After meeting your professionally-trained guide, set out on the one hour drive to Taormina. Perched on the side of a hill overlooking the sea, the town has a delightful character. Upon arrival, your walking tour will begin with a brief exterior visit to the famous 15th-century Palazzo Corvaia. This building, indicative of the architectural style of the period, is adorned with classic double windows.
Your guide will take you to scenic lookouts of Mount Etna and the Bay of Naxos, point out the municipal buildings and the maze of staircase "streets" that intertwine in this predominately pedestrian only hillside town.
You will then have approximately one hour of free time to grab a coffee or hot chocolate or explore the many shops that line Corso Umberto, Taormina's main street. As well as being a resort town with boutiques of European fashion, you will also see many shops that offer the local Sicilian pottery.
For guests up to the climb, during the free time, your guide will lead an optional tour of the impressive Greek Theater, known for its stunning location. This Roman-style theater was reconstructed in the 2nd century AD. It has marvelous acoustics which allow performances of classical plays to still be held in the theater. To reach the theater requires climbing several uneven, steep stone steps. To access the upper part of the theater also involves climbing uneven steps. For those willing to do it, you will be rewarded with impressive views. Guests wishing to visit the theater are responsible for their own admission which is 10 euro.
After free time, you will meet your guide at the designated location and walk back to your vehicle. From here, you will drive back to the city of Messina for a brief orientation. With a history dating back to the 8th century B.C., Messina has been sacked, seized, or conquered by Carthaginians, Memertines, Goths, Arabs, Normans and English to name a few, but their spirit was never defeated. In more recent times, the city was almost entirely destroyed by an earthquake and tsunami in 1908, which killed over 60,000 people and destroyed most of the ancient architecture. Further damage was added by the massive Allied air bombardments of 1943, which caused thousands of deaths.
Your driver will take you along Messina's main street, the Via Garibaldi. You will see the Vittorio Emanuele Theater, the Town Hall, the church of Catalani, the Court and the university. Before returning to the ship, a photo stop will be made at the Cathedral Square to view the church, the Orion Fountain and the world's largest Astronomical clock, with more than 33,000 gears and moving parts. Guests wishing to remain in the downtown area will be responsible for their own transportation back to the pier.
Reviewer: A. Morgenstein
Basic tour. Good guide. Reasonable value.
This was an excellent tour by a very knowledgeable guide. Taormina is a beautiful little town that is well worth a visit.
Reviewer: Elizabeth Zerwekh
We were very happy with our well-spoken intelligent guide. She was concerned with us and made sure we understood what we were seeing and with us as people. Loved the part of having drinks and pastry!
Reviewer: Elizabeth Zerwekh
We had a large group but Beatrice kept us all happy and interested. She made sure that we were together and knew how to find her and gave us interesting information along the way. Loved Taormina-partly because of her!
Reviewer: Ron & Donna O'Genski
A nice way to see the highlights of Sicily