After departing from Naples yesterday the next stop for the cruise is the largest island in the Mediterranean. The island is Sicily, and the particular city is Catania, located on the Eastern Coast of the island. Catania is the last port in Italy before the cruise sets course for Greece. However, it is not the last port in Italy with the cruise ending in Venice.
The port call today was rather short, arriving around 8 am and an all aboard time of 2.30 pm. To help ensure I made the most of the time in port today I decided to take a tour instead of trying to explore on my own. The tour I choose took us to another town to the north of Catania by the name of Taormina.
Catania To Taormina
As you are leaving Catania, there is one very prominent item in the landscape, the volcanic peak of Mount Etna. It is an impressive sight at over 10,000 feet high and still very much an active volcano. In fact, it was active just ten days ago, and there are signs of the ash from this eruption visible in the photo.
The drive from Catania to Taormina is along the slopes of Mt Etna, but still a reasonable distance from the peak itself. The views out over the ocean and the coastline are simply stunning and I think would be even better on a clear day.
Taormina id located at an elevation of around 200 metres (669 feet) above sea level. Of course giving it some rather stunning views over the coast both to the north and south. In some ways the location is remote, but at least now there are roads to make reaching the area easier. I imagine back in the 8th century BC when the area was first settled it would have been a lot harder to access.
One of the main highlights of the tour to Taormina is the reasonably well-preserved ruins of a Greek-Roman Theatre. The ruins date back to the 3rd century BC, and they are still complete enough that they have been used even today for concerts and performances.
The location of the ruins affords a rather stunning view of the surrounding area. From the very top of the ruins looking to the south, you can see the coastline and slopes of Mt Etna.
The town of Taormina itself is quite photogenic, and there is plenty to see. Almost everywhere that you look there is something to catch the eye and your imagination. It could be a staircase that holds the tables and chairs of a cafe, an appealing storefront of just some of the buildings.
In some ways, it kind of looks like a movie set, like it is not how a town could naturally look. But it is just how the town has developed and been given character by the people that live here.
The day has been a great day exploring the town of Taormina. However, I can see there being a whole lot more to explore in around Catania. Especially since the length of the tour did not allow much if any time to look at the town of Catania itself. I am sure that one day in the future I may get a chance to return to the area and fully appreciate what is here.