I am skipping one of the ports: Naples. We got off the boat only to eat pizza for lunch. We were not a fan of Naples. The port area was full of trash, smelled terrible, and as you walked into the city it did not get any better. There were so many people and we were almost run over quite a few times by both mopeds and cars. I am not a big fan of cities in general, but I have no interest in going back to find any redeeming qualities of Naples. The pizza was good, but not worth the trip off the boat.
Taormina, on the other hand, was amazing. We decided to go own our own from the port. We walked to the train station and took the train to Taormina. The trains are on time, very clean, and have security cameras in every car. They also have a monitor so you can follow where you are stopping, what the next stop is, and how long it will take to get there. I was very impressed with the train service. We arrived on time and took a taxi up to the city. Taormina is located way up on the mountain. The taxi ride was expensive for a ten minute ride. It was 15 euros. However, it was worth it not to hike up the mountain on foot. It was also cheaper than a tour.
The taxi dropped us off at the main gate. There are no cars on the Main Street. It is filled with shops and restaurants. There are adorable side streets that go up and down the mountain. There is also a lovely town square with a library and a little church.
The main attraction for me was the Ancient Greek Amphitheater. It was originally constructed in the third century BC for plays and musical performances. The Romans expanded the theater to present gladiator games. It could hold around 5400 spectators. It is very well maintained. You can climb all around the seats, walk down near the stage area, and there are some amazing views of the Ionian Sea from the back side of the theater. It is still used today for concerts and plays. The seats are amazingly uncomfortable, but it would be pretty neat to watch a performance in a structure that was used in the 3rd century for the same thing!
After exploring the Greek Amphitheater, we walked to the end of the Main Street and had lunch outside of the wall. This was the best pasta that I had on the whole trip. It’s pasta with eggplant, tomato sauce, and, as the menu put it, salad cheese.
We did a little souvenir shopping, but I can never find t-shirts in Europe that I like that are not super expensive. Jef thought it would be a good idea to walk down to the train station. No one else was on the trail. It was so steep that our toes were squashed against the tip of our sneakers the entire time. Our calves were killing us the next day. It was an experience.
I loved the town of Taormina. When we returned to the U.S. I found out that the new season of White Lotus takes place there. I will have to check it out. The streets were a bit busy with tourists, but I didn’t mind because there was no traffic to worry about. The train ride was relaxing and had a wonderful view of the sea the entire trip. It was cheap and easy to explore on our own. Perhaps next time we will take a tour to Mt. Etna.