After breakfast on this beautiful warm November day we hike up to the picturesque hilltop town of Castelmola (530m). The hike involves many, many stairs. (We are starting to notice a pattern: almost everywhere we want to go in southern Italy involves stairs.)
In the center of this very small town is a castle or rather the remnants of a castle. Not much left of the structure but the views of the sea, the snow-covered mount Etna, and the terraced hillsides make the hike worthwhile. And everywhere bougainvillea and lantana are in bloom. Lots of cactus, too.
Castelmola is a more substantial town than expected. The town's sights include a church that is part cave and a bar with a phallic theme. In a small shop we buy a couple of colorful ceramics to hang on our walls. The ceramics are non-phallic I might add.
Next we hike back down to Taormina to check out Teatro Greco, Taorimina's famous Greek/Roman amphitheater. It is carved into a hillside and features great views. Of course most places in Taormina have great views.
From the Teatro Greco we hike down to the beach at Mazzaro and then walk the rocky beach to Isola Bella, a small island just offshore. The Mediterranean water is crystal clear and a number of people are swimming. We didn't expect such nice conditions in November so did not pack swim suits.
Our hike is still not over. We climb the stairs back up to Taormina, walk through a beautiful public garden brimming with flowers, then snack on pizza and arancini at Da Cristina, a hole-in-the-wall pizza shop that usually features a line of customers. We ate there yesterday and found it good and cheap. Today i noticed, posted on their wall, a page from the NY Times of 4/28/2013 recommending Da Cristina.
Finally, we stop in a small store to purchase a couple of pieces of art that we'd admired the day before. Now we just have to figure how to fit our purchases into our bags.
Taormina has been a pleasure. Lots to see in such a small place, great views from almost every corner, pretty architecture, and plenty of restaurants and hotels .
One pattern we are picking up on in this trip is a lack of cuisine diversity. Not that we don't love Italian food but if you want something else the pickings are slim.
Tomorrow we head south to Siracusa.
The first picture is of Teatro Greco, the second is of Mount Etna as seen from Castelmola.