Sicily and Taormina
Probably every one knows about Sicily from “The Godfather” or other mob movies. My idea was the same when I went there “What am I doing in this mafia controlled island?” but it didn’t feel so different from any other area in Italy. Even if the mob may be present and very active there, we didn’t notice it. Sicily is the biggest island in the Mediterranean and the home to the tallest active volcano in Europe, the Etna (3326 m). Taormina is one of the most beautiful towns on the island.
To get to Sicily we took a ferry from close to Reggio Calabria which dropped us in Messina. From here to Taormina it’s a 50 km drive on the beach. The road goes through a lot of small and cozy towns but none of them seemed to have anything special. However, the view from the beach is spectacular and the water is very nice in the area. There are areas outside the cities with empty beaches lying right across the road.
As we approached Taormina we could see Mount Etna getting bigger and bigger. The beach sand and rocks also turned to a darker color due to the volcanic soil on the island.
Taormina lies on rocky hilltops high above the Ionian Sea on the east coast of Sicily. We spent a day in Taormina and the sights were lovely with the Ionian sea underneath. Most people leave their cars at the start of the climb and enter the city with a cable car. The Mazzaro cableway costs 6 euros and offers a beautiful view of the beaches below. People can enter the city with a car but it is really crowded and a parking place is close to impossible to find. We entered on foot and walked on the narrow streets, admiring the architecture and the Italian ceramics.
What to do in Taormina
There are some really nice beaches and islands around the city but due to the limited time we had we didn’t have a chance to try the beaches. Also, you can do different day and half day visits to Mount Etna if you have enough time. There are several agencies offering trips in the old center, a trip is not hard to book.
The restaurants in the old center are also spectacular. Lots of restaurants are located in gardens with terraces and views towards the sea. Owners and different signs invite you to these restaurants with special offers. However, most of the restaurants in the center are expensive compared to the prices in Reggio Calabria or other smaller towns in the area. But then, Reggio Calabria does not have a restaurant with a stunning view to the Ionian sea.
Tourists are very interested in the Greek Theatre (10 Eur) or the gardens named Villa Comunale. Other tourist attractions include the Corso Umberto I (main street), the Piazza IX Aprile with stunning views of the sea and the fountain of Piazza Duomo located in front of the Cathedral. The streets in the center are filled with lively colored ceramics shops and souvenir shops. Restaurants are usually located in the gardens behind the buildings.