Our Trip To Taormina, Sicily
Taormina is the playground of the Italian wealthy. An ancient town carved
from the side of a mountain. Views that are breathtaking looking down to
the sea or up into the mountains it’s all very pleasing. At any given time of
the year the town is full of tourists.
The weather in the winter is moderate,
typical of the southern Mediterranean with temperatures in the range of
10C to 18C and even warmer when the sun decides to come out from hiding.
From our home base in Reggio Calabria it is easy to get to Taormina, a
short ferry ride to Messina one of the major port of Sicily and then bus to
Taormina. The people only ferry, a hovercraft run by Ustica lines, departs
directly from Reggio and arrives at the port of Messina about 20 minutes
later. The price for the boat ride, one way, $3.50 euro each person. The
bus terminal is a short walk from the port, Piazza Republica, just to the left
of the port when looking towards the city. The bus route takes you through
the city of Messina and along the scenic coastal road stopping in numerous
towns along the way. For about $4.80 euros, a one hour and forty minute
drive, this is the way to travel.
Last time we visited Taormina we had gotten
off of our cruise ship and hired a private car for one hundred euros.
We arrived at the bus terminal in Taormina and hired a taxi to take us to
our hotel, we were aware that the hotel was about 30 minute walk from the
bus terminal. Without knowing exactly where the hotel was and not
wanting to waste time, I thought a taxi would be best. I did get a firm price
though before we began, 10 euros. I knew that our return to the terminal
would be on foot so I figured I was saving money, somewhat twisted logic
but I was tired and hungry.
Our hotel for our four night stay, the Hotel Continental was a very good 3
star hotel, it was actually one of the only large hotels I could get as this was
Valentines Weekend and I believe lots of folks were making a romantic
weekend of it.
Once checked in and freshened up we ventured out to find
our evening reservation such that we could be relaxed when the time came
to actually depart for the Hotel Excelsior Palace. I had timed our trip to
Taormina to coincide with a jazz concert and valentines dinner. I had made
the reservations a week ahead of time which is a good thing as it was sold
out and only side view seating was available. No problem as long as I can
hear the music I am good to go.
As Google Maps indicated the Excelsior Palace was indeed 4 minutes away
by foot. Of course I went the wrong way on our reconnoitring visit but got
sorted out after not finding it at first try, however we did find a great pizza
place. We had lunch of pizza and beer and ventured of in the opposite
direction, sure enough a few steps away from our hotel we found the biggest
hotel in Taormina the 5 star Excelsior Palace.
At the appointed hour we ventured off to the Valentines Dinner at
Excelsior Palace. Valentine’s Jazz Night with Giovanni Mazzarino & Daniela
Spalletta Quartet. Giovanni Mazzarino, piano – Daniela Spalleta, Voce –
Alberto Fidone, Bass – Giuseppe Tringali, Drums.
The show got under way first some instrumental compositions from the trio
to warm the room up and then the vocalist Daniela Spalletta joined the
group. The singer reminded me of Norma Winstone a great English jazz
singer who accompanies Kenny Wheeler on many dates. I found Daniela’s
phrasing and cadence similar, perhaps an influence of hers. The group
would run through some original tunes, some Latin jazz and some
standards. A wonderful concert led by pianist and composer Giovanni
Mazzarino, an adept pianist with a refined touch.
After the concert we were guided to another large ballroom where dinner
was served. A candlelight feast with a four course dinner, white and red
wine, a great ambiance, music in the background, the band enjoying dinner
next to our table.
What a great start to our Taormina adventure.