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Acireale, Taormina and back to Milan...

Continued from: Milazzo and Lipari...

Acireale, Taormina, and back to Milan…

Once in Milazzo, I retrieved my luggage from Petit Hotel, thanked Maria, and took the bus to the train station where I waited for the train to Acireale (with a change in Messina)

I arrived to Acireale at around 14:40. Deborah, the B&B owner, had kindly arranged a private transfer, Rosario, to pick me up at the station since she couldn’t be there herself.

When we arrived to San Sebastiano Holiday B&B, Rosario carried my suitcase up to the second floor (3rd floor for us) and Deborah came to the door and welcomed me. I offered to pay Rosario but he refused. Deborah also tried to pay him but he declined. Such a kind and generous man.

Deborah is not only the owner of this charming B&B but she’s also a new mom to adorable twin boys who were a couple of months old at the time. She was very busy and tired due to lack of sleep. She told me that if it weren’t for her helpful friend, Carmen, she could not keep up with the B&B. And I don’t blame her. I don’t know how she manages because I can’t even imagine running a B&B!

My room was spacious, comfortable and clean. The small balcony overlooked the courtyard so it was quiet day and night.
The breakfasts were delicious and hearty. The first morning I enjoyed a refreshing almond/coffee granita! I’d read that granitas are commonly served at breakfast time but this was the only place that had offered one to me.

After resting a bit. I walked to the market and got some sweet ‘Picadilli’ tomatoes and some fresh fruit.
I then visited the beautiful church of San Sebastiano and the Duomo, both of which boast the beautiful baroque style.

My first day in this serene city ended by visiting the recommended Rococò Gelateria.

Day 2 (Tuesday) After my hearty breakfast. I washed a couple of my tops and hung them outside on the clothesline over the balcony. It was a warm day so my clothes dried quickly.
I then walked to Piazza del Duomo and down Via Romeo toward Santa Maria la Scala
There’s a bridge that goes over the highway, then there’s an ancient stone trail (Via Tocco) that winds down toward the beach.
The village was very quiet and peaceful and I seemed to be the only non- local there, except for a few folk who were sunning on the rocks. There’s no real beach there, only many large rocks.
I was mesmerized by the sunlight reflecting on the crystalline water. After sitting on a rock for a short while, I walked toward the small church and noticed a group of children practicing a folk dance under the guidance of their teacher. They were all wearing colorful costumes. The boys wore black pants, vest and a long hat that hung from their heads and swung around with every move they made.
The girls wore long colorful skits, white blouses and black corset type vests. They all danced to the tune of a repeating happy melody.
Since it was a hot sunny day, some of the boys were taking off their hats and tossing them on to a wooden bench nearby.
I watched the group dance while standing under the shade of a small tree on the piazza.

After a while I walked down to the port where some fishermen were busy fixing their small wooden boats.
I got myself an almond granita at a small bar, then visited the church.

In front of the church I noticed a bus schedule and I was happy to find out that the local bus runs back up to the city because I didn't feel like walking up the trail.

So... I decided I had enough time to eat lunch first.
The restaurant that had been recommended on my Lonely Planet Book was closed, so I found a small trattoria just across from the church.
I ordered fresh grilled fish and a tomato salad. The fish were kept in a refrigerator in the restaurant and I had to choose the one I desired. The cost was €40/Kg. I choose 2 small fish that weighed 300 gr.

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The bus was supposed to arrive at 13:30 and I’d sat down and ordered my food at around 12:40, and I thought I had plenty of time to enjoy my lunch.
As it turns out, it took a very long time to get my fish. My food didn’t arrive till 13:15 after I’d told the young waitress that I’d be taking the 13:30 bus.
My fish was tasty but I had to eat it very fast.

There was an Italian couple who sat down at the table behind me and I overheard them asking the waitress about the bus schedule. I’d taken a photo of the schedule so I shared it with them.
I paid my bill and walked across the street to wait for the bus and the couple followed suit. The bus was nowhere in sight at the scheduled time, so we waited, and waited... Then the young man from the bar where I’d purchased the granita earlier that day, drove by and offered to drive the three of us back up to the city center. He drove us to Piazza del Duomo and we were so grateful.

