Wednesday 23 – Wednesday 30 September 2015

This morning we transfer over to the Ashby Hotel in Taormina – close to the town centre (up a small sharp hill – Taormina is up and down a lot of hills) – which is then fairly flat through the town centre.

There is a lovely view from the pool at the back of the hotel from which we can see the hotel we were in last night and also over to the mainland.  Once we are settled in we decamp to the pool area and a couple of sunbeds – hopefully we will be here getting browner for the next week.  And at one point during the week I can see a train on the railway.

We had a good couple of days by the pool and were certainly getting browner but on the Saturday afternoon the rain set in and it was then pretty wet all the way through then to our departure.  One day we chose not to even leave the hotel – it was the only way to stay dry.  The rain a few weeks earlier had knocked out the cable car service and so we were not even able to go down to the sea level and we needed to take care not to get soaked when going out to eat!

The hotel itself has a posh restaurant as well as a casual one but, perhaps like Greece, Sicily does not do “posh” that well – leave it to the French!  Out in the town we sampled a restaurant in the open air down one of the side streets – a great opener.  Elsewhere in the town we had memorable meals at Restaurant Cinque Archi – the meat here comes from a local co-operative which they work with and it was the best meat of the fortnight – and Granduca which has good seafood and wonderful views over the sea.  Also I must mention Tiramisu which served a good meal and we ended sharing the best tiramisu ever!  There was also a good bar in the town square for a drink in the open air to do some people watching – at least one session cut short by yet more rain!

One evening was a night when there was a concert at the amphitheatre – and the local population obviously dress up for their evenings out as DJs and dresses were the order of the evening – quite unlike most of the visiting population in shorts and so on.

One drawback we suffered (and this is unusual).  My wife is always well protected against insect bites and my protection is their inevitable preference for nibbling her.  On this part of the holiday we both suffered, so Taormina bugs must be attracted to different smells than much of the rest of the world.  Used up the various creams, new stocks needed for India.  We both had bites and were applying anti-histamine cream to each other in hard to reach spots!

We had planned to take the train around the foot of Etna – but decided against for two reasons – we had seen a lot of the scenery anyway and having looked at the connections for the train services I could see that missing a connection would give us an hour wait – and that would not be much fun on holiday.

Overall verdict on Sicily – lovely; food can be very good and there are some wonderful sights to see as well as a complex history.  Having seen the sights and sampled the food and wine we are not convinced there is any need to return – perhaps if we had got brown rather than rusty (well I managed to catch up on my reading as well) we might feel differently.  And if the mafia are still around we were provided with no evidence of them.