For me it was one of the most exciting
towns I visited, if only for the location and view. But once I started
walking around, I realized that there is much to draw a visitor here
including, food, theatre, ancient architecture, history and a proximity to
View from the Hotel
I first arrived in the region on the
coast of the Ionian in the ancient Greek port of Giardini Naxos. I was
scouting the area for a tour I’d been thinking of. The Hellenia Yachting
Hotel made my stay peaceful especially with a terrace looking out to sea. It
was a place to just relax, with its restaurants and crafts shops along the
beach. But when I looked at the panorama, my eye hit on a village that
looked like it was perched on a mountaintop. Off I went and when I got to
the top I knew I found the city that would attract anybody. The trip to the
top was by cable car and what I found was a bustling city with some of the
most incredible views. Below was Giardini Naxos and the coast. Here I could
see Mount Etna always smoking and very much alive. I wandered to the edge of
the city where I found the 5,400 seat Greco-Roman Theatre. Much of it had
crumbled over the years but the spectator area and stage were rebuilt and I
was in a 3rd century creation and the second largest Theatre of its kind in
all of Sicily. It was here that modern theatre groups still performed
Aeschylis, Sophocles, Euripedes and the comedies of Aristophanes.
Here I saw Taormina stone in 50 x
120-meter slabs and I stood in an excavation that took 100,000 cubic meters
of removed stone to create.
In the main square almost under the
clock tower I munched on Canoli and bargained with street painters. I walked
around the public gardens that seemed to hang from the hill and I visited
some of the 18th and 19th century mansions.
I glimpsed at the aristocratic Villa
Ducal Taormina at 60, Leonardo da Vinci with the idea of staying there one
day. I also visited Hotel Villa Carlotta on via Pirandello, 81. Both would
be good choices.
Then, at the far end of town I found the
Hotel Excelsior Palace and wandered around its terraced lawns to the very
edge of the mountain where people lolled around the manicured grounds and
lovely swimming pool. Below was the Bay of Naxos where I was staying and all
around were almond trees, oranges, and prickly pears. The property was
superbly designed and was bordered by Greco-Roman walls.
I sat in a café and struck up a
conversation with a man from the tourist office. He told me that the sea was
an important part of this towering city. Here, the locals would snorkel,
scuba dive and go surfing. Sicily was apparently a fisherman’s Mecca with
giant Tuna, sardines and swordfish serving the needs of the community. It
was also a lemon growing area but you can add olives, peaches, oranges,
mangoes, eggplants and almonds.
We chatted about food and the local
favorites like Arancini, a Sicilian rice dish with parmesan, nutmeg,
parsley, meat stock, onions, flour, eggs wine, grated bread and of course,
When he talked dried bread with
tomatoes, eggplant, butter, parsley, thyme, and eggs, seasoned cheese, fresh
cream and Salt, I was hooked. “Even these Pistachio nuts we are eating, come
from the region”, he added.
He agreed that the best time to go was
in April or May, before it was too hot.
One might become interested in the
history going back to 400 BC but I preferred to just sip my wine, eat the
local delicacies, visit the Theatre, the squares and beautiful staircased
View from the top
Taormina is a haven for those of
you not in a hurry and if you need some exercise, there’s a
beautiful 18-hole golf course only minutes away.
I knew I would return one day
and I did.
Excelsior Palace Hotel 8, Via
Museums & Street Art
You can Contact Professor Arnie Greenberg at:
Over the past few years, Professor
Greenberg has traveled with groups to France, Italy, Spain, Greece,
Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg, Prague and both Sorrento and the Bay of
Naples plus most of Sicily. His tours traveled to the far reaches of the
globe including Italy and most of
China (Beijing -Hong Kong) and to Russia where his group cruised the waters
from St.Petersburg to Moscow.
"He took a group to Greece and another to northern
Russia. In Nov 07 he took a tour group to much of India and ended his tour
groups by revisiting France. He now travels with his wife and friends. They
winter in Argentina or San Miguel Mexico. His newly found spare time
is taken up with his painting and writing. "I must write every day." His
current work is a cautionary manual for would-be tour leaders.. "So
You Want To Be A Tour Leader."
Arnie now travels with friends. He continues writing
Travel articles about unusual places but often concentrates on novel
writing. Two books based on French Art will be published this year.
Keep reading his web for travel ideas. His next
novel HELLSTORM'S Folly,
will be available this fall. He now
lives in British Columbia.
www.top-travel-ideas.com or contact him directly at
(More about the writer.)