Caltagirone: A Ceramics Side Trip -- A lovely drive 30km (19 miles) southeast of Piazza Amerina takes you to Caltagirone, an enchanting little town that earthenware potteries built. Glazed pottery is offered at shops throughout the town, whose most celebrated attraction is Scala di Santa Maria del Monte, a stunning set of ceramic steps leading from old town to new town. There are 142 lava stair treads graced with majolica tiles -- no two alike -- that evoke everything from Moorish designs to baroque patterns.

As you go along, you'll encounter Branciforti, Scala di Santa Maria del Monte 3 (tel. 0933/24427), which sells stunning ceramics in deep shades of blue with swirling arabesques. To learn more about ceramics, head for the little Museo della Ceramica, on Via Roma (tel. 0933-58418), open daily from 9am to 6:30pm and charging an admission of 3€ ($3.90). Later you can relax in the shade of the Giardino Pubblico, a public garden nearby.

The tourist office is in Palazzo Libertini, Piazza Umberto (tel. 0933-53809). Parking is available in a public lot near Chiesa San Francesco di Paola, approached before you reach Piazza Umberto. You can purchase parking tickets at various bars and tobacco shops throughout town.

If you'd like to spend the night, the Grand Hotel Villa San Mauro, Via Portosalvo 10 (tel. 0933-26500), has 91 first-class rooms for 202€ ($262) per night. The best place to eat is La Scala, Scala Maria Santissima del Monte 8 (tel. 0933-57781), where meals cost around 35€ ($46). It's near the base of the famous stairs, and may be unique for the mountain stream running through it.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.