Sometimes I feel like a kid. A prime example of this is how excited I got thinking about taking a ferry. But first we made our way from the dreamlike landscape of Matera towards our next destination in Taormina, Sicily. For those who don’t know, Sicily is the largest region in Italy and also boasts the distinction of being the largest island in the Mediterranean. Taormina was our first of three stops in Sicily. Taormina is on the east coast of Sicily and has cliffs overlooking the Ionian Sea. As someone who had never taken a ferry with a car before, I found myself being giddy as we approached the port in Messina to make the 20 minute trip from the mainland of Italy to Sicily.
View of the port in Messina
Beautiful view from the ferry
We arrived at our B&B after dark and dropped our bags in our room before heading off in search of food and drinks. In our research for our trip, we found Bar Turrisi in a little town above ours called Castelmola. This bar has been handed down from generation to generation and the unique theme began when one of the owners (who had 3 sons within a 5 year span) decided to create a theme for the bar based on the penis, vulgarly referred to in Sicilian as “La Minchia”. While many people think of this as something vulgar, the Greek culture which influenced Sicily instead views this as a symbol of fertility. Although the kitchen was not open when we arrived, we found the hosts to be very warm and inviting and they quickly prepared us a mini feast of olives, spinach, bruschetta, cheeses and meat. They also gave us a sampling of the almond wine the Turrisi family prides themselves on. It was delicious! But as to the decor of the bar….it was special. Sure, it’s kitschy but you can’t fault them for having a great theme to draw travelers in to see. I was certainly amused by it.
menu at Bar Turrisi in Castelmola
very illuminating lamp for sure….
Even the bathroom mirror is themed (notice the instructional wallpaper in the background…I took some notes for future reference…LOL)
Floor tiles….they really embrace the theme everywhere in the bar.
Really, need I say more about this place??? In all seriousness, the people there were so nice and I would recommend it if you are ever in Taormina. It was a precarious drive up the mountain to Castelmola, but it was definitely worth it!
After we got our eyeful at Bar Turrisi, we made our way to check out Bar Vitelli, which owes its claim to fame to a scene in The Godfather. After the drive to Savoca, we realized that they were not open (bad internet research!) but we found a nice little restaurant on the way back to our B&B to have dinner.
We woke up to a bright sunny morning in Taormina and were rewarded with an amazing view!
View from our balcony in Taormina
View from our balcony in Taormina
We drove a couple of kilometers from our B&B to the Greek Theatre of Taormina. According to research, the construction of the amphitheater started by the Greeks around the third century, BC. To allow the construction was necessary to manually remove over 100,000 cubic meters of rock from the mountain. In Roman times, the theatre was expanded, making it the 2nd largest theatre in Sicily. We parked our car and made a short albeit it steep walk to the old section of town where the theatre is found. The walk is enjoyable as you find many stores and cafes along the way to distract you from the climb. We paid our 10 euro entrance fee and walked around, taking in all of the sights. The theatre really is spectacular. And the views of the sea and Mt Etna are truly enviable.
walking into the entrance
View of town from the back side of the theatre
View of Mt Etna in the distance
Head of female statue – 1st Century, BC
So far, Sicily is a wonderful and mesmerizing place. I will say the drivers in Sicily are even more daring that those on the Italian mainland, which for anyone who has had the experience of driving in Italy knows is not for the faint-hearted. Off to bed to prepare for our next town. Until next time…..