Our cruise ship docked in Messina, Sicily and I searched for private day tours to Taormina and the surrounding area. Our driver, Calogero, picked us up at the cruise dock in a Mercedes and took us towards Taormina. Along the way, you could catch amazing views of Mt Etna. We stopped first at the beach resort town of Giadini Naxos. Calogero showed us the lava river and how it drops into the sea. This town has sand trucked in as opposed to the pebble rock beaches nearby. Calogero stopped at a local Sicilian pastery shop and we tasted the delicious cannoli and almond cookies. Our tour then took us to Piazza Belvedere (Lookout square) for a photo stop with breathtaking views of Isolabella (Beautiful island). Going further up the way past Taormina on to Castlemola, we stopped at Madonna della Rocca, a church made into the rocks! They have a lovely, small garden with great views down onto Taormina. Castlemola was a quaint little town, although the castle is currently closed for renovations. There is a bar here where you can taste the almond wine. Our driver then took us to Taormina for free time. We took the cable car ride down to Isolabella, had lunch at an amazing restaurant called Osteria Nero D'Avola, strolled the main cobblestone thoroughfare and then met Calogero for our ride back to the ship. This was an amazing private excursion that I highly recommend!
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