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Kelsie35

Taormina Must-See’s

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My mom and I are going on our first trip to Europe this October on a 12-night cruise! We’re two fit, adventurous Americans who love walking, window shopping, and taking pictures of quaint and quirky side streets and alleyways. We perfer smaller, local, village-style experiences to touristy or big-city-style jaunts, though we enjoy both.

 

Our ship docks near Taormina, and purchased the transfer to and from the city so we could explore on our own for a while. Have any must-see’s for us? We’d like to avoid public transport while we’re there.

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Messina / Sicily, Italy (Taormina)

 

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The highlight in Messina is the bell tower of the Cathedral of Messina "which contains the biggest and most complex mechanical and astronomical clock in the world. Designed by the firm Ungerer of Strasbourg it was inaugurated in 1933 and is the city’s main attraction even today. At noon a complex system of counterweights, leverages and gears, determines the movement of the gilded bronze statues located in the facade. The mechanism moves every day at 12.00am and lasts twelve minutes."

 

Prior to the show at the Bell Tower, we wandered around town for about 90 minutes and climbed up to the Santuario della Madonna di Montalto church that offers 180-degree views of the immediate area down to the port.

 

Other than that, the recommendation is to travel to the nearby town of Taormina. "The climate is a dream, its position, perfect panoramas, monuments and luxurious flora and fauna render Taormina a location admired by all who visit it. The city lies on a terrace, with a view of the ancient Greco-Roman theater against a backdrop of citrus groves with Mount Etna engulfed in the glory of the Ionian Sea beyond."

 

 

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So we arranged in advance with TourShuttle.com for roundtrip transportation for 8 to Taormina at a cost of €31,50 per person. The driver was waiting on us when the Cathedral of Messina tower completed its multiple level show. Travel time is about 49 minutes each way which conservatively gave us about 4 hours to enjoy Taormina before returning to the ship. That was the plan anyway.

 

Unfortunately, the A/C in our van quit almost immediately and the engine totally quit while on the highway. Our driver pulled over onto the shoulder where we were safe and immediately called for a rescue. No worries. Within 30 minutes we had a new taxi with cold A/C pick us up and take us to Taormina, leaving our original driver awaiting assistance. For us, this minor setback was not a problem. We only needed about 2.5 hours to fully explore the town and the Greek Amphitheater (€10 per person), see the beautiful views, and enjoy a fresh cannoli. We returned a little early in the same taxi that rescued us, and we paid him in full.

 

 

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I highly recommend watching the show at the bell tower and then heading over to visit Taormina. That's a good and inexpensive plan for the day. Kudos to our original driver for his skillful handling of a bad situation. However, since I received no response from TourShuttle.com when I informed them of our transportation problems, I cannot recommend them, and suggest you book transportation with someone else.

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It sounds like you may be docking at Giardini Naxos and not Messina (like the previous poster)?

 

Taormina is a lovely town, easily walkable from one end to the other. The main site is the Greek/Roman Theatre at one end of the town. There are some other Roman ruins scattered here and there in the town, but most of it dates from later times and does include lots of quaint streets with shops and restaurants galore. It is a bit touristy, but still very enjoyable.

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We are docking in Messina—not sure I can fit in the clock tower, but it sure sounds neat!

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Try Tripadvisor for restaurant reviews.

 

 

 

Can usually link to the restaurants themselves and browse menus, otherwise simply decide on the day as you walk around. Most should have menus and prices displayed where you can easily see them.

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The main streets in Taormina are Corso Umberto and Via Teatro Greco. After you walk up and down those streets and visit the Greek Theater, don't miss going into some of the side streets. Also, right at the corner of Corso U. and Via Teatro Greco, visit the tourist office. It is an old Palazzo and well worth going in for a look. Also, if you continue on Corso U just past the Tourist office, you will come to Gelatomania, probably the best in Taormina. For restaurants, the best thing is to look in the side streets, walk past the restaurants, check the menus and the ambiance and pick one. Don't fail to have arancini as an appetizer.

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The English Gardens (built by Lady Trevelyan in the 1880's) are worth a visit in Taormina - most people miss them in order to visit the remains.They are dotted with follies and interesting plants, trees and buildings. They make a lovely quiet retreat from the busy streets and are situated on the left down a side street. Really recommend- even better they are free to see and stroll around. There are magnificent views of the sea too.

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