Messina! This was our latest port arrival. The scheduled time was 12:00-8:00. This meant that we actually got to sleep in a bit. This was especially needed after our non-stop day in Rome. It was nice to be able to relax a bit in the morning and then really enjoy the arrival process.
I headed up to the main exterior deck to observe. The island of Sicily and mainland Italy are somewhere between 2-4km apart. So it was very cool to pass through this area and see the island on one side and the mainland on the other. It was also a lovely sunny morning, which added to the beauty of it all!
This was an old power tower. Our tour guide from later in the day mentioned something about it being a gift from the Germans and this was how power from the mainland was brought to the island. I have no idea on the validity of all that, but it was pretty impressive to see these (above is one side and then below is the other).
One thing I enjoyed about the cruise is how they would raise a flag of whichever country we would be visiting that day. Here is Italy's flag!
One of the interesting things entering Messina is their patron saint. It was cool to see this as we arrived at the port.
Messina was much prettier than I expected. One of the negatives about reading about a place before you go is having your opinion impacted. A lot of reviews made Messina sound like a boring, industrial, and unclean place. While it's not as rich in the historical building (mainly due to so many natural and manmade disasters occurring) it is still a lovely place! We only wandered around town for an hour or so after our tour, but I still enjoyed that brief exploration.
Anyway, onto the tour! Our tour started at 12:45, which meant we grabbed a quick lunch and then headed to the meeting place (the theatre) for 12:30. We were group 10 and were given bright red "10" stickers to identify us. The tour was led by a short, stocky Italian lady with blonde curly hair. She was wearing all black leather- a dress, a jacket, and boots. And it was hot already!
The drive to Taormina was about 45 minutes. It was a beautiful drive, lots of hills, gorgeous mountains, the Mediterranean often in view, lush vegetation and the tunnels! Being in the middle of the flattest part of Canada, tunnels are somewhat of a novelty, I totally loved them!
We parked in a parking garage in the side of a mountain and then road a 7-story elevator and walked out onto a terrace to see this:
So beautiful! And you can just see the edge of Mt. Etna to the right.
We started on the tour of the town, learning a little bit of the history. It's now mostly a tourist spot- lots of gift shops and cafes. Our "whispers" (aka the listening devices) did not have a good range so it was pretty hard to hear most of the tour guide. But it was all pretty straightforward.
One of the big stops on the tour was the theatre. I loved it! At first when you walk in, the subtle modernization kind of throws you up, but you really need to get up into the higher sections of the theatre and really explore. This is a view looking out towards Mt. Etna. I love how it's pretty symmetrically framed between the walls.
Here's more of a panoramic shot of it.
And then, if you keep heading up and exploring, you get the lovely views of the sea!
I found a lizard while up there, so of course I had to get a shot. I don't know why, but I always am amused by geckos being out and about.
It was just a really pretty town. I loved exploring it!
We had some free time, so David stopped for some pizza and a coke with lemon. I got lemon gelato. When you see all the amazing gelato and citrus everywhere, you pretty much have to get some!
The tour left around 4:30, and after all the walking and sunshine, I was pretty beat. We walked around the area near the port for a little bit. I liked this statue below, from one view it looks like an angel and from this view it looks more like a heart.
We also saw this amazing sight! I guess you've got to move a couch somehow!
And then we headed to the plaza to check out large clock tour. Because of the time of day, it wasn't active. However, it appeared to be under restoration, so I'm doubtful it was working anyway. Still pretty cool to see!
We headed back to boat and I enjoyed the beautiful sunset from the balcony. It wasn't so much a colourful one, but the sun glowing just was beautiful!
We had a late dinner- at 8:30, as I had expected us to be on shore for longer. Because it was a late departure, the dining room was BUSY! Our dinners were just ok that night. We both had spinach dip as an appetizer, I had gyoza as my main (which honestly felt more like a 2nd appetizer). David has chicken caesar salad. We kind of just weren't feeling it. We were probably overtired and a it grumpy, so that didn't help the situation. After dinner, we went up to the Viking Lounge for drinks. It was nice, I had a peach bellini, David had a beer. It was a good way to end the evening and relax in a quiet, dim, chilled out environment. Next up- Malta (the place I knew existed, didn't know anything about before going, but totally fell in love with everything I read and saw about it)