If you're looking for a movie star destination in Sicily you can't do much better than our destination today; Taormina! This location has everything; a magnificent seaside, then stunning panoramic views of the western Sicilian coastline and capped off with one of the oldest castles in the country; Castelmola.
We are privileged to get driven to this location by Concetto, Johanna's cousin, who also doubles as a great tour guide. The car trip there is the standard Italian style car ride; 130km/hr on the autostrada, no seat belts (because they don't work), one finger on the steering wheel while taking mobile calls and changing the iPod music. It's a good thing he doesn't smoke! While driving he makes fun of the conservative Australian style of driving i.e. keep to the speed limit, safe distance between cars and both hands on the steering wheel and then launches back into the Italian style again. Lucy and Ruby are in hysterical laughter while I sit in the back seat with them waiting to apply the brace position! Despite travelling at 130km/hr we are passed by cars travelling much faster. To our left is an imposing view of Mt Etna. As we travel we notice the occasional puff of smoke from its crater. It looks ominous in the distance and as you can imagine Lucy asks a million questions, some of which nobody knows the answer to.
Our first stop is Isola Bella located at the foot of the ascent to Taormina. This is a beautiful location. It is hot here today and things only get hotter as we make our way up and down the long flight of stairs to the seaside. You'll find no one piece swimsuits here! This is bikini territory so if you aren't comfortable with your body you're best to stay at home near the air conditioner! The water here is calm and crystal clear. If only we could stay longer!
Destination Taormina. One of the oldest city's in the world that has its heritage in the Norman period as has a lot of this coastline. The castles and architecture are a dead give away that there was Norman influence here. This town is also the location of the Taormina Film Festival which is similar to the more famous Cannes Festival in France. Parking here is forbidden unless you are a resident. You are expected to park at the bottom of the mountain at Giardini train station and then take the funivia ( cable car ) up to the town. Concetto, however, is happier parking and taking the risk. Gotta love these Italians! Taormina is old and beautiful but apart from that the town is adorned with ceramic sculptures. This is a popular place and there are many tourists here from all over the world. I'd hate to see what it is like here in August!
Final stop Castelmola. This time we make our way up to the top of the mountain. The view here is just indescribable. The views are breathtaking. To our disappointment Castelmola is closed for renovations so we do the next best thing which is...have a Gelato! We sit to eat our gelato and chat about the days events. As we sit we enjoy the peacefulness of this historic spot while looking out at the vastness of this island and the deep blue of the Mediterranean Sea.