Our last day in Sicily was a perfect day for an adventure up the coast and up into the mountains to visit two famous towns: Savoca and Taormina. The road to Savoca was very winding and full of "thrilling" moments!
Like when you are passed with a curve ahead, going up a steep hill, in a manual shift car...
with a huge bus that takes up more than one lane coming at full speed around the curve! That's just one example of the crazy driving in Sicily!
It was a little stressful, but we made it up to Savoca and it was worth it!
Savoca is famous for the having scenes filmed here for The Godfather movie (part 1). We couldn't imagine how they got film trucks and all the equipment they needed up there.
The most famous spot is the Bar Vitelli where Michael Corleone meets his future father in law Vitelli.
Inside are photos paying tribute to Don Corleone and the movie.
They serve cannoli, of course! Remember, "Take the gun, leave the cannoli."
Dave had to try it!
And I had my granite and brioche!
From there we set out to explore the town. We could have taken donkeys but decided to walk instead.
The town is so pretty built into the hillside.
This is the famous church where Michael Corleone and Apollonia were married in the movie.
Such a pretty view! Too bad it's marred by people who etch into the cactus!
We saw this flower all over Sicily...
We visited the crypt at the monastery with the mummies from the 1700's. They were standing until two years ago, but now they are laying down. (I noticed the no photos sign after I took this one photo.) Creepy!
We made one last stop for a snack at the Bar...
and had a little visit from one of the many cats that you see everywhere.
In the afternoon we headed back down the hill to visit the coastal city of Taormina. I daresay that many people hadn't heard of this place until the G7 leaders of the world met there just a couple days before we arrived, creating headlines around the world.
Another winding voyage...
and a beautiful drive along the coast...
The hardest part, in my opinion, of visiting villages in any foreign country is knowing where to park. You can't drive in the historic centers of most towns, and it's nice to park as close as you can, so it is a challenge. Our B&B owner had told us the name of the parking ramp to use for Taormina, which we found with our GPS, but then we actually had a hard time just figuring out how to walk out the ramp into the town. It's crazy! (Signs would be very helpful!)
We finally made it to the gates of Taormina and were ready to wander and explore.
Lots and lots of tourist shops line the streets... (Just imagine trying to navigate world leaders with all their security details through these streets.)
Inside the church (and everywhere on buildings, on trucks, on signs) we saw this saint. I'm not sure who he is but we called him Father Sean, thinking he looks a lot like Sean Connery! :) It got to be funny because we saw him so much.
The Sicilian pottery is famous here - the heads to use as planters especially.
The views up and down every alleyway are just beautiful.
Since your balcony is basically your yard and your garden, you see them loaded with plants and the head vases with "hair" growing from them.
I love the little orange trees that line this railing...
There are spectacular views...
We visited the Greek theater from the 3rd century BC. It is still used for concerts and plays.
When you look to the south, you can see Mount Etna...
And to the north and to the right you can see the mainland "toe of the boot" of Italy in the distance...
We decided to wander down one of the streets to find someplace to eat (keeping in mind that the more we went down, the more we had to come back up those stairs!)
We found a lovely little shaded restaurant where we could eat...
and watch the people... (you wouldn't see this in the US!)
You know that one of my favorite things is to watch life taking place; well, here we got to see life and death taking place! As we were eating, a hearse pulled up to the church right across from our table...
and they brought out the casket for someone who had died...
It was interesting to watch the people from the church following the hearse up the street...
We ended our day with the best granite of our whole trip at Bam Bar Cafe.
Everyone had told us that we must go there, and they were right! It was the best... so creamy and flavorful.**
Taormina is very different from the other parts of Sicily that we visited. It is much more touristy but very pretty. We're glad we got to see this side of Sicily, too!
I'll be back for one last post with some final thoughts about visiting Sicily. Thank you for following along on our adventure!
**Here is some info I found about the difference between gelato and granite:
- Gelato (plural, gelati) has more milk than cream (if any) so its fat content is significantly lower than ice cream. It doesn’t saturate your taste buds as much as ice cream so the flavor seems more intense. It is often flavored with fresh fruit, nuts, chocolate, and other natural flavors. Gelato is served at a higher temperature than ice cream — it usually looks more like frozen yogurt or whipped cream than ice cream.
- Sorbet, which means water ice, is made from fruit, wine, or liqueur, but not milk, sometimes flavored with herbs and spices, and then whipped to lighten its texture.
- Granite is similar to sorbet but not whipped. Ice crystals give it a granular appearance and a bit of a crunchy texture.