After a 3-hour hydrofoil ride from Stromboli back to mainland Sicily I start the journey towards Mt Etna.
First though I’m dropping into the village of Castelmola, perched on a hilltop above the bigger Taormina.
The main square: it’s a small village with only about 1,000 people, but Castelmola has fantastic views over the town below.
At the top of the hill is the castle that gives the village its name. Originally built by the Normans, it’s ruined now but you can still walk among the stones and admire the view from all sides.
Looking inland from the castle.
Castelmola is a very picturesque village and I’m glad I visited, its full of these narrow twisting streets leading to shops and cafes.
Walking down one of the streets I came across Bar Turrisi, famous for its ahem phallic themed decor.
Descending to the bottom of the village I reach the Sentiero dei Saraceni (Path of the Saracens), its the ancient path between Castelmola and Taormina.
Looking back up the trail: it gets quite steep and overgrown in places but the trail is well marked and it’s impossible to get lost.
After about an hour I arrive at the gates of Taormina, this archway is the Porta Catania at the western end of the city. It’s one of several entrances in the historic walls that once protected the city.
The journey down took about an hour, and I’ve only got time to briefly walk through (and eat some gelato), I’ve still got to travel 50km to my guesthouse for tonight.
The main street (Corso Umberto) runs through the center of Taormina, its pedestrianised and full of boutique shops and hotels.
It’s clearly geared towards tourists and everything is pricy, but there are lots of side streets and alleys you can duck into.
The Cathedral of Taormina, dating back to the 13th century and dedicated to St. Nicholas of Bari. I’m only walking through the town so I don’t have time to properly visit.
The fountain in front is pretty old too, the Quattro Fontane was built in the 1630s. Its name (in English: four fountains) refers to the four fountains on the corners.
At the very end of the street, the road narrows and passes under the Porta Messina – the eastern gate to the city.
Its a shame I can’t stay longer, Taormina has a spectacular Greek amphitheater a short walk from here and I’d love to visit.
Unfortunately for me, tomorrow is the day I tackle Mt Etna and I’ve got an early start, so instead I head south to my overnight halt in the town of Nicolosi.