We have become true tourists and today explored the town on the Hop-On Hop-Off bus. This is one of our favorite things to do in any new place. I think we like it so much because there is absolutely no way to look cool or pretend like you know what you’re doing when your on a Hop-On bus. So you can just relax and have fun. And it is an excellent way to get the lay of the land before striking out on your own.
The bus took us down the coast to neighboring beach towns and to the famous beaches of Taormina, including Isola Bella, a beautiful little island you can walk to at low tide – we hope to go there next week.
Up the Mountain
But our destination was up in the mountains. We had heard of a cute mountain town that was slightly off the beaten path. We read it had cobblestoned streets, amazing views, and shops and restaurants for lunch. We thought we’d hop off, have lunch and walk back down the 5 km to Taormina.
Well – about half-way up the mountain, the sky got dark, and we could see lightening in the distance. Our hop-on bus was open-air, but our driver frantically rolled up a canvas top. However, the sides were still open. Then it started to pour. There is nothing quit like sitting in an open-air vehicle in the pouring rain with nowhere to go.
We finally made it to the little town, jumped out, and ran for the nearest bar – which was standing room only. We ordered a cafe at the bar and stood while we drank it, just like the locals, since there were no seats.
Eventually, the rain slowed to a mist, and we ventured out. What a magical little town! We found a restaurant with a gorgeous view over the mountain and lingered over pasta and fish, while we dried out.
After lunch, we explored the duomo and shops. I even discovered a jewelry designer who makes one-of-a-kind jewelry out of lava from Mount Etna (we have seen this lava jewelry, but hers definitely had a flair). We loved Castemola!
P.S Our other big accomplishment is that we have learned to make our favorite cocktail – the Aperol Spritz, which everyone drinks in Italy. We felt very 1940s – mixing up cocktails in our living room!
Recipe: Over ice, mix 0.50 ml Aperol (an orange liqueur that says “poco alcolico”) with 0.75 ml Prosecco. Add a splash of soda water and an orange slice. Very refreshing.