Europe travel

Taormina- A Ritzy City on Top of the Mountain

IMG_1727

Taormina is one of the destinations I was really looking forward to seeing while staying in Sicily. I’d seen pictures and had many people recommended it while I was back at home. I absolutely couldn’t wait. I convinced Giulio, after much begging for a few days, to muster up some energy to go on Saturday. We ended up leaving Messina after lunch, and a nap, at around 5. It was the best I could do. Taormina is only a 30 minute drive away so he didn’t seem too worried, but I wanted to get some shots of the sunset, so I was grumpy and worried we wouldn’t make it in time.

We got lucky and found parking next to the bottom of the cable car. The car takes about 5 minutes to go up and comes around every 15 minutes. We figured we’d stay for the entire evening when we arrived, and I guess so did everyone else. There was a concert for one of Italy’s most famous singers that same evening in the famous Ancient theatre. That meant it was off-limits to us without a ticket, so I couldn’t get any pictures. 😦

IMG_1695

We ended up walking around the small streets seeing all the small shops and attempting to dodge the mass of tourists and buskers.

We made it to the iconic square Piazza IX Aprile which is considered to be the main square of the city. Here you see the entire coast along with Mount Etna (volcano). All the people line up against the rails to take their pictures and you have to wait an eternity to get a good spot. Also looking to take photos in the square are numerous couples who just got married in one of the churches.

Taormina is a popular spot for having a wedding because of the beautiful landscape and great location with many wedding venues to choose from. I have to admit seeing all these beautiful brides and grooms and their elegantly dressed wedding attendants made me a bit envious. How can you be that good-looking and maintain it with the heat and walking through these streets filled with people???

IMG_1690

We went back to this square multiple times throughout the evening to get pictures of the different phases of sunset. We also met up with two of our friends who were attending one of the weddings I had just mentioned. We chatted for a bit and then they went off to the wedding reception and went to have dinner.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Taormina has many small alleys that branch off wither upstairs or downstairs that leads to other shops and restaurants.

One of Giulio’s friends suggested we go to Villa Zuccaro, the best Pizzeria in Taormina, and with that recommendation I couldn’t argue. We had to walk up a few stairs that led to a medium-sized square with an elegant looking restaurant. We crossed our fingers that a table would be available since we hadn’t booked in advanced. Luckily we arrived at around 7pm, before the dinner rush, and were able to be seated.

 

Everyone in the restaurant was dressed nice, as most Italians do, and it was easy to spot the tourists. To our right there was a British couple complaining about the service, they hadn’t mastered the art of flagging down your waiter when you need him. To our left was an American couple. They were dressed in casual clothes, shorts and t-shirts, and Giulio and I made a bet to see which state they came from based on their accent. I suggested that they came from the West, as most travelers from America tend to be from the West. He was sure they came from the NorthEast. I overheard them speaking about how much tip to leave and used it as an opportunity to start the conversation. I let them know that tipping in Europe isn’t really necessary and can sometimes be offensive. They were surprised and said they’d just arrived today and didn’t really know the customs and pointed out their attire. I tried to suppress my giggle as to not be rude, and I asked where they were from. Boston. Damn, Giulio was right and now I owe him a coffee.

IMG_1708

The place was very busy and it took quite some time to finally get our pizza.When it finally came out it did not disappoint. Pizza is my favorite food in the whole planet. Here in Italy I always get either traditional Margherita or prosciutto crudo and parmesan cheese. This time I decided to try my usual prosciutto with a base of cream of eggplant instead of the usual tomato sauce. My god it was exceptional. I never thought eggplant sauce on a pizza would be good, but I’m glad I took the risk.

As I finished my meal, I noticed out of the corner of my eye one of the singers from Il Volo. I am a HUGE fan of their music and Giulio hates them so much. When I saw him sit down in the table in front of us I was in a state of shock. I told Giulio “Shut up and don’t turn around! The best member of Il Volo is literally sitting behind you!!” He didn’t care. I saw various girls come up and take pictures with him. I contemplated getting one as well, but Giulio said I shouldn’t bother him while he’s eating with his family. I protested saying “But, whyyyy?? Everyone else is getting a picture!!” He could not be convinced and got up to leave. I will forever regret not getting that damn picture. This is the closest I’ve ever been to someone famous. My night was definitely made.

21844206_10210224468583547_1505846052_o.jpg

 

Giulio was a little disappointed that seeing this singer at the restaurant took the spotlight away from our evening. I couldn’t help but feel bad for hyping it up so much. The entire evening was nice. Coming to Taormina was amazing and everything I thought it would be. But seeing Il Volo was just the icing on the already perfect cake. There was only one thing left to do and that was to buy one of those beautiful 3-legged heads that symbolize Sicily. They are mesmerizing and I’d wanted one since day one. While I couldn’t exactly get one of the big ones, I settled for one the size of my hand and I’m super happy with it.

Update:

I went back to Taormina for the morning with Giulio’s parents, as we had the weekend together. We arrived and walked through the stores, window shopping and talking. It was pretty hot during the afternoon and we were full of sweat so we decided to stop for a granita. Taormina is famous for their lemon granita, which resembles frozen lemonade, and I have to say it was the most refreshing thing I could have asked for in the heat.

After about a couple of hours of window shopping I finally got to see the Ancient Theatre!!! Just a heads up, if you’re between the ages 18-25 with a European I.D you can get in for 5 Euros. Otherwise, the standard price is 10 Euros to enter the theatre. Obviously if you buy a ticket to concert in the theatre you don’t have to pay, but, if you want to visit during tourist hours that’s the price. I got lucky that the girl charged me 5 Euro instead of 10, I don’t have a European ID yet though I am a resident of Spain for the year technically. I think she saw that I was speaking fluent Italian and let it slide.

IMG_2099

It was pretty impressive in size and absolutely amazing how they restored it for concert use. They even managed to save the original mosaic used for the floor of the theatre.

Here are some of the best shots I took in the theatre,enjoy!

img_1677.jpg

Giulios’ mother pointed out the seat where “my president” Donald Trump sat for the G7 summit. Cool. G7 was held here in Taormina earlier this year and you could still see signs of it while walking around.

Just outside of the theatre is a very fancy hotel where most of the musicians stay while in Taormina for their concert. I didn’t dare go inside but I did manage to get a shot just outside.

IMG_2124

 

I’m thrilled that I had the opportunity to visit Taormina one last time. I feel like I’ve seen most everything except Isola Bella to hit up the beach. Everyone suggested we go to this beach, but we’d arrived too late to do so the first time. There’s always next time! And who knows? Maybe next time I come back to Taormina it’ll be for a wedding. 😉

IMG_2103

2 comments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s