This post is part two in a series about Sicily. Part one can be found here.
I’m back with more things you can do in Sicily (or more specifically, Taormina and the surrounding area.)
Play tour guide to unsuspecting visitors
Be sure to pay close attention to information plaques as you never know when you might be approached by an American couple, leading to an impromptu talk on the history of the local area. My wife was able to regale a nice Californian couple about the origin of the ruins in Villa Comunale di Taormina (the public gardens), explaining how Lady Florence Trevelyan (a rather Cornish name) moved to Taormina and married the mayor, Salvatore Cacciola. Florence created the space that would later become the public gardens, and had a house and gardens built on Isola Bella, a small island just off the coast of Taormina. How would you know all that without the benefit of the mighty plaque? (Don’t say Wikipedia…)
Come perilously close to a volcano
What is Sicily without Etna? The magnificent volcano that dominates the skyline makes the soil incredibly fertile. The conditions are excellent for growing all manner of fruits, vegetables and nuts. We were only staying an hour or so away, so booked in for a tour up to 2000m.
Our guides were excellent and after picking us up at Hotel Ipanema, they brought us first for a quick caving expedition exploring a lava tube, then drove up to Rifugio Sapienza. From there we walked around a few Silvestri craters while Evie had a meltdown, not unlike an active volcano. The Silvestri craters were formed during the 1892 eruption, and named for the volcanologist who studied them, Orazio Silvestri.
The landscape is breathtaking. I knew so little about the area before visiting, and it’s infinitely more interesting than I expected. Our guide also explained about the order of plant life colonisation following an eruption, with lichen taking hold first before small shrubs, broom and eventually evergreen forest.
On the way back down, we had a chance to sample some local honey, olive oil and wine. Honey is surprisingly good value there compared to the UK, with a large jar costing around €6.50.
Visit a Greek, wait no, roman, hang on, old…yes, old theatre
The Ancient Theatre of Taormina was built originally by the Greeks in the 3rd century BC, and later rebuilt by the Romans, and remodelled into an arena. It’s location on the hillside offers breathtaking views down the coast, and would be a fantastic place to see Etna dominate the skyline, if not for the perpetual cloud surrounding it. Even on the clearest days of our holiday, the summit remained shrouded.
Find some interesting ceramics
Ceramics are a thriving industry in Sicily. The colourful pieces show Greek, Roman, and Arab influences. Ceramic gift shops are everywhere in Taormina, and ceramic pine cones can be seen adorning balconies, pillars, shop fronts and more. They hearken back to the Greek occupation of the island, symbolising fertility. Less subtle symbols can also be seen along the main streets.
Take a food tour
One of the highlights of the trip was our food tour around Taormina. We had three stops, incorporating seafood, land food (cold cuts and cheese) and pastries. Plenty of alcohol was available at each stop including prosecco, local white and red wines and liqueurs. The combination made for a very merry tour group, and a pleasant evening.
That’s just a taste of what Taormina, and Sicily, has to offer. It’s a great place to visit and doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive if you do your research. Although I would like to go further afield and explore more of the island, this was the perfect way to decompress after a stressful few months (and days).
The return of games
Welcome back, games. I’ve missed you. Although I haven’t been ignoring you completely, you’ve been a less than welcome pairing with study. That’s all about to change. Yes, I see you over there Breath of the Wild, and you too Elden Ring. Your time will come. My VanMoof S3 has also returned from the workshop with functional gears. Hallelujah!
Speaking of Elden Ring, I picked it up in Argos last night at RRP. It’s the first full price game I’ve bought in years. Maybe even close to a decade. I have died many times, and have little to no idea of what’s going on, but the world is fantastically interesting and I can see where the rest of the year will be spent.
More on Elden Ring next time…and Happy Eurovision 2022!