Sicily 2019: Taormina

We’ve finally reached the end of our babymoon!  If you’re just joining me on the virtual tour of Sicily, be sure to start back at the beginning with us in Palermo.  I also wrote a post about traveling while pregnant, and my next post will be a review of the day bag I brought that turned out to be a fantastic find.

Taormina is a ‘vacation-from-your-vacation,’ beachy spot that feels resort-y even in cooler weather.  We were blessed with bright sunshine, mild temps and clear views of Mt. Etna.

Taormina at a glance: cliff-side resort town, sunshine, warmth, pastel colors, ancient ruins, a picturesque view of Mt. Etna…all beside the ocean (not in photo above, to the left).

We arrived in Taormina in the afternoon and, once we navigated the uber-narrow ramp up the parking garage, breathed a sigh of relief after the chaos of Catania.  We checked into our hotel and started exploring!

The first, and really only, sight is the Greek-Roman theater.  Otherwise, Taormina is simply one long street of shops, cafés and piazzas.  The theater is really spectacular, hanging off a cliff beside the ocean and in view of Mt. Etna. The theater was originally Greek, then ‘remodeled’ by the Romans, who replaced the first ten rows with additional space for gladiator battles.

The Greek-Roman theater in Taormina is still used in the summer for shows.

Touring this theater was truly one of the most enjoyable theater experiences I’ve had.  (The best, hands down, has to be when Andrew took me to the Alexis Grusse circus show at an ancient theater in Orange.)  It”s truly ‘just right:’ not too big or too small, not too crowded or too empty, plenty to see but not too busy.  Our weather was nice, we weren’t on a timeline and we simply sat and took in all in.

The backdrop would have originally been a solid wall, but the gaping hole now gives visitors a beautiful view of Mt. Etna.

Once we were finished with the theater, we meandered the main drag and took advantage of the Piazza IX Aprile, which Rick calls Taormina’s “living room.”  Tourists and locals were out in full force, with children playing ball or riding bikes, adults chatting and the surrounding cafés were full.

Piazza IX Aprile, named for Taormina’s revolution against the Bourbons after Guiseppe Garibaldi (famous for unifying Italy) landed in Marsala.

The next morning, we were supposed to wake up SUPER early to head up to Mt. Etna (quite a hike–an hour car ride, followed by an hour on a 4×4 bus, followed by actual hiking in near-freezing temps), but decided to spend our last day of vacation LIKE A VACATION.  A novel idea, I know.  The next day was supposed to be the sunniest and warmest of the trip, and neither of us was ready to trade that for a hectic, cold, tiring day.  We awoke to blue skies and clear weather, which meant we actually got to SEE Mt. Etna.  When we arrived the previous afternoon, it had been obscured by clouds, as it usually is after the early morning hours.

After breakfast, we splurged for coffee and granita on the veranda of the super-posh hotel next to the Greek-Roman theater.  One coffee was like 11 euro, but the view and people-watching were worth it.

Swanky coffees at the Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo in Taormina.

Baby and I were feeling extra cute (finally wearing something with some color!) and so we helped ourselves to a bathroom selfie:

Low lighting, good moods and spring colors make for a great baby-and-me selfie.

We took the car out for a drive along the Mt. Etna wineries and picked up a couple bottles.  Apparently, Mt. Etna’s volcanic soil makes for some world-class wine, and we didn’t want to miss out on bringing a few bottles home.  (You know, for after baby.)

The vintner and Andrew at Filippo Grasso, where we stopped for a tasting. While I did drink a little wine with meals on our trip, I left the tasting up to Andrew!

We took the ‘Quota Mille’ (‘Altitude 1,000’) on our drive back, which gives visitors views of prior lava flows and abandoned farms.

An abandoned vineyard at the base of Mt. Etna along the Quota Mille.

We were up bright and early the next morning to head to the airport for our trip home.  We stopped for one last look at Mt. Etna before continuing to the car:

A view of Mt. Etna as the sun rises on Taormina.

Andrew and I constantly talk about future trips to Europe WHILE we’re on a trip to Europe.  We hope our next trip to Sicily, perhaps part of a bigger trip to Italy, will include our baby girl…although we might wait until she’s old enough to do her own walking, since we’ll HAVE to visit Mt. Etna that time!!

Mt. Etna, already collecting clouds, as we fly north toward Munich.

Arrivederci, Sicily!

To catch some of our other stops, click the links below:

Palermo

Segesta and Trapani

Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples

Ragusa, Modica and Noto

Siracusa and Catania

 

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