily from Sigonella. The smaller community of Novara di Sicilia on Mount Etna's north side is well worth the approximately 1 hour, 30 minute drive from Catania.
Catania - Sicily's second-biggest city stands at the foot of Mount Etna, 10 miles east of Sigonella. Although much of this 2,700-year-old city was damaged during a catastrophic 1693 earthquake, Catania's 17th century city centre remains a World Heritage site. The bustling fish market off Piazza Duomo and Via Etnea food and clothes markets are worth early morning drives.
Mount Etna – Visitors must dress warmly and arrive early in the morning to board the single daily bus service bound for Europe's highest volcano. Dried lava runs down this long dormant volcano and popular winter skiing spot. As clouds often cover Mount Etna's summit, the best ways to see the top of the volcano are aboard cable cars or guided mountain climbs.
Novara di Sicilia – This picturesque medieval community 60 miles north of Catania is listed among the most beautiful towns in not only Sicily, but all of Italy. Visitors can see Mount Etna at one end and the Aeolian Islands at the opposite end of Novara di Sicilia, which contains five lovely churches set among its mountainside homes.