ARRIVAL IN CATANIA: We arrived at about 22:30 at Catania airport on May 16 and was greeted by our driver from New Travel Services (we had organised this beforehand with Christian). To Taormina, it cost 67 euros (plus 3 euros tip). We found the service good, with Christian calling the driver when we were in the car to make sure we were ok (nice touch). Would recommend using New Travel Services www.newtravelservices.net.
TAORMINA: In Taormina, we stayed at Hotel Victoria on Corso Umberto for 90 euros per night. Decent stay, great location. The next day, we picked up our hire car from Avis (we had booked directly on the website). We drove up to Milazzo as we were heading to Stromboli island. We used Garage Delle Isole to park our car (http://www.garagedelleisole.it). They gave us a free lift to the port of Milazzo. Upon arrival, the information centre told us through very broken English that there were no boats going! We thought it was windy, but didn't think that the ferries would be cancelled as we were telling everyone (including hotel staff and avis rental car people) that we were heading to Stromboli (we thought that living on the island, they would know that the ferries would be canceled!). So we drove back to Taormina and enjoyed the Greek Theatre (highly recommend at 8 euros per person). We called up Garage Delle Isole to pick us up again and were ready to offer him money for his time in dropping us off and picking us up but he refused to accept the 10 euros. I would highly recommend using their services. They are very friendly. Hotel Ossidiana in Stromboli also kindly did not charge us as we were not able to get to the island even though there was a cancellation policy. We ate at L'incontro restaurant in the evening in Taormina.
MT ETNA: The next day, we drove to Mt Etna. We took the cable car, jeep, and guide for 60.50 euros per person (pretty expensive). Don't forget to pay for parking at Mt Etna. At 2900 metres (where the jeep drops you off), I was not prepared for the cold even though I brought layers. It was too windy! I really needed a beanie and gloves! The mandatory guide spoke both in English and Italian, but it was very difficult to hear him because of the wind and the big crowd (I think about 20 people). So I thought that the guide was useless to have although you had to pay for it if you go with the jeep. My partner unfortunately, started to get a toothache because of the pressure up at 2900 metres. We saw people walking up to the volcano and thought they were pretty brave - it would have taken hours! In hindsight, I don't think we would have done the cable car and jeep. It was expensive and it was just as enjoyable to walk around Crateri Silvestri.
SYRACUSE: We drove to Syracuse and stayed at Hotel Livingston for 2 nights in Ortigia. We visited Castello Maniace (4 euros per person, ok, but not much information provided about the castle), Duomo (lovely!), and enjoyed walking around Ortigia, especially by the seaside. Once we arrived in Ortigia, we didn't need to use our hire car for the whole duration we were there.
CATANIA: Our trip was cut short by one day as my partner's toothache worsened. We had to pay 700 euros (ouch!) for two new easyjet tickets back to Geneva (this was more expensive than our return trip with Alitalia, but these things happen). We drove back to Catania airport, dropped off our hire car. By the way, for 4 days, our hire car cost 178 euros with full insurance (we had a golf, diesel, manual). We took bus 457 (1 euro for 90 minutes) to the duomo and explored up via etnea. We arrived at Villa Bellini and walked around there. We didn't really like Catania on a Sunday. It was quiet and we were actually happy to leave Catania. We wanted to visit the fish market, but unfortunately it was closed on Sunday (was supposed to visit on Monday).
Out of Taormina, Catania, Syracuse, we enjoyed Taormina the most!
Our trip was sort of 'dampened' by the toothache incident on Mt Etna, which caused our budget to blow out excessively because we rushed to get home, but we enjoyed the Sicilian food, people, and sea. My partner thought that the Sicilians were crazy drivers. They drive in the middle of the road!
I have reviewed Hotel Victoria, Hotel Livingston and the restaurants that we ate in (L'incontro, Lungo la Notte, Trattoria del Cavaliere).
Hope you enjoyed my review.