For our last weekend on the island, we stayed in what everyone told us was the most beautiful part of Sicily: Taormina and Castelmola. We’re so glad we did! At one point, we could look out to the Ionian Sea, snow-capped Mt. Etna, rolling mountains, and old towns built into steep mountains. The whole scene was reminiscent of Jurassic Park!
Hotels and Hot Spots
Since we were there in the off-season we were able to stay at a very luxurious hotel! The rooms were decorated with Arabic patterns, and colors and the view from our windows looked out to the endless sea and Mt. Etna.
We went to the Teatro Greco (Greek Theater), which is the site to see while in Taormina. It was built in 7th century B.C. and is the second largest in Sicily (with Siracusa’s being first). It is the most celebrated ruins in Sicily, not only because it is so well preserved, but because of the remarkable scene it looks out to.
Etna Wine Tour
We designated Saturday as our wine tasting day. We hired Gaetano from a tour company to drive us to three different Etna wineries. While we could have done this ourselves, we wanted to enjoy ourselves completely without worrying about driving. These wineries had some amazing Sicilian wine grown with the soil from the volcanic site.
Wine tasting is just a little different here than in the States.
First, instead of standing at a bar, you sit down at a table while someone pours you tastings. Second, the tastings are not a little sip each. They fill your glass halfway! Third, many places will leave the bottles on the table and tell you to take as much as you want. All of this was true when we went wine tasting in Tuscany, too.
So needless to say, we had a very good time with the wine (maybe too much??), although the following pictures were taken before we had even one sip of wine.
Unusual Things to See in Castelmola
Warning: the following pictures are not suitable for work!
The next day, we went to a town called Castelmola. Castelmola is perched way above the area below, and consists of narrow, winding roads to get to the top. It has an old-world charm to it with panoramic views of Taormina, the sea, and Mt. Etna.
One of the biggest and most unusual places to see in this town is Bar Turrisi. Tourists have named this bar “Dicks Bar,” “Fertility Bar,” or “The Penis Bar.” The inside of the bar is decorated with… hmm, how do I say this? A lot of penises!
They are present in different shapes, lengths, and materials like wood, ceramics, terracotta, worked iron, and pasta. There were penises everywhere… even the faucet in the bathroom was a long and curved penis with the knobs representing… well you get where I’m going with it.
The reason behind this was that the penis is not a vulgar symbol, but instead represents fertility, freedom, fortune, life, and beauty. The bar has been passed down from three generations and the owners also used the penis to symbolize the happiness of their era.
Everyone reading this knows that we behaved like the mature 31 year olds that we are.
Afterwards, we took a walk and climbed up to the Norman Castle where again spectacular views awaited us.
This was a fantastic weekend in Taormina and Castelmola, Sicily!