By Shereen Shabnam
Seeing Sicily by road with a Jeep Cherokee proved to be one of the most exciting trips I did last month visiting the most famous areas in Taormina, staying on the bay with a picturesque view of the bay, going on a dinner cruise and exploring ancient ruins before continuing the journey to other parts of beautiful Sicily.
Taormina is one of Italy’s most historic holiday resorts perched on a slope high above the Ionian Sea on the eastern coast of Sicily. It is a popular and trendy destination with numerous attractions and dining options close to the site of one of the earliest colonies founded by the Ancient Greeks in Sicily. It is known for its favourable position, mild climate and captivating atmosphere.
The town is on the hill of the Monte Tauro, dominating two grand, sweeping bays below and on the southern side, the top of Mount Etna, the European highest active volcano. From my hotel room in Hotel Villa Diodoro, I still have a vision of a memorable view of almost one hundred miles of Mediterranean sea and the mountains in the distant.
We drove through the tourist town in the new Jeep Cherokee and stopped at the town cathedral to explore the town for a taste of Sicilian dolce vita and ended up indulging in the best home made chocolates, exotic cheeses and gourmet food while going through colourful art, roadside gelato stands and taking in the breathtaking vistas.
The best part of Taormina was visiting the stunning ancient Greek theatre, which although in ruins in most parts, has both a magical and mythical atmosphere, seeing the Roman “Naumachiae”, the 10th century Palazzo Corvaja, the 13th century Cathedral of Saint Nicolò, the 16th century Palace of the Dukes of Saint Stefano and the public gardens.
The preservation of history and culture is evident as we walked through streets with a charming atmosphere exuded from the old town pedestrian areas. We were given the option of seeing art performances at the Greek theatre, painting exhibitions held in local palazzi and churces but we opted to use the day to walk along the famous “Corso Umberto” with its classical music cafès and pastry shops.
Sicilian cuisine uses a lot of natural locally grown ingredients and this is reflected in the taste of the food in the restaurants, pizzerias and cafes. We tried local pasta dishes, gelatos and cafes that were delicious and worth going back for. The quaint shops sold typical Sicilian products such as the renowned hand made ceramics, local gourmet items, fine leather, wrought iron and wooden products.
When we reached the bay area in the evening for a dinner cruise, we noticed a lot of locals and tourists enjoying water sports such as windsurfing, sailing, fishing, scuba diving and canoeing. Our guide mentioned that the Town of Linguaglossa is the point of departure of most excursions heading into the Mt. Etna Nature Park. We never made it to the top but seeing the live lava at night on the top from a distance was special and brought home the message of how nature can be so powerful in its different terrains.
Taormina is easy to reach from Catania Fontanarossa. The journey takes about an hour and a half and our journey was particularly special as we drove the new Jeep Cherokee through different parts of Sicily and explored the best of the natural terrain.The mid-sized SUV offers the pleasure of the open-air driving experience withthe optional CommandView dual-pane power sunroof, an off-road attitude its capability to ease itself through in the city.
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