Taormina & Friends

Ciao a tutti,

Yet again, it’s been a few days since I’ve blogged. The days have been so busy, and I just haven’t been awake enough at night to write! The past six days have been filled with food, fun, friends, and getting lost. Grab yourself a glass of wine, and let’s dive into what Google Maps doesn’t tell you when you go to Taormina.

I was exhausted (in the best way) on Saturday morning because Friday was Elena’s birthday, and we stayed out until 2:00 a.m. on Friday celebrating with friends in Marina di Ragusa! We began the day by driving to Catania Fontanarossa Airport to renew the contract for the rental car. We had an idea that this would be a less than pleasant experience, but it was so much worse than we thought. The problem is not the customer service (necessarily), it is the complete and total disorganization. On the day that we arrived, we waited two hours to get our car. This made no sense because we reserved the car before coming to Sicily, but it’s their system that makes it so ridiculous. This time, we waited THREE AND A HALF HOURS to get the same exact car that we already had. I have now talked to other people who have rented through the Italian and Sicilian car companies and have had great experiences, so please…. for your sanity, for the love of God, do not rent through Avis or Budget unless you want a headache. It was so insane. After wasting all of this time, we then headed on to Taormina.

Let me start by saying that Taormina is an absolute dream. The views are incredible, and every little detail is picturesque. However, our frustration of being in the car continued because Google Maps got us insanely lost. Our first stop was the Greek-Roman Amphitheater, where the G7 Summit was held last year. To get here, you have to walk down a short street. Google Maps didn’t tell us this, and kept insisting that we drive down a street that you clearly cannot take your car into. Also, we didn’t know about the bus system to get into the center or Taormina. Parking wasn’t too much of a problem, but it would have been better to know. However, knowing the buses in Sicily, I’m not really sure that I would trust this system….

The amphitheater was absolutely stunning. It is such a magnificent structure in the most incredible location, and you can’t help but wonder about the incredible shows that must have taken place here. It’s beautiful with just the stone and bricks that are left, but I can’t imagine how epic it must have looked when it was covered in marble. Behind the amphitheater is a small gift shop and exhibition area, and the most incredible view is at the top of the stairs where you enter. This is where the picture of me is taken! I truly couldn’t believe how perfect the view was, and decided that this would be the absolute most dreamy and ideal place to be proposed to. Just incredible.

From here, we walked down Corso Umberto and did some shopping. Because Taormina is one of the most “touristy” spots in Sicily, you can truly find any souvenir that you are hoping for here. I’m not one to buy many souvenirs, but I bought myself a small bottle of creamy arancello. If I like you, maybe I’ll share a sip. Corso Umberto also has many upscale shops, so it is a great place to window shop!

As we were walking down this street, we saw signs for the public gardens and took a detour. The gardens were stunning, just like everything else. We also found the granita cafe that I wanted to stop at, so we kept it in mind! We continued on Corso Umberto to see Viccolo Stretto and Piazza Aprile XIV. The piazza has a beautiful view of the sea, and looks incredible at night because of the contrasting black and white marble floor. A funny note about Viccolo Stretto – everyone seems to make a big deal about it online, and even here in Sicily. It’s a typical Italian street that is EXTREMELY narrow, but that’s it. I wasn’t disappointed, but I didn’t quite understand all of the “hype”.

After our strolling, we had dinner at a cute trattoria. I had a lovely pasta dish with tomatoes and swordfish, and Grammy and Grampy had a swordfish and eggplant Parmesan. Ironically, the granita cafe, BamBar, was directly across from the trattoria! It is one of the most famous spots to get granita in Sicily, and is rated as one of the best. Even celebrities make a point to stop here! We stopped in after dinner, and I was not disappointed. Grammy had campari (and then opined about everything on this earth), Grampy had white chocolate granita with cream, and I had almond granita with cream. It was DELICIOUS! With our full bellies, we drove home.

Sunday was a super fun day with all of our friends at the beach! in the morning, Elena, Francesco, and Sofia surprised me with a bracelet that I have been wanting since last year as a graduation present. I was so surprised and touched that they remembered this! I love it so much.  For the rest of the day, it was our family friends birthday, so he rented chalets for all of us to relax and spend the day together. There were about 30 of us all together. We had a big lunch and cake together, and spent from 10:00 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. at the beach! I thought I would make it through the day without being dragged into the water, but I was wrong. Around 6:00, the guys dragged me in. I hate being cold, but I love to swim. Once I’m in the water and swimming, you can’t get me out! I’m so lucky to be surrounded by such fun, caring, and generous people here.

I’m going to make a point to do more informative blogs coming up about all kinds of topics with travel tips, life in Sicily, an teaching English abroad. Congratulations on making it to the end of this blog… go grab yourself another glass of wine!

Grazie mille,

Abby

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