When I first visited Sicilia in November 2011, I wasn’t able to see Taormina or Cefalù. I missed Taormina because I could no longer walk (I had hip-replacement surgery three months later), and I missed the Duomo in Cefalù because of traffic jams in Palermo and the slowest possible service at the restaurant in which we had lunch. At the end of October we visited both of these lovely towns with our daughter and a friend of hers, and I’m so glad that I got another chance to see them!
Perched on a cliff above the Ionian Sea and overlooking Mount Etna, medieval Taormina boasts a killer view and is the most popular resort town in Sicilia. Our daughter deemed it the cleanest town she’d ever seen. Taormina’s most popular site is the Teatro Greco, which was built by the Greeks in the 3rd century BC and rebuilt by the Romans in the 2nd century AD. The theater is still used for the performing arts, and the views of Mt. Etna, the sea, and Taormina below are spectacular! We stayed in the Hotel Villa Carlotta, which was wonderful, and the morning breakfasts there were some of the best I’ve eaten. We enjoyed sitting on a terrace on Taormina’s main square, drinking rosé wine, eating snacks, and watching the sun set over Mount Etna. We ate great food, especially at Trattoria da Nino, and we had good weather. We had a great time!
The next day we drove to Cefalù, another popular resort town. Located on the north coast of Sicilia, beautiful Cefalù has a glorious beach and a Norman cathedral that dwarfs everything in the town except La Rocca, a rocky crag towering over Cefalù. Unlike Taormina, Cefalù is a working fishing village and doesn’t depend only upon tourists for its livelihood. Our guidebook in November 2011 said that the apse of the Duomo in Cefalù, which was begun in 1131 AD, contained some of the most brilliant Byzantine-Norman mosaics in the world. The apse is truly beautiful, but if you are pressed for time in Sicilia, I liked the mosaics in the Duomo in Monreale (just outside Palermo) or in the Cappella Palatina (Palatine Chapel) in the Norman Palace in Palermo more than I did those in Cefalù. While our daughter and her friend climbed La Rocca, Michael and I strolled through the town. We ended our visit at a pizzeria on the beach and then headed to the Palermo airport for our flight home.
P.S., This post is for Kate McKenna, with whom I toured Sicily in 2011. I’m ready to return to Sicily any time, Kate!