Azamara Quest tendered off the coast of Giardini Naxos ahead of the scheduled arrival time and we watched the preparation of the tender platform and tender boats from our room until it was time to leave. The day was shaping up quite nicely with the temperature already in the low 20s under a pleasant sunny sky.
Our plan for the day was to do a self-guided tour of the nearby town of Taormina. To get there we had booked an excursion that was basically just bus travel from the port to Taormina and back. After a short tender ride to the port we boarded the bus that would take us to Taormina and shortly after that we were on our way. It was a pleasant trip with some nice views of the coastline here and there as we travelled.
Wild poppies at Teatro anticio di Taormina
Once we had arrived at Taormina we decided to make our way directly to the ancient amphitheatre there first and then do some strolling and sightseeing through the town, so we made a quick walking trip through the town to get to our destination.
The Teatro anticio di Taormina (Ancient theatre of Taormina) is a Greek theatre that dates back to the third century BC. What stands today, though, is more likely all of Roman rebuilding over the original Greek theatre. That rebuilding and expansion in around the 2nd century maintained the Greek theatre rather than changing the style to that of Roman theatres of that era. With a diameter of 120 metres it is the second largest of ancient theatres on the Island of Sicily. A far bit of the theatre remains to this day and is an impressive sight with an impressive backdrop of the eastern Sicilian coastline. Many of the original benches were missing, but it was easy to imagine the theatre full of people enjoying a performance in this magical setting. We did notice that there were many wild poppies growing in the shaded of the remaining benches. We should have been able to see Mount Etna from this vantage point, but low cloud cover around the active volcano obscured its summit for this day. We could get a sense of the impressive scale of the volcano from the size of its base and by visualizing where the slopes would meet at the top. We explored and enjoyed the theatre for much longer than we had anticipated - it was very interesting. And the views from the theatre were stunning. Well worth the €6 entrance fee.
We strolled back through the quaint town back towards the main square of Piazza IX Aprile. We had buzzed past it earlier in the day but were now ready to check out the square line with cafés, churches and plenty of people. Plus a spectacular view of the coastline. It was the place to be in Taormina. We didn’t look up the significance of the square name until after we had left Taormina, but it intrigued us that the it was named for April 9, 1860 in honour of the day that a mass in the Taormina Cathedral was interrupted by the announcement that Giuseppe Garibaldi had landed at Marsala on the other side of Sicily to begin his conquest of Sicily to make it part of Italy. What is particularly interesting is that the announcement was prophetic in nature because Garibaldi didn’t leave Genoa on the mainland until May 5 to arrive in Marsala on May 11. Once source we read said that the Taorminese are proud that they called the event ahead of time, so they have embraced the town square with the date of their prophetic declaration.
Spritzes in Taormina
We were thinking that we should get something to eat at this point so we selected Wunderbar Café primarily because of the view it would provide as we ate. It looked like we had timed our arrival perfectly because we were fortunate to be seated at one of the best tables on the main patio area on the edge overlooking the impressive coastline. The view was incredible and the food was good, but the service was terrible. The main patio area was large with most tables getting a good coastal view and there was a separate smaller patio area on the other side other side of the café entrance. The whole space was served by just three waiters and it was quite busy. The servers appeared not to be happy with each other, so that didn't help matters much. All in all it was not the place to go if you were in a hurry, that is for sure. We had plenty of time, so in hindsight it wasn’t really a problem, but the slow service was frustrating at the time.
We still had time to stroll through the pretty town. One thing we did notice the lack of shops that would interest us, so shopping was not a part of this day’s touring. The town still had lots to offer on a strolling tour. We did enjoy the day in Taormina a lot.
WHITEonline is the digital home of Gary & Linda White. We’ve been married since 1980 and live just outside Toronto in Ontario, Canada. Linda was born and raised in Toronto while Gary was born in London, England and moved to Canada at the age of 11. We enjoy travelling and taking photos while we travel. WHITEonline provides the opportunity to share some of our photos & experiences.