I noticed that they were setting up some tents and tables near Piazza del Duomo.
When I arrived to my B&B, I asked Deborah and she told me that they were setting up for the Granita Festival that would be held that weekend. It’s too bad I would miss it…

Day3) Day trip to Taormina…

On my last day in Sicily, I decided to visit Taormina.
After breakfast, Carmen, Deborah’s friend, drove me to the bus stop at Piazza Indirizzo since the bus was not traveling to Piazza del Duomo due to closure of streets as the city was getting ready for their Annual Granita Festival.

When I arrived to the bus stop, there were two Italian women waiting and I greeted them. We were waiting for the same bus. I found out that Gloria and Marizela had been friends for many decades and now that both their husbands had passed away they traveled together. Gloria lives in Chicago and she was visiting her friend Marizela who lives near Lucca. When the bus arrived, I helped them load up their luggage into the hold and then boarded the bus.
The bus ride to Taormina was 75 minutes long as the bus makes several stops along the way, including the train terminal at Naxos-Taormina.
As the bus rode up the hill to Taormina, we were treated with amazing views of the Sicilian Coastline (sit on the right side of the bus going up & on the left side going down).
When we arrived to Taormina’s Bus Terminal, Gloria & Marizela didn’t know how to get to their hotel. I helped them with one of their roller bags as Gloria called the hotel to find out if they could pick them up. We walked to the gas station nearby and we bid each other farewell once Gloria had confirmed that someone from the hotel was going to picked them up.

The Greek Theater, one of the main highlights of this amazing city is very impressive and it’s still used to this day.
There are more breathtaking views of the Sicilian Coastline from just above the theater.
After visiting the theater, I walked along Corsi Umberto, the main street, which is lined with shops and restaurants. It was very crowded and I couldn't imagine how crowded it must get in the Summer! I walked to Piazza Duomo and visited the cathedral that was beautifully decorated with beautiful coral colored roses and white ribbons for a wedding.

I then decided to walk back toward the bus terminal and take the funicular (€3 each way) down to Naxos and walk to Isola Bella, the tiny island connected by a strip of rocky sand.
To get to Isola Bella you turn right, once you get off the cable car, and follow the road until you see a sign to Isola Bella on the left side of the street. You need to go down a long stone staircase that is lined with street vendors selling sunglasses, beach towels, and rubber water shoes.

Continued...

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Most of the beach is lined with privately owned beach chairs and umbrellas. I took off my sandals and walked on the shore toward Isola Bella. The water was crystal clear and refreshing but when I noticed the small whitish jellyfish swimming toward me I got out of water. I found a small bench in the only shade I could find and enjoyed people watching as I ate my picnic lunch that I’d brought with me. It was a nice sunny day to be at the beach but the water was still a bit cold so hardly anyone was in the water.

I didn’t want to miss the last bus back to Acireale that departed at 15:30 so this was a short day trip.
I know I could have taken the train back but the truth is that I was ready to leave the crowds and go back to serene Acireale.

The bus terminal is a large parking lot and you have to pay attention to the buses as most are just parked while the drivers are taking their break. Then just a couple of minutes before departure, they turn on the sign on the front window which tells you the bus’ destination. You can purchase tickets from the driver.
The bus ride back to Acireale was very quiet.

At around 7:00that evening I’d decided to try the restaurant that Deborah had recommenced but then changed my mind when I realized that the restaurant was located in a dark empty street.
I walked back to the Decò Supermarket and got some prosciutto cotto, & some olives, then stopped at a pizzeria and ordered a small focaccia with olive oil and herbs. I enjoyed a picnic dinner in my room then packed my bags and went to bed.

The following morning, I thanked Deborah and Carmen.
Upon my request Deborah had arranged for Rosario to take me to the airport.
Rosario is a quiet Sicilian man and a very cautious driver. On our way to the airport we had a close call as a careless driver cut in front of his taxi and he slammed on his brakes to avoid what could have been a bad accident. We both took a deep breath and I thanked him for being such a diligent taxi driver.

I flew back to Milan on Easyjet then returned to Hotel Garda for my last 2 nights before returning home.

The following morning, my last day in Italy, I was so fortunate to have booked a ticket to Leonardo da Vinci’s famous masterpiece, ‘The Last Supper’
The ticket included a guided tour in Italian and I was able to understand most of the commentary. The Last Supper is truly magnificent!
If you want to see the Last Supper, make sure you book your tickets 3 months in advance.

