A May 2000 trip
to Taormina by Barb B
Quote: We arrived in this charming and popular holiday resort town perched high on a cliff overlooking the Bay of Naxos on Easter Sunday. With runaway bougainvillea, citris trees and silvery olive branches and terraces of red geraniums, it is easy to see why this is Sicily's most desirable destination.
We sampled typical Sicilian cusine in a restaurant directly on top of the 1992 lava flow from Mt. Etna.
We stopped in a small bar to enjoy a glass of wine. The music of Bocelli filled the air as we watched an Italian "Nona" show off her new grandchild to the passing neighbors.
Our guided tour offered insight into daily life in Sicily. The history, events, puppet shows, colorful carts and churches of the area all came to life in this popular tourist town.
We found the people here very pleasant. If you even TRY to speak a little Italian, they will help you with directions.
Restaurant | "La Contoniera Restaurant"
We enjoyed a delicious lunch of typically Sicilian dishes. The amply stocked buffet table provided antipasti of shrimp, cheeses, olives, proccutto, and melon. Shellfish rissotto with roast peppers and tomato puree accompanied the main course. I chose a local specialty of twice-roasted swordfish and my husband a plate of fresh mussels in a savory marinade. The dessert specialty was a cassatine siciliana.
Strolling folk musicians added to the casual and fun atmosphere. The attentive service staff truly made this a very pleasant dining experience.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 27, 2000
Mount Etna Lava Flows
Our waitress, Anna, explained that since she is young and has no children, she was working today so the other waitress (her sister Maria) could be at home with her husband and children. We (my husband and I) enjoyed our pizza and local wine while watching the parade of passers-by.
Italian pizza is totally unlike American pizza. The Italian variety has a much thinner crust, less sauce and clever, innovative toppings. Our pizza that day was topped with artichoke hearts, anchovies, peppers, procutto and mushrooms.
Sfuso is local wine which has never been bottled--it is usually served in pitchers and comes from the restaurant's own barrel. My husband drank the red variety and I sipped the white -- delicious!
The magnificent tenor voice of Andrea Bocelli singing Time to Say Goodbye, filled the air as a beautifully dressed and coiffured 'Nona' approached the restaurant proudly pushing a baby stroller.
It is the custom in Sicily for the 'Nona' (Grandma) to take her newborn grandchild 'out for the neighbors to view.' The Nona entered the restaurant and was quickly welcomed with a double-bacchi (kisses on both cheeks) from Anna. She was seated at a table where all passers-by could see her and her precious new addition. Soon the local neighbors filed into the restaurant to admire the new grandchild. Exclamations of Che bello bambino! (What a handsome baby boy!) Lui e` molto grande! (He is so big!) resounded as the proud Grandma smiled and graciously received the compliments.
As we left, my husband and I also stopped by to tell her what a lovely grandchild she had--She was pleased!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 28, 2000
Via Apollo Arcegeta 6
Attraction | "Walk on the Corso Umberto"
We took a cab from our hotel to the Piazza Vittoria Emanuele and I was truly amazed at the number of tourists! I had assumed that Taormina would be a quiet, laid back town with few tourists---NOT !!
In ancient times a circuit of walls with a triple fortification system protected Taormina, looking towards Messina and continuing in a northeast direction; ending in the west looking towards Catania. Traces of these walls can still be seen today not only in the center of the city, but also at the furthest ends of the city where there are two entrances, called Porta Messina and Porta Catania.
Our guide, Maria-Luisa, met us at the Porto Catania. She guided us through the Piazza Vittoria Emanuele, led us on a walk through the inner courtyard of the medieval Corvaja Palace where we were introduced to the richly painted original "Sicilian Caretta" carriages. She discussed the puppet shows given periodically and provided historic insight into the history of Taormina, but we wanted more! We wanted time to REALLY see the people of this lovely town.
So, we decided to "Cut School"! We found out where the tour would end, and we set out on our own to see the REAL PEOPLE of Taormina--No tours, No glitz, Just the REAL people and feel of the City. We would meet up with our tour group again, later in the day--but for now we were on our own!
We loved the tour, but getting to see the REAL CITY and visit with the REAL People was the height of the trip.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 1, 2000
For an authentic taste Sicilian foods, try these specialties--
*Stockfish alla Ghiotta *Swordfish or Meal Involtini *Caassata Siciliana *Pasta with Mussels
Favorite beverages include--
*Corvo *Regaleali *Rapitala
Sicily’s close physical proximity to North Africa is reflected in the cuisine, architecture and culture and reveals definite Arab influences. Over the centuries, Sicily has become a racial melting pot and remnants of Norman, Islamic, Greek, Spanish and German cultures have all left their mark and been distilled into the unique Sicilian cuisine.
Fragrant aromas of aniseed, cloves, mint and cinnamon float across Sicilian tables. This is the area where wheat was first cultivated and made into flour, and where it was first mixed into the dough from which macaroni was made. It was also here that the seeds of orange and lemon trees, pistachio nuts were first planted and the marvelous Pastry making, known throughout the Mediterranean was created.
Dishes like couscous--tiny balls of semolina steamed with oil and then added to a rockfish broth--arrived from the Arab world. This is the birthplace of pasta with sardines, perhaps the most famous all Sicilian dishes. Recipes such as caponata from Spain and stoccafisso (salt cod) from Norway were collected and passed proudly down from generation to generation.
Today cooking in Sicily is a combination of the eating traditions of the rich and the poor and the changing seasons also influence the cuisine. Gastronomic traditions are still proudly carried out today. On Christmas Eve, women still make caponata (so-called because it was traditionally served with capon). On Sundays pastas are still made and shaped by hand and at Vintage time, red peppers are still roasted and eaten as a traditional part of the meal.
The return of the Paranze, (fishing boats) is celebrated with the wonderful taste of freshly caught sardines cooked on a spit. Sicilians continue to eat cannoli made with flaky pastry at Carnival time and meat pies at Easter. The saying "be frugal with salt, because it hardens the brain" is still used by Sicilians, thank heavens, the aromas of garlic, bay leaves, aniseed, mint, cinnamon and cloves continue to dominate Sicilian cooking.
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