Day 10: Away from the crowds in Taormina

Trip Start May 30, 2013
Trip End Jun 29, 2013

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Flag of Italy  , Sicily,
Sunday, June 9, 2013

After waking up leisurely this morning, I checked TripAdvisor and was relieved and appreciative to see last night's request for ideas and suggestions for our last two days! Thank you gggdg from Siracusa,  calumthemighty from durham, NC, USA, and Vagobonda from Here & There.  As a group we’ve decided for today to go first thing enjoy our breakfast at the Hotel Villa Schuler, visit the Greek Theatre before the tour groups and then take the bus up to the little town of Castelmola and walk down.   

Our breakfast table was situated on a picture perfect patio overlooking the Sea – we chose a table in the shade yet positioned so we could feel a slight breeze.  For our breakfast we were spoilt for choices!  This is our first breakfast with cooked to order hot dishes and we totally indulged ourselves –  with an assorted fruit, meats, and cheese plates.    We tasted granita which is homemade with fresh strawberries, sugar and ice topped with whipped cream – sort of like a fruit smoothie in consistency but much sweeter and served with a brioche.   The fried eggs had a yellower yolk than we get at home and crispy edges and had much more flavor than I make at home.  I wonder if they were prepared with olive oil?  I took photos of the plates and platters since each was so artfully presented that an artist could paint a still life from them.  Needless to say, we enjoyed the pleasure of the visual as well as taste treat. 

By 9:05 AM when we walked the Corso Umberto over to the Greek Theatre there was hardly anyone in sight!  What a different feel.   By 9:10AM when we arrived at the Greek Theatre, there were few others on the grounds.  We sauntered around soaking in the great views of Taormina and the surrounding mountains.  We took photos of each other, asked others to take photos of us, took photos of others – all of us shared ideas of where a good spot would be for a photo.  It was sunny and the temperature was already in the high 70’s.  When the areas for good photos were filled with people on tours, we departed, having thoroughly enjoyed our stroll and the endless views that always inspire me. 

Oh my gosh, the bus ride up to Castelmola was a bit scarry – I had a window seat and the sheer drop-offs down the mountain made me just want to look straight out.  Harvey who had been driving on the narrow roads yesterday up Mt Etna to Sant-Alfo asked if this was what the drop-offs looked like when he had been driving.  It’s great that Harvey gets to see the scenery and not have the responsibility of driving!  It was really steep and I mean steep!  And oh boy, I wouldn’t want to be a car going down when there is a bus going up.  So we’re glad we took the bus, didn’t try to take our own car up or walk it for that matter. 

Now Castelmola is high above Taormina and is like a little hamlet on a promontory, with tiny streets and alleys, small shops, restaurants, church, private residences and a castello.    Walking the small streets, we looked for a place to sit and settle with a cold drink.  Harvey saw a small place with an inviting terrace with tables and petunias in terracotta planters and in we went.  It wasn’t yet noon, but we tried two refreshingly cool beers and a large bottle of water.  We hung out enjoying the ambience of this friendly place and when it just seemed right, we moved on to explore Castelmola.  The Castello was closed for construction, but we visited the atmospheric Church and walked the numerous shaded alleys and found more views.  Charming. 

Before heading down to Taormina on the foot path, we decided to have a simple lunch.  We checked out some options but in the end decided to return to our earlier refreshment stop, the Trattoria Pizzeria "Il Vicolo".  This time, we ordered for sharing, a number of antipastos and bruschetta.  It was just perfect – each was tasty and flavorful – and it really hit the spot.  We hung out enjoying the conversation and the quiet location that had just a really good “feel”.  Before leaving, we each took turns using their toilette facilities and it was at this time that I walked near the kitchen to see if there were any interesting photos.  And here I meet “Pippo”, the father of the family who own the restaurant. He is standing over the gas stove, sautéing and jostling a pan full of carbonata – just the antipasta that we all have totally enjoyed whenever we order it – it’s sort of like pizza, no carbonata we have is ever the same.  I stand there and watch Pippo and finally when he says that he is done, I ask to take some photos – and then I ask how he makes it – and before I know Marco, his son, is helping to translate and I’m getting a cooking lesson!   I have the recipe and will definitely try it at home!  Before departing, I take photos of Emilio and Monica, Marco, Carmilina and Pippo.  If you go to Castelmola, check out “Il Vicolo”!

The walk down from Castelmola to Taormina was, well, downhill – sounds silly, but it actually was quite uplifting.  The walkways changed to stairs and then changed back to walkways.  We passed private homes with gardens and all sorts of flowering plants, trees, cactus and succulents.  Seeing the homes literally built into the mountain was fascinating.  At one area, the walkway was covered with wildflowers totally overgrown but so cool to walk through.   We had purchased some extra water to take with us and when we found a few shady spots where we could rest, we hung out along the way enjoying the views and cooling down in the shade.  We ended in the back alleys of Taormina and finally at the Communal Garden of Taormina just around the corner from our Hotel Villa Schuler.  It was thoroughly engaging and fun!

After a brief rest and a much needed shower, we joined Barry & Karen on the rooftop terrace of the Hotel Villa Schuler with its drop dead gorgeous views.  We opened one of our complementary bottles of wine and chatted as the sun went down and the temperature cooled down.  On this rooftop terrace, we were high enough to have the top of a pine tree right next to where we were sitting.  Several pigeons were cooing as we bantered about and told stories.  Just hanging out time.

Before dinner, we took another stroll through the Communal Garden visiting another section.  We had chosen a few restaurants on TripAdvisor, but being undecided among us we opted to take the recommendation of the hotel front desk staff person.  Unfortunately, we ended up at a mediocre restaurant that seems to cater to groups, called al Giardino.  If you are a vegetarian or lactose intolerant, this would not be a restaurant of choice.  Otherwise the food was simply less than average and was pricey.

All and all, we were happy that the day flowed as it did and we enjoyed ourselves.  Thank you again, TripAdvisors!

Tomorrow is our last day in Sicily.  Signing off now – going to research the suggestions made so we can discuss at breakfast tomorrow.  We all can’t believe that tomorrow is our last day in Sicily!


Lesson learned – we should always ask before making a reservation if there are vegetarian appetizers and main courses that are made without milk, cream or cheese!  And remember to read TripAdvisor reviews!  And remember to write TripAdvisor restaurant reviews so we all help each other! 

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Mickey Oxford on

Victoria and I are enjoying your trip vicariously. Thanks for the beautiful narrative.

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