We have a new favorite place in town – the Wunderbar Caffe.
It is a classic outdoor cafe / bar with white-jacketed waiters, where Greta Garbo, Liz Taylor, and Tennessee Williams all held court back in the day. It reminds us of our favorite Caffe Florian in Venice. Like Caffe Florian, it is listed in all the guidebooks as a place everyone should go at least once.
Well, we have already been 5 times! During the day, it doesn’t look like anything that special and is mobbed with tourists. But at night it becomes the most magical place in Taormina. It is set on the main piazza where the whole town gathers on their nightly walks, with a view of the sea on one side and the mountains on the other. They always have live entertainment, which we could listen to for hours (and do!). The guidebooks warned that a meal there can be a little pricey since they are so famous. But we order a glass of wine or a granite (like ice cream) and spend the evening being enchanted.
Our Favorite Acts
Most nights, there is a saxophone player, accompanied by a percussionist and pianist. The sax player takes the most interesting positions – the best being sitting back with his feet up on the lamp post. The most fun is watching people walk by and realize that the guy with his feet propped up is actually playing the music. They smile and soon a whole crowd is there taking pictures. Then, romance takes over, and people start dancing right in the square. One night they even did “Girl from Impanema,” where the sax player started playing the napkin holder, a Coke bottle, and ashtray with drumsticks. We love it!
On other nights, the band is led by a Sicilian who reminds me of a Frenchman, with his beret. He plays the tambourine and sings, accompanied by accordion and guitar. It is like watching a cabaret. When we walked in the first time, he knew Frank had to have Sicilian roots and came over and asked us about it. Soon – he was playing a “special song” for his friend from Canicatti – and launched into the theme from “The Godfather.” We came back another night and, as we sat down, he introduced the whole crowd to Frank, his Sicilian friend.
Another night, there were three different tables with men of around the same age whose parents grew up in Sicily (Frank being one of them). Their parents all had ended up in different countries – the USA, Belgium, and Germany. But obviously their mothers had all sung the same songs to them in the Sicilian dialect. As the leader sang one traditional song after the other, you could see the faces of each of these men light up as they recognized and sang along, remembering their childhoods. It made me a little teary-eyed. What a very special place Sicily is.