Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Snowy Taormina and spectacular Castelmola: the best views in Sicily!

Mount Etna provides a stunning backdrop to the Greek Theatre (Teatro Greco) in Taormina, Sicily.

I'm a sucker for coastal views. Whether it's the breathtaking sight of the Mediterranean from the medieval village of Ravello on the Amalfi Coast or the rugged stretch of California coastline between San Simeon and Carmel, I can happily sit for hours watching the point where the horizon meets the sea.

Snow! And the Sicilian coastline as seen from Taormina. 

With perfect panoramas of both Mount Etna and the Ionian Sea, it's easy to understand why Taormina has long been Sicily's most famous resort town. Sure, it's touristy and crowded (even in January), but the views are breathtakingly beautiful.

A snowman in a rare performance at the Greek Theatre
(Teatro Greco) in Taormina, Sicily 

From the moment we arrived, Taormina put on a spectacular show. The town's first snowfall in more than 20 years was her opening act. Fluffy white snowflakes drifted slowly to the ground while we wandered the medieval streets looking for a place to eat dinner. By the time we had finished our spaghetti alla Norma, the only pasta dish to be named after an opera, and grilled seafood, the potted orange trees in the garden were covered with a fluffy layer of snow.

Mount Etna provides a stunning backdrop to the Greek Theatre (Teatro Greco) in Taormina, Sicily.

Hoping that the snow would last through the night, St├ęphane and I were up early the next morning. Our destination? Taormina's premiere attraction, the ancient Greek amphitheatre built in the 3rd century BC. Suspended 200 meters (656 ft) above sea level, the horseshoe shaped theatre is the most dramatically situated Greek theatre in the world. With Mount Etna taking center stage, the theatre is still used for international music festivals, operas, contemporary concerts and film festivals.

Taormina has attracted a long line of authors, famous personalities, royals and adventurous travelers. During the two years that he lived there, English novelist D.H. Lawrence was inspired to write Lady Chatterly's Lover, one of the most erotic and passionate love stories of the 1920s.

Some skepticism about the menu at Turrisi, the "penis bar"

With its explicit descriptions of sexual intercourse, D.H. Lawrence's novel provides the perfect segue to another famous spot near Taormina, the "penis bar" in Castelmola. Not quite sure what to expect when we pushed open the door with its phallic handle, we were surprised to see that Turrisi is a bar like any other. That is if you're used to penis shaped menus, erotic memorabilia and phallic shaped furniture. Run by the third generation of the same family that opened the bar in 1947, Turrisi started as a post World War II souvenir shop where customers were served local almond wine. Now, it's a regional legend listed as a "must-see" in all the guidebooks. Even if you're not tempted by the idea of the penis bar, the 360-degree views from Castelmola are some of the most spectacular in the world. And, no, that isn't an overstatement. I promise!

The view of Naxos Bay and Bella Isola from the apartment we rented in Taormina. New Year's Eve 2014.

2 comments:

  1. That last photo is quite stunning! We, of course, avoided Sicily in February after seeing your snowy photos on Facebook and then got snow in Granada! I'm looking forward to going to Sicily, especially after your photos.

    ReplyDelete