After visiting the Last Supper, I visited the Cimitero Monumentale (Monumental Cemetery)
This is an amazingly beautiful cemetery unlike any other I’ve ever visited. It is an immense outdoor museum full of impressive sculptures and monuments. A very special and unique experience that makes you ponder about life and the inevitable “part of life…”

“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.” ― Flavia Weedn

Thanks Dear Zoe, I will never forget you…

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1101 posts

Oh my, Priscilla, I am in tears reading your beautiful descriptions, and of how so many people and places brought your dear friend Zoe back into your memory and heart. You remind me that I may depart home with a list of places and sights to see, but that true travel opens us to events and relationships that deepen us in unpredictable ways. I will re-read your trip report later, taking careful notes, in preparation for my own (independently planned, yet to-be-shared-with-my-sister) trip to Sicily very soon. Thank you again for your gift of this magnificent trip report.

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369 posts

Many thanks for your detailed trip report on Sicily. I avidly read these types of reports and especially love names of hotels, b & b’s and restaurants. There was a ton of work that you put into this, it showed and it is greatly appreciated!

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2913 posts

It sounds like you had another beautiful trip! Although you change locations a little more than I do, the way you travel and meet people is very similar to mine, although I'm lacking in Spanish and Italian skills so Sicily might not be quite the same although I try to work with every language. Great trip report. I'm moving Sicily further up my travel list.

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211 posts

Thank you for sharing such wonderful details of your trip, as Zoe also did. My plan is for a Sicily trip next year so I will go through your posts carefully and add to the notes I already have. So glad you had such a wonderful visit.

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2018 posts

Oh, Priscilla....this is just one of the best trip reports I have read. I traveled to each stop and enjoyed each bite of fabulous Sicilian food right along with you. And was teary reading your moving tributes to Zoe. She is very much missed but you have paid her tribute traveling the "Zoe Way". I loved Sicilia so much and I can't wait to return one day. Ortigia is one of my favorite places in Europe; we stayed in the same hotel you did and you have described it (and the staff) perfectly. I am absolutely not surprised that you made many, many friends during your travels. Thank you so much for this descriptive and very enjoyable trip report and I, too, love that (yes, like Zoe) you included all those little details that teach and help us all travel more successfully.

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3351 posts

Priscilla, it was a wonderful start to my day to read your detailed, heartfelt report. It brought back fond memories of the areas you described. Ortigia was extra special because we stayed at the same B & B as your beloved Zoe. Thanks so much for keeping the memories alive. We want to revisit and also discover areas we missed the first time. You made my day! Grazie.

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4690 posts

Kristen, Jmauldinuu, Luv2travel, Wray, Debbie, Andi, and Janis,

I'm truly touched, and appreciate all your positive feedback, THANK YOU!

Wray, Don't let the language barrier stop you from traveling to Sicily!

Before my first solo trip to Italy (2017), I studied Italian by listening to the Pimsleur Language Program that I borrowed from my local library.

Jmauldinuu,

You remind me that I may depart home with a list of places and sights to see, but that true travel opens us to events and relationships that deepen us in unpredictable ways.

So true... Thanks to Zoe for paving the way... and now we can follow in her footsteps.

I wish you, and your sister, a wonderful trip!

And like Zoe used to say:

"Go and make your own memories! And you will make lots of them!!"

Ahhhh...Andi!

She is very much missed but you have paid her tribute traveling the "Zoe Way".

Thank you!

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4462 posts

Priscilla, now I understand why this trip report was so difficult for you to write - so very personal & heartfelt! You have honored Zoe very much during this journey, my friend. How sweet to stop by the places she stayed, even the ones you were not able to book, to give them the news.

I am always so pleased to read your summaries because you connect so well with everyone during your time at each location! I truly think you epitomize the warm connections that so many of us just dream. (I’m busy working on my French language for September, even if I will be hopelessly inept-ha!)

I’m going to print your report for that “some day” when I start planning a trip to Sicily.

Thank you so much for sharing, and also your PM, so I didn’t miss reading your post!

Jean

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4690 posts

Jean,
Thanks for your kindness and encouragement!
Bon voyage mon ami!

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1817 posts

Wow, thank you.
You have captured the essence of the Sicilian people so well, and inspired me to take a trip to Sicily without relying on having a car!!

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S J

Thanks for your kind comments.

I do hope you enjoy your trip to beautiful Sicily!