Picture it…Sicily, 2017…

Ah, Sicily…you have such a reputation from The Godfather and other mob stories over the years.  Whether this reputation is deserved or not is unclear…but the Sicily we saw today was so beautiful, so perfect, so charming that we didn’t want to leave.  Any of you that are as old as we are may recognize the Golden Girls reference in the title of the post…Kenneth actually is the one that coined the title for us as we somehow had a conversation about it before we arrived.

A small aside here with a note for our fellow Americans…when you travel to a different country, they have their own language, their own money, their own foods, and their own cultural traditions.  Some of these may be very similar to ours, and some aren’t.  Please don’t complain that you can’t understand someone speaking in accented English to you.  Let’s hear you try to do it in Italian…$1M tells me you can’t!  And why should the menus be written in English?  And why should they accept US$ instead of Euros?  Would you take Euros if someone was trying to pay you inside the USA?  I doubt it.

Now that I’ve left my soapbox…

IMG_1474Our ship ported at the town of Messina, Sicily.  Messina is a larger, modern city as it was destroyed in a big earthquake in 1908 and rebuilt after.  All of the earlier architecture was destroyed and has been replaced by more modern buildings.  Thus, to get a taste of a real Sicilian medieval village, we traveled up the mountains to Taormina.

The narrow medieval streets of Taormina are just captivating.  From the largest town square, you have beautiful views of the Ionian Sea below and of Mt. Etna above.  Taormina’s streets are lined with small boutiques, some independently owned, others very high end international fashion brands.  We did a little bit of shopping…Belinda has now purchased clothing in every country we’ve visited on this trip, and Kenneth bought a Pinocchio marionette (I’m sure there will be many puppet shows in our future).

We sat down and at lunch at a pizzeria that has been in business in Taormina since 1952.  Our tour guide mentioned that the local speciality was pistachio pizza, so of course we had to try it.  We capped off our meal with a nice Sicilian Chardonnay.  Also, they brought complementary limoncello to the table after the meal (dangerous to take more than a couple of sips), and some locally grown white peaches for the kids that were some of the sweetest fruits we’ve ever tasted.

After lunch, we met our tour group at one of the local cafes for a granita.  We had our choice of lemon, strawberry or almond flavor, served with brioche bread to dip in the granita.  The kids both ordered lemon and we both ordered almond…the kids ended up liking the almond more than they liked the lemon that they both ordered.

Once we had finished our granita tasting, we headed back to the bus to drive down to the coast for a boat cruise of Naxos bay to see the Blue Grotto and Isola Bella.  We were expecting this boat to be a larger catamaran type boat…alas, it was not.  It was a small Italian motor boat, similar to the taxis in Venice.   And, again, the water was very rough today for such a small boat.  I think about half of our tour was feeling quite seasick by the end of it (including Kenneth).  We did get the opportunity to jump off the boat to have a nice swim in the Ionian Sea.  Even Belinda bravely went off the back of the boat and into very deep water.  But, oh, it was crystal clear water…and it was the most beautiful color.

While I think we were all happy for the little boat cruise to have ended, but we were sad for our day in Sicily to come to an end.  For sure, we will be back here for a vacation again someday.  Our cute little tour guide (a pretty young girl studying architecture) said that Taormina was magical, and after spending our day there, I think we all believe her.

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