November 4, 2011 Cosenza to Taormina

Today is mostly a driving day but we are excited about the end point. We are staying in Taormina at our favorite hotel, the Villa Ducale. We have stayed there once before. John took a cooking lesson with the father of the manager the last time we were in Taormina. It is top rated on TripAdvisor and we would heartily recommend it to anyone traveling to Sicily.

But first we must drive through Calabria, catch a ferry to cross the Strait of Messina, and then drive the rest of the way to Taormina. The countryside in Calabria is ruggedly beautiful. There are mountains and deep valleys and everything is green. Where the soil is arable olive trees and vegetables are planted. The only drawback is the Autostrada, A-3, which is under construction. It was under construction two years ago and for the past ten years and will continue to be under construction for at least another 10 years. They are reboring all the tunnels and making new bridges and roadway in this land which is pretty hostile to being tamed. We are mostly single-tracked along the way and the ride takes longer than we anticipated. But finally we are at Villa San Giovanni and after making a couple attempts at getting to the ferry terminal, we have success and are all aboard.

John on the ferry crossing to Sicily

We pass our sister ferry, Scilla. There is a town on the mainland called Silla. We wonder if there is one on the Sicily side named Charybdis.

Passing our sister ferry, Scillia.

After slogging our way through Messina and having an unsatifactory lunch at a grungy AutoGrill, we reach our hotel perched high on a cliff overlooking the Ionian Sea. Sontina, who helps in the kitchen and with the serving, greets us effusively with hugs and European double cheek kissing. The first thing that happens is that they set you down on their porch with snacks and a glass of prosecco while they take care of your luggage and make sure your room is perfectly prepared.

The view from the porch at the Villa Ducale

John enjoying welcome snacks and prosecco

While we enjoy our welcome, tea time pastries are laid out. Tea time pastries and beverages are at 3 PM every day. We cannot help ourselves and eat a cannoli.

Tea time at Villa Ducale

Then we go to our room which is high up in the eaves of the hotel. There are flowers everywhere – in the bathroom, on our pillows, and on the coffee table.

Flowers on our pillows

Sitting area (not pictured, private terrace)

Then at 6 PM there are hors d’ouevres. Who can pass that up? Not us.

Table of hors d'ouevres

Paolo, the manager, suggests a regional wine. It is delicious.

Sicilian snacks and wine

Later we have dinner on the porch. Salads and pasta. And more wine. Diet? Was someone here on a diet? Not today.

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