Taormina, Sicily, ITALY – May 24-26, 2016 – We boarded our private jet late morning in Slovenia for a brief flight to Sicily. The flight was long enough for us to enjoy lunch on the way as we exchanged stories of the trip so far and our anticipation of days still to come. On arrival in Catania on the Mediterranean shore we boarded our small coaches to take us up to the mountainside town of Taormina. We’ve heard reports of volcanic activity at Mt. Etna and were treated in the evening to a bit of a light show from the crater in the distance, viewed from the terrace of our hotel, Grand Hotel Timeo.
Our walking tour through this charming resort town that has been a favorite of celebrities through the years included the remains of the Greek theater that is not completely Greek, as the theater was rebuilt and expanded by the Romans in the 2nd century BC. Performances continue to be held in the theater to this day. Out on the edge of town, the theater provides a vantage point for views of the town on the hillside and Mt. Etna in the distance. The town retains much of its medieval atmosphere with buildings hundreds of years old; however, today trendy shops, artisan offerings, cafes and gelato shops are the current occupants. Through the labyrinth of small walkways and streets are many picturesque vignettes of residences, gourmet restaurants and businesses. Our dinner was at Principe Cerami at San Domenico Palace, a former monastery.
The volcanic activity did not prove much of a disruption to our visit to Mount Etna, Europe’s largest volcano which rises to 10,800 feet. We traveled by minibus and funicular to reach 8,000 feet, with hardened lava flows and volcanic cones attesting to the significant eruptions of 1983 and 2001. The visitor’s center provides evidence that the activity here can be much more dramatic than we have witnessed. Leaving the barren volcanic area, we visited the more fertile northern slope of Mount Etna to enjoy a typical Sicilian wine and lunch in the middle of a beautiful vineyard. We’ve enjoyed our visit to the gardens and terraces of Sicily and realize that all too soon we are on the way to our last stop on this journey; Porto, Portugal.
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Final stop, Portugal, click here…