The beginning of a Love Affair ... Part II

So after my bejewelled sandals stepped foot on the tarmac, I was immediately seduced by Sicily. We had already seen Mount Etna as our plane was coming into land at Catania airport. (A little tip when flying to Catania, nine times out of ten when the plane lands Mount Etna is on the left hand side so make sure you book the window seat on the left, the view is stunning)
Landing at Catania Airport

We collected our luggage and met our driver at arrivals.

The autostrada (motorway) is a fantastic introduction to Sicily and not just for the Sicilian way of driving. From Catania until the turnoff at Giardini Naxos you will see Mount Etna on your left and the Ionian Sea on the right sparkling under the Sicilian sun. You drive past ancient blacken lava flows and glimpses of orange and lemon groves. The coast line on the right is known as Riviera dei Ciclopi, Coast of The Cyclops. But more about that another time.

Once we arrived at our hotel, the jolly manager instantly started to tease me pretending he did not speak English and let me struggle with my Italian phrasebook with much amusement. He was the first friend we made in Sicily and we adore him.

Taormina viewed from Giardino Pubblico
After my extensive research about Taormina we were desperate to visit straight away. After dumping our luggage in our room and studying the map we had just been given it didn’t seem that far to walk. Little did we realise how high up Taormina actually is and how many bends the road up has.

And so we walked and walked and walked, I had swapped my sandals for a pair of leather plaited flip flops. The plaited leather combined with the Sicilian heat was slowly rubbing away at my feet creating lovely blisters.

For some bizarre reason Amarillo by Tony Christie came into my head and so I started to sing “is this the way the Taormina”.

Finally we came across a side road which we believed would be a quicker route, we started passing some magnificent hotels and the Giardino P├║bblico, according to our map we were nearly there. Taormina is 205 meters above the Ionian Sea, so you can imagine how high we had climbed.
We finally found some cobbled steps leading up past tantalising looking restaurants and then we reached Corso Umberto. Taormina did not disappoint …. It was Gorgeous.

Corso Umberto the main thoroughfare threads through the town with two medieval archways each end, with many intriguing alleyways leading upwards and downwards. Corso Umberto is completely pedestrianized apart from the many wedding cars that pass through. Taormina is the perfect setting for a romantic destination wedding.

After getting our bearings and our first gelato we decided to go back to the hotel for a dip in the pool and return that evening to eat. Then what did we do? We walked all the way back down. Ouch to my poor feet.

On arrival back at the hotel, the manager despaired “are you crazy” !!! So we booked a driver to take us back up and bring us back down that evening.

The next morning when we woke up we realised we were too late for breakfast and thought we would sneak out and catch a bus up to Taormina to do the touristy things.

But we were caught out by our new friend, “where are you going? you have not had your breakfast” “go and sit outside on the terrace”, he had specifically left a table laid out for two, just for us, such is the hospitality of Sicily.

After our amazing Sicilian breakfast we attempted to leave the hotel again “where are you going now?” “Taormina” we replied “wait there my friend will take you”, after a phone call a battered old fiat Punto arrived and in we got for our ride up to Taormina.

It is experiences like this that made us fall in love with Sicily.

I can always spot the newest tourists in town, they are the ones on foot that we pass by on the road whilst we are driving up to Taormina. Maybe like me they have the lyrics to Amarillo in their head.
Next Post ……. Taormina, The Pearl of  The Ionian Sea.

Corso Umberto, Taormina

Piazza Aprile, Taormina

Porta Messina, Taormina

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