Sicily - The beautiful Taormina at the foot of the majestic Mount Etna
Sicily is an island that in the past has somewhat been associated with a number of negative attributes - 'the mafia' and 'the active Mount Etna' being the most common. We somehow conjure up thoughts of 'the godfather' or the film 'volcano' but the reality is that your chances of coming across anything remotely close to either of these scenarios is very, very slim indeed. In fact, your main concern should be the amount of weight you may gain whilst feasting on Sicilian delights such as the famous sweet 'cannoli' or the 'Arancini balls' (a large deep fried, breaded rice ball with an oozing savoury centre) - I can personally recommend the latter!
My home in Sicily was the hill top town of Taormina. This stunning and picturesque resort is located approximately 45 minutes from Catania airport and offers the perfect location to explore the surrounding area. Taormina is relatively small so I found a 5 night stay to be sufficient but I do think that you could easily fill a 7 night stay with the extensive variety of excursions on offer. The most popular of these excursions is Mount Etna which is a 1 hour drive from the resort. There are various half day and full day excursions on offer to Etna depending on how extensive you wish the tour to be. Other excursions include vineyard tours, Isola Bella (a small island just off the coast of Taormina) and half/full day boat trips to various locations. If excursions are not your thing then a meander through the cobbled streets or a visit to the public beach can be just as enjoyable.
One thing I would say about Taormina is that it can prove to be a test of stamina in places. Being a hill top town, you will come across steep inclines and numerous steps to climb so I would not say that it is great for those with mobility issues. However, for those that are willing to take on this small challenge, the reward by way of the stunning views, is worth every single step. There is also a cable car available between the town and the beach which is a relief during the very warm summer months.
As I am sure you are aware, one of Italy's greatest pulling powers is the lure of her mouth-watering cuisine and delicious wines - Sicily has both in abundance. Being a coastal town, Taormina has an array of fresh sea food on offer as well as fresh pasta dishes and hand made pizzas. The town is full of restaurants that cater for all tastes and the cost to eat out is very much dependent on location. Like anywhere I guess, you will pay for a sea view.
Being a wine-lover, I could not wait to try Sicilian wine. My partner and I signed up to a wine tasting evening located at a local bar in the centre of town. The host, like many Sicilian's that we made contact with, was very welcoming and full of Italian charm. We sampled 2 white wines and then the famous red, 'Nero D'Avola'. All were delicious and I would strongly recommend trying them whilst in Taormina.
I visited Taormina during the month of August amongst temperatures as high as 34 degrees. It can get very warm indeed during the summer months but do not let this put you off. The town offers plenty of shady areas and the majority of hotels come with a pool for that refreshing 'quick dip'. Taormina also has a public beach as previously mentioned and a swim in the crystal clear warm water will soon cool you down.
I hope this post goes some way to enticing you into visiting the stunning island of Sicily and the resort of Taormina. The island has so much to offer every visitor and once you immerse yourself in her beauty and way of life, you'll find it hard to say 'Arrivederci'.
For more information, please do feel free to contact me. I would be more than happy to answer any questions that you may have before booking your trip to Sicily.