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The rest of our stay was a sunny and warm 21°C (70°F). We got to explore the beaches and decided to hike from Letojanni to Taormina. Turns out there are no pedestrian friendly paths from one to the other, but we did find some cool ruins of unknown antiquity in some of the less accessible parts of the beach between the towns. (see below)
Taormina itself has been around since sometime around the 9th century BC, it seems. The Greeks built a theatre here in the third century BC, and the Romans expanded and improved it a couple hundred years later. It commands a magnificent view of the Mediterranean and Mount Etna – Europe’s largest active volcano, which looms above the town.
We enjoyed a Sicilian pizza with a view of the bay, and rode a cable car down to the beach, ate canola and sampled various pasticcherie for their dolci. The best was also found in Letojanni’s Piazza Durante at the Niny Bar, with a great ambiance. Unfortunately, the coffee did not compete with the less sophisticated place we tried before, just across the piazza, but the little pastries they make here are incredible.
While we got some good photos, i also found another travel blog with several really good ones: http://www.galenfrysinger.com/taormina_sicily.htm
It is a nine hour train ride from Rome to Taormina, about 750 km (466mi), and worth the extra 20 Euros for first class – which just means you get a semi-private cabin with up to passengers instead of open seating among sixty.
Before we left, a friend and classmate here told us that the way they got the train from the mainland to Sicily was by loading the passenger cars on a boat and then shipping us across! There’s only a mile and a half at the straits! If there’s a tunnel running 26 miles from England to France, surely they had a bridge or something for Italy to Sicily. Our skepticism melted when we got to the port of Villa San Giovanni, where, as predicted, they drove the train right onto a massive ferry and we set sail for the Sicilian port of Messina!
When we arrived at about 930pm, we discovered that the train station was actually 5 km drive up a winding road up a vertical climb of 700’ to the town of Taormina. But, we were actually staying a couple towns over, in Letojanni – 7 km away.