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Sue Selects Sicily!

Author: Sue F.
Date of Trip: November 2006

My travels took me to Taormina, Sicily in November 2006, a place I had wanted to visit for many years, and finally had the chance! My heritage is Italian, my grandparents coming from Calabria, Italy across the sea from Sicily, and Naples, Italy…and I have visited areas of Italy of renown. This trip was wonderful, and the weather cooperated perfectly.

The tour I booked left Boston the first week of November, and we landed in Milan, then on to Catania, Sicily…to Taormina, a beautiful Pearl of Sicily nestled in the crevices of the cliffs with a spectacular view of the Ionian Sea at your feet. Ah, bella Taormina!

When you travel these days, concerns are heavy with thoughts of security, baggage safety, on-time flights and connecting flights, and a clean hotel! I am happy to say this trip was flawless! The flight in Boston was on time, we landed in Milan and connected easily to prepare for flying in to Catania. No luggage woes, and no pesty pickpockets throughout the tour.

The Hotel Villa Diodora is a lovely hotel nestled high in the cliffs, and fortunate for me, I had a balcony room. The nicest part of the hotel, aside from the spectacular view of the sea, was the nearness of the town…I could walk to the Internet Cafe on my way to shop in the village. It was wonderful also to stay in one hotel for the 9-day tour, and have a tour bus awaiting after breakfast each day to take the group to interesting places.

Traveling in November can be quizzical with regard to clothing to pack, but the tour director said to “layer clothes” and you will be fine. That was the trick, the “layering” was great, because we were coolish in the early morning when we set out to tour around the hills of Sicily, then by noon, we shed our top layer, and down to short sleeved jerseys and shirts. As a matter of fact, two of the days were lovely enough to enjoy by the hotel pool perched on the Ionian…and when I landed it was in the high 80’s for temperatures, so I did just that…I took to the pool and the view of the sea! The day before we left Taormina I did the same thing, spent my day lavishing by the pool and enjoying the Ionian and sights and sounds of beauty.

Our tour was self-contained so all meals were included at the hotel, which were very adequate. We enjoyed lovely breakfasts and dinners, and drinks…alcoholic beverages were on you!

We toured downtown Taormina and the Greek Theater with its age-old columns and ruins. We trekked to Mt. Etna and saw the volcano up close and personal! Its crater was most amazing, and my first chance to be on a volcano! Wow! We also did a wine tasting at a winery, tripped to the village of Tindari and the Cathedral of The Black Madonna where the Pope said Mass, and toured the village of Messina where we got to the square and saw the Duomo at the piazza cathedral where miniature figures with music paraded around the cathedral belltower and ended with a solemn Schubert’s “Ave Maria” choir, with not a dry eye in the square. It was a high note of the tours. It was also a high note to view the ferry taking people to mainland Italy, and the village of Reggio, Calabria where my grandpa’s village is, and where his home is still standing. Seeing Siracusa and being able to get to the market and see how the Sicilians live and work was most amazing. I wish we had time to dally at the pushcarts, but we were to tour the Greek ruins in Siracusa and there was no time to shop at this point. But I wish I could have, for I saw some absolutely lovely things in the carts.

The wonders of travel prevailed on this tour of Taormina, and I would return to this lovely place. The tour director was efficient, offered to take the group to Catania to the Flea Market on the town bus, but that was the day I stayed back and enjoyed the sun and sounds of the sea at our hotel pool. Wish they had this day earlier!

Go to see Sicily…it is beautiful. We were lucky that the weather was ideal, with only an evening shower of rain when all of us were at the hotel. Every day was an adventure, and Sioilians showed us the village where “The Godfather” had been filmed, and we enjoyed the music of the soundtrack on our bus daily as we toured the hills and bridges of this fabulous place called…Sicilia.

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