If you are looking for a romantic break in characteristic Taormina read my guide where I tell you what to see, where to stay and where to eat
I am a wholly deaf solo traveller, staying in Taormina and the surroundings in Sicily twice in 2009 and once in 2010. I found them very characteristic, and I feel these places should be great for couples wishing to have a romantic break. I did not have a partner with me there, because it’s not easy to find the right partner due to my deafness. My step-sister and her husband went to Taormina in 2008 and they had a fantastic vacation – they recommended this to me. I loved it there, because of the atmosphere.
What to see
In Taormina town, taking a stroll along the traffic-free Corso Umberto from The Messina Gate to The Catania Gate (or vice versa), you will see various historic buildings like IX Aprile Square, etc. There is a variety of shops, (including antique), also outdoor and indoor cafés/bar/restaurants, especially the well-known Bam Bar (Via Di Giovanni 45) where some famous Italian film stars, including the American film star Michael Douglas had some drinks, or meals. See further information and the photos on: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=91824231718&ref=ts#/group.php?v=info&ref=ts&gid=91824231718. If you like a bustling crowd, and plenty of nightlife, Taormina is right for you between early July and end of August.
Visiting the ancient Greek-Roman amphitheatre in Via Teatro Greco is a must! Its rises on a cliff on Tauro Mount, and it was built by the Greeks in the 3rd Century B.C. and later widened and restored by the Romans. Since its construction it has always been one of the most active theatres under the Greeks' rule, and it still hosts various shows during the summer season. Click on: http://www.taormina.sicily.it/en.
There are the paradise Public Gardens (Giardini Pubblici in Via Bagnoli Croci) where you would enjoy a romantic walk along the paths with many species of plants, flowers, palm trees, etc., and the Victorian Follies, fun buildings constructed by Florence Trevelyon in the 19th Century. You can also sit on the benches to admire the view of Giardini Naxos bay and Mount Etna.
There is a lookout point at Piazzetta del Belvedere’s balcony (Via Guardiola Vecchia 46) where you would enjoy the marvellous view of Isola Bella with a stunning sea-view. You can walk down the steps to Isola Bella as Sicily Holidays’ website (http://www.sicilyholidays.biz/uk/) recommends. The picturesque beach of Isola Bella is a pretty spot to have a drink, or meal at the Ristorante Pizzichella (Tel: 0039 0942 625189; Email: email@example.com; Website: http://www.pizzichella.it/uk/index.htm) with sea-view, especially at sunset.
Castelmola is a fairy-tale type characteristic village, 550 metres above the sea, with a piazza and a few bars and restaurants. The views are magnificent. This was once a stronghold for the defence of Taormina. Only ruins remain of the Castle and the medieval fortifications. You can get the 'Interbus' buses up to Castelmola from Taormina town. Website: http://www.interbus.it (Tel: 0039 0935 565111, or information on 0039 0935 22460).
Mount Etna is a huge, isolated volcano that rises above the shore of the Ionian Sea between Catania and Messina. It is one of the world's major volcanoes and the biggest in Europe, and has been active for as long as humans can remember. At times its many eruptions have caused disasters. I really enjoyed the Sunset Mount Etna tour in July 2009 – it was awesome and great fun, but very cold at the top! Take a warm jacket! If you are interested in visiting Mount Etna see http://www.sat-group.it/excursion_en.asp?cod=summer (Tel: 0039 0942 24653, or visit SAT Group booking office in Corso Umberto 73, Taormina).
Where to stay
I stayed at the charming family run boutique four star Hotel Villa Ducale in Via Leonardo da Vinci, 60, Taormina (Tel: 0039 0942 28153; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: http://www.villaducale.com/) for a second visit in 2009 for four nights back in November 2009. When I arrived the first evening, I was welcomed with open arms by some of the friendly hotel staff, who provided me with a glass of Sicilian wine. Afterwards, one of them took me to a ‘honeymoon’ type suite deluxe with ornate interiors – I felt like a Royal Highness and I enjoyed my experience in that suite. I enjoyed my breakfast on the terrace with the breathtaking views of snow-capped Mount Etna and Giardini Naxos bay. All the attentive multi-tasking staff, including the hotel owners Andrea and Rosaria Quartucci, looked after me so well during my stay.
This hotel is in a peaceful location, with many pretty flowers, if you want to get away from the crowds. It provides a free frequent shuttle to, and from, Taormina town and the beaches. It also has two bus stops nearby where you can get the buses down to Taormina, or up to the ‘fairy tale’ mountain village of Castelmola. Or you can walk down from the hotel to Taormina town via the public pathway where you can enjoy the panoramic views on foot like I did. It should take you about 10 to 15 minutes if you walk straight down. There is some seating and lampposts for after dark.
I also stayed at the lovely elegant boutique four star Hotel Villa Carlotta (Hotel Villa Ducale’s sister hotel) in Via Pirandello 81, Taormina (Tel: 0039 0942 626058; Email: email@example.com; Website: http://www.hotelvillacarlottataormina.com/) for 3 nights in November 2010, a genuine aristocratic castle-like Sicilian villa from where you can admire a unique and spectacular view of both the sea and snow-capped Mount Etna. It is also run by Andrea and Rosaria Quartucci.
On the first evening, when I arrived, a friendly receptionist came to greet me like a V.I.P. after I got out of the chauffeured car. I fell in love with Villa Carlotta at once after seeing a very characteristic lobby with huge Arab windows. She took me to the roof top Sicilian character restaurant for a welcome drink. I enjoyed drinking in the galaxy Tower lounge with the lovely ‘red’ coloured lights – very romantic. I loved my charming room with pretty décor!
The next morning, I opened my room’s curtains, what an amazing sea-view at sunrise – like paradise with the palm trees. I enjoyed my breakfast on the outdoor terrace outside the roof top restaurant with a stunning sea-view. That hotel has a beautiful Mediterranean garden and swimming pool!
Taormina is only a 5 mins’ walk from that hotel. The attentive and informative staff would be very happy to help you with booking the excursions, or any information on Sicily, flights, etc. – excellent service from them.
I should also add that hotel is disability aware, because they have the elevator with Braille for blind, or partially sighted guests. It has a front entrance door with wheelchair access for disabled or elderly guests (also great for moving heavy baggage with small wheels).
My step-sister and her husband stayed at the excellent traditional old Sicilian three star Hotel Villa Schuler in the very heart of Taormina town (Via Roma, Piazzette Bastione; Tel: 0039 0942 23481; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: http://www.hotelvillaschuler.com/) with splendid views and its own exotic garden back in May 2008. This hotel is closer to Giardini Pubblici.
Where to eat
During my last evening, I enjoyed Hotel Villa Ducale's delicious home-made sarde beccafica (Anchovies style) – see one of these pictures. They do provide you with various delicious light meals and plenty of various choices of wine at either the cocktail bar terrace with great views, or at their own indoor restaurant with elegant interiors. There is also the nearest restaurant at Ristorante Al Saraceno in Via Madonna della Rocca, 16/18, Taormina (about 5 minutes’ walk). I went there in July 2009 - I liked it, especially because it has an outdoor restaurant with the splendid view of Castelmola, Mount Etna, and Giardini Naxos bay from the sunset to night. Very relaxing. I enjoyed the delicious meal. Tel: 0039 0942 632015; Email: email@example.com; Website: http://www.alsaraceno.it/uk/.