1 day in Taormina (and Noto)
After two fantastic days in Palermo, we rented a car and hit the road to discover the west of the Italian island. Our next stop was Taormina, the most popular summer destination in Sicily.
Where to stay
The hotel we booked in Taormina was by far the fanciest of our whole Italy-Sicily trip; which makes perfect sense actually as Taormina is often described as the "Sicilian Saint-Tropez", a high-end getaway for the rich and famous.
When we exited the scenic highway, we drove our little white Ford Fiesta up a dramatic hill, only to discover that Taormina beared a striking resemblance to Positano: small winding roads - with loads of pedestrians on them, steep incline, fancy people and most importantly, a stunning view.
Our hotel, the Villa Le Terrazze, offered quite a unique one. From our private balcony overlooking the town, we could see the sea (and the hotel pool) right at our feet, on our right, the Etna, and on our left, the old Taormina castle.
This plush hotel, which offers a delicious home-cooked breakfast served by the pool, is only a few steps from the centre of the town and after our recent stays in Positano and Ravello, climbing up and down stairs didn't bother us. Although the hotel staff advised us to take a bus to get back from the town, we proudly walked it, happy to burn a few of the many, many calories provided by our delicious dinner.
What to do
Like most summer towns, this lovely place attracts people from all around the world looking for a peaceful place to relax by the pool or at the beach, get tanned and enjoy some really good food.
Apart from the luxurious shops spread out on the fancy Corso Umberto, Taormina's landmarks include its Greek Theater, as well as several churches which can all be visited in a day.
Where to eat
For our one night in Taormina, we booked a table at Rosso Peperoncino, located slightly off the Corso Umberto. Prices in Taormina tend to be a little higher than in the rest of Sicily, especially if you choose a restaurant with a sea view. The menu in Rosso Peperoncino remains affordable but expect to spend more than for a typical Sicilian dinner. We ordered some delicious seafood ravioli but the true showstopper was the ravioli with ricotta, almonds and pistachio, a creamy dish offering an original combination of flavours that worked incredibly well together.
The next day, after relaxing by the pool for a few hours, we left for Modica and decided to include a naughty stop in Noto. We recently learnt about this place in the new season of 'Chef's Table - Pastry', which features the now famous Caffè Sicilia, an old eatery led by the talented Corrado Costanzo. Since we were in the area, we felt compelled to add it to our itinerary and we didn't regret it.
Influenced by what we saw on screen, we ordered the trio of granite, a brioche, a cannolo and finally, two scoops of ice-cream. Everything was insanely tasty, but the winner for me was the almond granita, which I ate until the last drop - quite literally, we wiped the bowl clean using the brioche. The flavours were incredibly subtle, highlighted with the right amount of sweetness. The cannolo could be considered a masterpiece. Strangely enough, all the treats felt incredibly light, so light indeed that we could have ordered them all over again - in fairness, we were really close from doing so...