For those that go to Sicily frequently Taormina is a place on everyone’s lips. It is pretty, small enough to visit in a day or two and it is close to the sea. Taormina is definitely a touristic place but you must visit it at least once if you visit Sicily. For us Maltese it is a common destination it has a lot of charm with its shops and restaurants, may be slightly too commercial.
I had visited Taormina way back in the 1990’s and wanted to see if anything had changed, apart from more modern amenities nothing had. If you are staying in Taormina for a weekend I recommend you stay as close as possible to the main street: Corso Umberto. This street is a straight street where other side streets lead off into little other passages. All shops and restaurants are on this road or just off it. It is a kilometre long so if your accommodation is on one side or the other it is still viable.
Our accommodation in Taormina was Villa Astoria. This hotel was chosen for the proximity to Porta Messina, perfect for just leaving our car in the hotel’s car park and walking wherever we wanted to go. We didn’t know that Villa Astoria was an adult’s only hotel, we found that out when we got there. I am not reviewing this hotel as although it served its purpose, I am not really keen on the “no kids” rule. Not seeing kids though, did help to supress further my guilt (check here how I dealt with this issue).
When we arrived at Taormina it was after making the most of Donna Carmela so it was lunch time. We asked the owner of the hotel for a good restaurant and he recommended a Sicilian place off the beaten touristic track. We told him to book it for us for the evening. We then headed off to the main road to just roam free and enjoy the Sicilian life. We felt at home. There was a festive vibe going on as it was Carnival and Taormina was preparing for their annual parade. We walked from Porta Messina to Porta Catania and stopped for a few photos on the way. We then needed to eat and while we were looking for a place for lunch we came across the recommended restaurant and we decided to try it instead of the evening.
Tischi Toschi has also a very curious meaning to it and if you are curious send me a message and I’ll tell you. The hotel owner had warned us that the service was to be a bit rough but honestly we prefer it that way than the silver service of the previous night. The waiter was real! He recommended the food and was always true to his word. We spent a good 2 -3 hours here eating, drinking and talking.
The owner came out many times with his guitar and played a few tunes as if he was on his own. In the end we were offered to join him on his table and drink with him. We shared stories, helped the tourists from Austria that were sitting next to us and felt very full. The best Nero di Sepia around is found at Tischi Toschi. Sorry Il-Borgho (Marzamemi) but they beat you at this plate. If you want the softest tuna steak around il-Borgho is where you need to go!
So after drinking a bottle of very good wine – Antura, Grilo (bio). A few aperitifs and a glass of grappa – we headed down the lane towards the public gardens of Villa Communale. To have some time to sober up.
These gardens are a bit run down and it is a great pity as their potential is incredible. There are a few signs that the authorities are taking care of these gardens but as in many things in Sicily things take a long time to be done. Still, here is where I missed my kids the most; I could see them running and playing in between the magnificent trees.
The views from here are so breath taking that I didn’t want the sun to go down. It was getting dark and cold very quickly but I just didn’t want the day to end. I felt such peace here away from the hassle of the main road. Carnival had started.
Still, I wanted to try and fit in the Old Theatre in my visit so we started walking that way. Unfortunately, we were too late and the theatre had just closed. The walk up to the theatre from the gardens includes lots of steps and here I was happy my kids were not with me! We had to avoid the main road as it was packed with people seeing the parade – you would be trapped if you are in it. Still, the walk up the steps was an experience in itself even if the restaurants were closed as their season hadn’t yet started. Another reason to be back.
We ended the day with a Sicilian coffee at a very popular café; Bam Bar. Famous for its granitas and ice-creams, it was too cold for me to try one but many Sicilian families seemed to end their Sundays here. We were lucky to find a table. It wrapped our day in Taormina but we know that we will be back to go other places. That night we didn’t have dinner as we were still full from our experience at Tischi Toschi but we did meet some Sicilian friends for more drinks…you can do that without guilt if you are kids free.
We only had one day and one night in Taormina so we did not go everywhere we wanted to. Giardini Naxos (the beach area), Isola Bella and the actual Theatre was not visited – an excuse to visit with the kids next time, I will make sure of that! If you have a family hotel in Taormina you would like to recommend please leave me the details below.
Where have you been kids free? How did you deal with the guilt? If you recommend a place to go in Taormina or anywhere else please send me a message.