Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Report 1195: Ten Days in Eastern Sicily
By Linda Hagstrom from PA, Fall 2003
Trip Description: Ten days in eastern Sicily in Sept 2003, including three days in Taormina and a week hiking Sicily with Exodus while staying at an agritourismo outside Toarmina. Includes a trip to Etna.
Destinations: Countries - Italy; Regions/Cities - Sicily
Categories: Hotels/B&Bs; Walking/Hiking; Independent Travel; Package Tour; Single Traveler
Page 1 of 5: Taormina
This trip to Eastern Sicily was part of a longer trip to Italy that began in Sicily. I had been to Italy on three earlier trips, and loved it. I thought I was ready for Sicily. I would spend the first three days in Taormina. Since I love to walk and hike, the second part of my time in Sicily was a week hiking in the hills about 15 miles west of Taormina with Exodus. Exodus is a British travel group that does hiking and cycling vacations. I am a woman, 62 at the time of this trip, and my husband is not the traveler that I am, so he is happy for me to go and welcomes me back, but I can't get him to go with me. So I travel alone and often spend a week or two hiking with a group as part of my vacation.
I flew from the US to Rome, and on to Catania the same morning. I had to wait at the airport for about an hour for a bus to take me to Taormina. The trip was very scenic, particularly the climb up to Taormina, which is high on a cliff.
I could see right away that I would like it; I love the sea, medieval streets, walled towns, doing things outdoors, the tropical plants, but particularly the sea.
It took me a while to locate my hotel, the Villa Schuler, and it was fine. The breakfast room had a view of Etna and a one-minute walk up the garden path took you to the Corso Umberto, the main shopping street of Taormina.
Pretty soon I was walking along the Corso Umberto to find the cable car that takes you to the beach. There is a cove directly beneath Taormina, with several hotels and a nice beach. There were several places where you paid to have a lounge chair with an umbrella plus of course a bathroom and usually a restaurant. I picked one and settled in for an afternoon of swimming and napping to overcome my jet-lag. The weather was gorgeous. This afternoon was the first time I ever saw a topless woman at the beach.
In the evening I had a delicious swordfish dinner at a restaurant recommended by the hotel, and really enjoyed walking around Taormina. There is an old town gate, a piazza with a great view of Etna and the beach far below, many nice stores (I am not a shopper though). One of the Sicilian specialties is marzipan, which is candy made of a paste of almond and sugar, and you can't believe the gorgeous things they make with it. Many stores had displays of marzipan prickly pears, figs, peaches, cherries, on and on. The Sicilian pastry shops also had displays to die for, starting with cannoli.
Etna had recently started to erupt again, and I could see clouds of smoke or steam at the top.
The next day, after spending some time in the morning at the Greek Theatre, which has amazing views of Etna and the sea, I decided to take advantage of my hotel's offer to go to a beach by car. I got a ticket at the hotel and a car came at the appointed time and took me and some people from other hotels to a beach just north of Taormina. There we paid and entered a beach place. The swimming was very nice, and I spent most of the day there. Two things stand out - I had a wonderful lunch of spaghetti with some seafood, in the little restaurant at the beach place. It amazed me that a tiny place like that could produce such a great meal. Then, late in the day, I noticed a group of people sitting near me laughing and having a great time. A masseuse had come along the beach and was giving a massage to a woman in their group who was topless. It was quite a sight, and all the people in the group were enjoying it immensely!
That evening, I had wonderful pizza at a place recommended by the hotel, and enjoyed walking around Taormina. I also enjoyed a snack of prickly pear (the real kind, not marzipan) that I bought from a street seller. He cut all the spines off the prickly pear and peeled it before he gave it to me to eat. It was good!
The next morning I took a taxi early to the bus station. The only Saturday bus that went to Gole Alcantara left very early. And so I had to say goodbye for a few days to Taormina, and go inland.
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