Those who know me also know that when I have a chance, I walk. I can walk easily 10km during a normal weekday, just between the meetings etc… and, when you live in the city centre, it’s usually also the fastest way to get you from place A to B.
When I was doing the “research” before my trip what to see in Taormina area, it was obvious that Isola Bella and Castelmola were on my list. And that I would take myself to both of these places by foot, instead of all the possible transportation systems they had invented to make your sightseeing easier. Like a cable car from the hillside Taormina to Isola Bella, or a shuttle bus service to get yourself on the top of the world to Castelmola. Oh well, that’s so nice of you guys… but I think I walk :)
And may I say those were quite a hikes. Isola Bella is actually very easy to reach compared to Castelmola, which is much higher on the hilltop – so you can take Isola Bella as a warm up. The island is a nature resort and you need to pay an entrance fee to get there, but it’s not more than just a few euro, and totally worth it. And, in my opinion, there is nothing wrong in asking an entrance fee for a place like this, so that also the future generations are able to enjoy the amazing nature of the island.
Isola Bella is full of beauty, and since the weather was a bit chilly on the day of my visit, I was there almost alone. Keep in mind that Isola Bella really is an island so you need to cross the water in order to get there, but most of the days you can easily walk there from the beach without even getting your knees wet. Also the beach by the island is amazingly beautiful and there are many restaurants where you can enjoy the fresh seafood, pizza, and gelato. The best restaurant on the beach, in my opinion, is the Pizzichella where I had my lunch couple of times during my stay. It’s a bit further away on the beach but you can’t miss it if you just search color yellow! They have amazingly fresh seafood dishes (and also other stuff if you, for some odd reason, don’t enjoy seafood) with very decent prices, and the service is very friendly. And the view… the view… Mamma mia <3
And then, the real challenge on the next day – Castelmola. I actually didn’t even plan on going there first, I was just supposed to take a walk to Madonna della Rocca but, again, those who know me can only imagine what happened when I reached Rocca and saw Castelmola glittering way above me… I just had to get there. Of course. And my how glad I now am that I did!
But first I had to get myself to Madonna della Rocca, a church built partly inside Monte Tauro in 1640. The track to Rocca leaves from Via Leonardo da Vinci in Taormina, and before taking the tour make sure you have enough water and some snacks with you. If the day is warm (or HOT) it can be quite a challenge so be well prepared. Also, check the opening times of the church before you go here, cause though already the view itself is amazing, you surely want to see the church also from inside and get to its the “backyard”, too. Depending the season the church open for couple of hours before/around noon, and then again after the siesta, or if it’s the “winter” season, only before the noon
When I reached Rocca I was first overwhelmed by the amazing view which I could have just stared for the rest of my life… and when I entered the church itself, the amount of tranquility that surrounded me… it was just amazing. I sat there on a bench quite a while, and I was just able to feel the peacefulness around me – it felt like there was magic everywhere. I think I actually cried, it was so surreal and beautiful moment.
After that strange, calming experience at Rocca, I was ready to get myself to Castelmola. This village is something out of this world, and the only thing that was on my mind while climbing (yes, at some point I felt that I was really CLIMBING) was: how on earth they have built this village here in the first place? I was almost certain that I would reach the sky if the place wouldn’t show up in front of me soon… but finally, I was on the top of the hill. And, once again, the view… the view was even better than what it was from Rocca, and you should definitely get yourself to the highest peak of the village where the ruins of the old fortress are (there are signs how to find the entrance so you can’t miss it). And the village itself… I doubt if I’ve ever seen streets that narrow than I saw in Castelmola, and how beautiful it all looked… the main piazza where the dome is, is full of pretty restaurants so you can and should have a good break there before heading back to Taormina again – and to just enjoy life for a moment! Yes, maybe some of the restaurants are quite tourist traps but you still get good food from there and something cold to drink. And after all that climbing, I can tell you NOTHING tastes better than a nice pizza margherita and a glass of prosecco on a sunny balcony of this quirky restaurant called bar Turrisi, at the same time when you enjoy the buzz beneath you at the main piazza.
After surviving Madonna della Rocca and Castelmola, there were still couple of must see -places on my list that I had planned to check out. The other was the ancient theatre, which you can find very close by to the centre, and the other was beautiful park Villa Comunale. Villa Comunale, or public garden, was originally built for Lady Florence, the English noble and spouse of professor Salvatore Cacciola, and there are still some of those buildings left from Lady Florence’s time. Oh well – I can only imagine her taking a walk on a sunny day in the park, with all the servants walking after her, serving some cold drinks and snacks… hmm…. I think I could live with that, too ;)
And, of course, when you talk about Taormina, you should not forget one of the main attractions… the volcano Etna. Etna is watching over Taormina and since being very active, showing sometimes even some smoke signals… But this time I didn’t manage to get there, the days passed by so fast and all the sudden was time to leave Taormina and head to Cefalù. When I told my friends that I’d go to Taormina, some of them were amazed when I also told that I’d be there 4 whole days… they felt it was “too long time in a such a small village”. But, to be honest, I did’t have time to do even half of those things that I had planned I would do! In addition to Etna, also the close by city Catania, for example, would have been nice to see, but also Catania now needs to wait till I get back to Sicily. So nope, 4 days is definitely NOT enough if you really want to explore the area and get to know it well, and not be in a hurry all the time (and that’s most certainly something that I DON’T want from my holiday – running around like crazy all the time – I do that enough already at home, hah!). So, I definitely need to get back to Taormina some day soon…
And then, after Taormina, it was time hop on the train again and head to Cefalù – more about that very soon!
Elämää Italiassa ja italialaisessa Suomessa: ruokaa, juomaa, ostoksia ja maisemareittien koluamista patikoiden.