We were meant to tender in Giardini Naxos today, with tours running to the quaint cliffside town of Taormina. However, Mother Nature had other plans. Due to high winds, rain and lightning, Captain Jose instead decided to dock in the Sicilian town of Messina. Most Azamara Shore Excursions tours were cancelled, and most guests preferred to spend the day relaxing onboard and enjoying the additional onboard activities scheduled.
Azamara Quest in Messina, Sicily, Italy.
For those of us who were willing the brave the elements, the “Taormina On Your Own” tour went ahead as planned. The hour-long drive into town was a great opportunity to take in the beautiful countryside of Sicily.
Thankfully, the rain mostly held off during the several hours we spend exploring Taormina, and we were able to appreciate the rich history and idyllic charm the town provides. Though we weren’t able to enjoy the island’s many beaches during this particular trip, we thoroughly appreciated the views from the cliffs above.
A little rain won't get in the way of Hide & Tweet!
Sicily offers much more than beaches. There’s fantastic cuisine to enjoy, shopping to indulge in, and a fascinating ancient Greco-Roman amphitheater to explore. The Teatro Greco is built high on a hill, and offers stunning views of the beaches, jagged cliffs and houses below. It’s easy to imagine what a spectacular venue it would have been centuries ago.
As I explored Taormina, I indulged in a cannolo (or two), and a sandwich made with salami, sundried tomatoes, and pistachio cheese. I picked up a few souvenirs for home: blood orange marmalade, pistachio pesto, Nero d'Avola red wine, and spicy red pepper Sicilian chocolate.
Look for classic Sicilian flavors when purchasing food: almonds, pistachios, olives, capers, peppers, tomatoes, oranges and apricots are all common in Sicilian cuisine.
Next, I found my way to the Hide & Tweet secret location: Piazza IX Aprile. The piazza is at the center of Taormina, and offers a spectacular view of the Ionian Sea below. Nearby are two churches, and Taormina’s clock tower.
The Piazza gets its name from a famous event. On April 9, 1860, a mass at the Taormina cathedral was interrupted to announce that Garibaldi had landed at Marsala to begin his conquest of Sicily. This was premature - Garibaldi did not land in Marsala until May 9, 1860.
Congratulations to @MedCruiseGuide, who correctly found me! This lucky winner receives National Geographic’s upcoming coffee table book, Destinations of a Lifetime. Time to do a little travel planning, perhaps?
As the day wore on, the weather worsened. Azamara Quest staff always has guests’ safety and comfort at top of mind, so they decided to move the AzAmazing Evening onboard the ship. We enjoyed a stellar performance by three local opera singers and an orchestra in the Cabaret Lounge onboard.
Tomorrow is a sea day, giving guests time to relax and recharge before arriving in Greece! Stay tuned for three more rounds of Hide & Tweet on Saturday in Chania, Sunday in Santorini, and Monday in Athens. The best prizes have yet to come!
Feel inspired to see Taormina for yourself? It’s a stop on the 7 Night Adriatic & Amalfi Coast Voyage in September 2016.