Night location: Taormina
After an epic transit day involving a drive from Newcastle to Sydney, two planes, a wheel chair, two buggy rides around Doha airport and a transfer bus, David, Gareth and Amber found Gemma in Rome before boarding their final leg to Catania. Mum and Dad had arrived in Sicily a few hours before us and went on a short visit to Syracuse in our new people mover, Fiorelli the 9 seater Fiat! Dad was very animated when explaining the features of this new vehicle which include: a scratch or dent on every panel (Dad advised the Hertz man that he should mark where it was not scratched on the final inspection), a tyre pressure warning that is always on, a flashing clock that reads 12th January 2007 (something to mess with the jet lag), a red triangle warning light and a random Italian message 'attenzione' that beeps approximately every 30 minutes!
Dad took to driving like an Italian, at one point throwing his hands in the air and gesturing wildly while saying "What are you doing?" The drive up to the town of Taormina is quite spectacular with a narrow winding road that caused Gemma, the navigator, to push both hands on the glove box and shout, "Stop, stop, stop," as we were confronted by two giant coaches that honked, and then without hesitating, missed Fiorelli by a coat of paint. Mum's nerves were shot as it was coming straight through her window and sadly they did not improve as upon entering into the 1.9m clearance car park, we found ourselves climbing up a spiral ramp that Dad said was better suited to a petite Fiat 500 rather than our extra grande Fiorelli! We crawled in first gear up to the 5th floor and Dad reversed into a park like a pro. Due to the limited clearance, Amber had to hold the boot down while Gemma unloaded the bags so as to avoid it resting on the ceiling.
Taormina is everything we remembered including the fantastic Taodomus Hotel with its spectacular rooftop terrace and incredible breakfast spread. As forecast we woke to the sound of rain and so our view at breakfast had an ethereal quality with low lying clouds hugging the coastline and the cliffs above. Unimpeded, we set out with umbrellas to explore the jostling Corso Umberto.
Due to Amber's broken toe, she and David chose not to join the others as they made their way up to the Ancient Greek Theatre when the rain cleared. The theatre is perched on the edge of the ridge with sheer drops on three sides to the sea and the town. Had it been a clearer day it would have been possible to see Mount Etna framed by the columns of the theatre's stage backdrop. Mum performed the soliloquy from King Lear on the stage and admired herself in a not so ancient dressing room mirror.
After a lunch of giant arancini Gareth guided Mum, Dad and Gemma to the Communale di Gardini that has a terrace looking over the coastline and trees planted in memory of lost soldiers in the Great Wars. After a precipitous climb back up to the Corso and a cannoli stop, Mum lead the way to the gelato shop opposite our hotel. Gareth then went on a run up the mountain to the Salita Castello that has magical views over the town and out to sea.
Tonight we are dressing up and returning to our favourite restaurant in Taormina that has a terrace overlooking the Duomo Piazza. Hopefully it doesn't storm!