Being in Calabria, or ‘the toe’ of Italy, the only place left to go was across the Strait of Messina into Sicily, with our first stop being Taormina. Not wanting to deal with three trains and a ferry, we arranged for a private driver to pick us up and drop us at the ferry port in Villa San Giovanni to take the boat to Messina where we would take a short train ride to Taormina. The drive from Tropea to Villa San Giovanni was smooth and uneventful…until the end when we approached the ferry port. Due to the heavy traffic around the port, our driver wanted to drop us off in the middle of the road to avoid having to join the queue. As there wasn’t a sidewalk and we had 6 suitcases between us, we refused and asked him to drive the extra 50 metres to the carpark. We’re not sure why he felt we were in such a rush and felt the pressure to get us into the carpark quickly, but he ended up crashing into, what looked like, a brand new Mercedes Sedan. We eventually got into the carpark and while our driver dealt with the irate Mercedes owner, we made our way to the ferry. Fast forward through a 20 minute ferry ride and a 40 minute train ride, we arrived in the hilltop town of Taormina, which has been a well-known tourist destination since the 19th century. The town is very picturesque, with amazing views of the Italian mainland and sea.
Where We Stayed
This multi-level AirBnB situated in the centre of town, near to Giardini della Villa Comunale (City Park), which has great views. The apartment was suitable for us, but it is spread out of four storeys, with the kitchen and balcony on the top floor, so it would not be suitable for people with mobility issues.
What We Did
Teatro Antico di Taormina – the famous Greco-Roman amphitheatre is still used today for concerts and other events. With views of Mount Etna, the sea and the town, it is very impressive. We found out the day we arrived that popular opera trio Il Volo were performing at the amphitheatre, so bought tickets and went to this.
Isola Bella – Given that Taormina is located on the hills above the sea, access to the beach is not easy, unless you take the cable-car, which isn’t cheap. The main beach was not anything too impressive either, despite being somewhat famous. Perhaps we were spoilt after having just been in Tropea with its amazing beach, but we spent only about an hour or so on the rocky beach before deciding to head back up to town. While it is a coastal destination, the town of Taormina has a lot more to offer than its beach does.
Where We Ate
Al Saraceno – This restaurant is on the other side of the town and takes longer to get there than what it appears on a map. With alfresco dining, with views of the coast and Mount Etna, we had chose this restaurant to celebrate a birthday and it was the perfect place to do so. The food was great, although the service wasn’t anything to rave about.
Licchio’s Bar – We came here for breakfast due to its varied menu, including an American style breakfast as some of us were tired of coffee and croissants. It is popular and was always busy when we walked by, however we were able to be seated immediately in the outdoor dining section, which is great for people watching. The Arancini were great.