Thursday, May 24, 2012

Taormina, Sicily... History and The Etna Pasticceria

With views of the Ionian Sea, a heritage rich in Greek, Byzantinian, and Roman history, medieval quarters as well as fashionably modern shopping and restaurants, Taromina holds a popular position in Sicily's tourism.  Perched on the side of Mt. Tauro, this quaint hillside village offers stunning views of Mt. Etna and the beautiful Sicilian coastline.

Taormina's Pedestrian Corso Umberto
As my husband and I put together a last minute vacation on the Seabourn Legend last fall, Taormina was somewhat of an unknown stop for us on the cruise itinerary.  However, only a few hours after walking through the town entrance we knew our time in Taormina held magic.

Wandering along the pedestrian Corso Umberto, shop after shop caught my eye with a number of delicatessen type shops featuring local wines and gourmet food items.  Mixed amongst the fashion stores highlighting Italian and French designers, little cafés with inviting outdoor ceramic inlaid tables beckoned invitingly.

If only I had a larger suitcase...
With a tip to stop at the Etna Pasticceria tucked in my pocket, I gazed at the content locals as well as tourist enjoying a morning espresso with what had been described as "the best cannoli ever".  Noting the location, we saved our treat for later in the afternoon, and continued down the way.

Towards the end of town and past the tourist vendors, we arrived at our intended destination,  The Teatro Greco.  The second largest theatre in Sicily is estimated to have been constructed somewhere around third century B. C. by the Greeks with the Romans enlarging the theatre years later.

Said to have once held some 5,400 spectators, performers from local drama groups to Gladiators to current pop legends (Paul Simon and Elton John are recent performers) have graced the stage.  Though some controversy exists as to the exact time and the actual origin (Greek or Roman) of construction, what remains today is a beautiful theatre with stunning views and a wide history.  Entrance fee of 8€.

Even our thundering and rainy day couldn't diminish the beauty of the Teatro Greco

Wending our way back up the Corso Umberto, I couldn't help myself but to stop at a few shops as well as the Corvaja Palace.  Built in the 10th century by the Arabs who ruled Taormina at the time, the Palace boasts a Romeo & Juliet-like balcony that I couldn't resist climbing for a photo.

The Arabian Corvaja Palace
Back on the street we passed the beautiful Chiesa Santa Caterina, a church dating back to the 1600's, as well as numerous shops also requiring quick stops simply to know what was inside.  Souvenirs included a bottle of Acqua di Taormina, a perfume that to this day brings me back to the quaint Sicilian hillside town and one that is also frequently "borrowed" by my teenage daughter.

The Etna Pasticceria... a must stop in Taormina
Finally seated at one of the colorful tiled tables at the esteemed and highly recommended Etna Pasticceria (Corso Umberto 112), my much anticipated cannoli and cappuccino finally made their appearance.  My husband, somewhat skeptical with his first ever cannoli said, "You can have mine.", at which point I insisted he at least try.  I'll secretly admit to hoping he didn't like the crunchy, creamy confection, but alas... within seconds I knew if I wanted a second helping I was going to have to buy another.

Taormina, with its lovely Corso Umberto, beautiful Sicilian coastal vistas, historical ruins and the world's best cannoli, did indeed give us a magical day and will be forever in my heart.


  1. You were so close .... Taormina is about 15 km from our hometown !

  2. Hi Kim-wouldn't you know? I am about to reply back to you and I see Taormina! Now my heart just stopped suddenly! It is an hour distance from the province of Agrigento, where my ex-husband is from, and we were there a few years ago!

    Taormina is such a beautiful historical place, as so Agrigento, and all of Sicily!

    Thank you for your kind comforting words re: my precious Prince. It really is so, so, hard to say Good Bye, but I do realize he is in a better place now. I also checked about my following, and made sure that I'm following your blog. (it's been a while, and I didn't see myself on the following photos, so I made sure...maybe its a duplicate, by I don't think so.)

  3. A fantastic post which taught me a lot my friend - thank you!

    Choc Chip Uru

  4. Sigh. What a gorgeous place! And how cool that you got to break in your now cannoli loving husband in Sicily! Doesn't get any cooler than that :)


  5. This sounds like it was a serendipitous stop on your cruise. I love it when a scent has the power to bring you right back to a wonderful moment. Love your photos of what looks like an excellent coffee and of course that cannoli!

  6. What a lovely trip you had, Kim! I know you love re-visiitng it through your pictures, and so do we! Thanks for sharing!

  7. I coming over here and taking notes for when I'm ready to plan a trip. Hopefully in two years. I'll take all your husbands canolis, lol. Those look like the good ones with citron too. I think I may not want to come back if I'm there too long.

  8. Sicily is an island rich in history and beauty. The desserts are incredible. I loved reading about Taormina. I visited it a few times going to Sicily with my dad. Love your photos, Kim.xx

  9. What a trip ... cannoli and cappuccino looks amazing!

  10. I stayed in Taormina for a few days almost 7 years ago and loved it! Your post and pictures have me wanting to return. Loved this post, Kim!

  11. Yours is the first Food Porn Daily pic I've actually clicked on in weeks! Fab picture and I LOVE TAORMINA!! Haven't been there in ages, but is the most beautiful place I've ever been! Wonderful post, thank you!!


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