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Trip Report First trip to Sicily May 2014

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Our first visit to Sicily!

After spending three nights in Rome, we flew to Catania, Sicily on Alitalia airlines.

When we checked in with United Airlines in the states, hubby's luggage was 66 pounds so we knew we had to lighten up before Our Alitalia flight or pay excessive baggage fees. We ended up buying an extra suitcase and filled it up with dirty clothes and other items and stored it in the hotel In rome as we were staying another night in Rome before we fly home after Sicily. So that took care of that problem. When we checked in at the Alitalia counter they informed us our seats we reserved on line were upgrades and we needed to pay an extra 10 euros to sit in those seats. So we paid. Alitalia weighted and measured our carry on luggage! We passed and boarded.

The flight from Rome was 55 minutes! I had a good view of Mt. Edna flying in. The Catania airport is small. They roll in stairs for you to deplane and then take a short bus to the airport. We arranged for a transfer to our Taormina hotel with Sicily Life. A driver was waiting for us as we exited baggage claim. Villa Ducale was our 3-night destination. This hotel is high above the town of Taormina. The streets are narrow and heavy with traffic. Lots of hairpin turns/ think of road to Hana / ha / It didn't bother me because I was in Sicily! Our driver was so careful. This took close to an hour maybe a little less.

Upon arrival we were greeted by a warm and friendly staff. They offered us a glass of wine and we told them we would be back in a few minutes after we unpacked.

We were escorted to our junior rooftop suite/room. OMG the view from this room is one I would expect on the amalfi coast except Mt Edna was right before our eyes and the beach Giardini Naxos below. Just breathtaking. After crazy Rome, my husband exclaimed, " Now this is a vacation." I smiled as I'm the one who found this hotel on TA and thanks to everyone's opinions, I was convinced this would be a winner. We had a small patio, a sunken tiled tub with pop out window above the tub. There was a shower with a small waterfall feature. I was in bathroom heaven as I don't have anything but a Kohler bath tub at home! Ha

So back to the lobby area where there is a small dining area overlooking the same view we had in our room. They welcomed us with a glass of wine and then we were given an overview of the accommodations and my husband mentioned that we needed to find lunch and they ran for a menu and prepared us lunch. What a warm welcome!

We unpacked and took the hotel shuttle down to the town. Hubby went to look for a grocery type store and got lost in the shops. The town is actually pretty spread out. I found a cute Italian doll shop named My Doll. They are soft cloth /rag dolls and sooo cute. They had gardening dolls,farm dolls, ballerina dolls, Alice in wonder dolls - so cute. (My Doll on Facebook)
I walked through about 30 percent of the shops but didn't buy anything ----yet. Ha
We caught the next shuttle back to the hotel. We made 8:00 dinner reservations at the hotel.

To be continued...

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    Cleaned up for dinner and walked down a flight of stairs to the hotels dining area overlooking Mt Edna. A few cute laced benches , blue tiles on the floor, umbrellas by the doors for their guests and the Sicilian pottery heads filled with flowers - what a cute hotel.

    For dinner I ordered swordfish and the most amazing, lemon, orange , cheese salad! Incredible! I was dining with Mt Edna! I was still so excited and she? He? was smoking! I was mesmerized by her presence! Aren't the people scared to live so close to an active volcano? Apparently not! There was a yacht in the harbor and a helicopter circling it. I wasn't sure what that was all about.

    We lingered over dinner and then back to our room. Next day a tour of the UNKNOWN SICILIAN VILLAGES AROUND ETNA (eno-gastonomic tour)
    I viewed this tour really an overview of the area and no substantial time spent in any one place.

    Day 2
    Breakfast at the hotel- a huge selection of fruit, apricots, cantaloupe, some type of a quiche, torts, cheeses - yum- more than I needed.

    Our driver picked us up at 9:00 and explained all the beaches along the way. We did spend an afternoon at a beach club. ( I'll talk about this on day 3) We stopped along the lower part of Edna but did not do any hiking. We stopped at a shop that sold olive oil, and honey. If it was suppose to be a honey bee farm, I only saw one hive.

    Next stop was a winery. We had a private tour of the Barone di villa grande winery and resort. Beautiful grounds and we tasted 7 wines with a light lunch. They served the best pistachio cookies. I wish I had the recipe. They were flat, crispy cookie. We did not order any wine but they do ship to the states. It was a resort and did look like a nice place to stay for a few days.

    So on to lunch and crossing the road in front of our car are sheep, sheepherders and their dogs following the herd. I asked the driver to stop! I jumped out of the car and recorded them across the street and into the forest. Sorry folks, but I just don't see this every day at home! Back in the car to find lunch! We stopped in Zafferana etnea, Ristorante Pizzeria Moulin Rouge. I wanted local cuisine, so the waiter recommended pasta with mushrooms.
    It was very good. Also, bruschetta which I seemed to be eating every day!

    Next stop was Castiglione di Sicilia- the driver pointed out a Norman castle (not much left of it) then we stopped at a 18c church San Antonio. Just beautiful.

    Also, The driver pointed out a WW II gun tower turret in a field.

    Our last stop was the alcantara gorge. It was formed by lava flows. This was only a short stop.

    Overall, a great day of exploring. We ate dinner at the hotel again. I ordered a mixed grill of prawns. Tuna, swordfish, grilled vegatables - way too much but soooo good!

    Day 3

    Today was beach day. 10 euros for transportation, and a beach chair with umbrella.

    The beach club was named La Caravella. The beach was mostly pebbles with a little sand. The water was cold! It was overcast but I didn't mind. It was a very relaxing afternoon.

    We returned to our hotel and I wanted to go shopping but hubby did not so I decided to walk down to the town of Taormina. I missed the hotel shuttle and hubby told me to call a cab but i thought I'd just walk. I walked down the street and found the stairs to the town. There were ALOT of stairs down to the town. Then when I got down to the last stair, I still wasn't in town and I didn't know whether to turn right or left. I was lost! Ha! I turned right and walked down this curvey road and finally stopped into a repair shop and asked a man where the town center was and he said I still had to find the path down below. I finally found my way down to the town center but I should have waited for the next hotel shuttle. I was a sweaty mess! LOL

    I picked up some gifts in two stores. One gave me the VAT form and one didn't and I forgot to ask. I bought a cameo type ring at stroscio gioielli and two necklaces at nomination italy. Yay- Christmas presents for my nieces.

    For the return trip back up the hill, I caught the hotel shuttle! No way would I take the stairs again!

    Day 4 - on to Agrigento to be continued!

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