Today we have our first port, Messina, but not until 11 am so the day starts off like a sea day. Best of both worlds?
I got up at 6:30 am and found my husband enjoying coffee and his book in the Windjammer while waiting for me to rise. I got my first coffee from Cafe Lattitudes.
By this time are are passing Stromboli which until the Captain talked about it yesterday I thought was just something you eat.
The sun was behind it so the shots are darker than I would like. This volcanic island has about 500 residents in two villages. We ended up seeing both as we passed. The volcano is still active and last erupted in 2014.
We decided against going to the dining room as the windjammer looked good. While sitting there Steve noticed my card wasn’t on my lanyard. Oh oh.
We backtracked my steps and couldn’t find it. I think it blew overboard when I was outside taking some photos.
We went to guest services and got another one made. I’m so glad he noticed before it was time to debark!
We got ready to go ashore and was at the Schooner Bar shortly before our group meeting time of 11;15; the ship was cleared about that time. Today was the first of the two private group tours I’d arranged with people on the Cruisecritic.com roll call.
We are taking the Godfather and Taormina tour given by Sicily with Mario. Mario was pretty easy to find in the area that shore excursions and private tours meet.
His Mercedes carries 12 but I had limited the group to 10. He gave us an overview of the sight right there before we loaded up and headed to our first stop.
It took an hour to get to the village of Savoca but what a scenic drive.
Once there Mario dropped us off right at the village square while he parked but not without leaving us with pastries to eat while he was away.
I had the cannoli and it was fantastic! It was a nice break after the very windy road to get to Savoca.
We could see a church up the hill. At the time I didn’t know we’d be walking up there.
The first sight was Bar Vitelli which was prominent in the Godfather movie and also serves as a great place for a restroom break.
Then we walked up towards the church. Along the way Mario told us about the plants, etc.
The scenery was incredible along the way.
The exterior of the church was used in the Godfather when you see the wedding party exiting it.
After getting good shots of the church we all headed back the same way.
First we stopped at a shop for an olive oil tasting. I didn’t care for it. But the next shop had a cart of baked goods.
There were free samples of the sesame or almond biscotti.
I bought a bag of the sesame for 3 euros. We met up (some people didn’t walk up the hill) at the square across from the Bar Vitelli where I noticed the art piece below.
Then after Mario offered water to everyone that wanted it we got back in the van to head to Castelmola where we’d have lunch.
Mario dropped us at the main square in Castelmola while he parked the van. The views were not too shabby as you can see above. We then started walking the short distance to the restaurant.
Mario had offered a choice of two restaurants. One has good seafood but not pizza and the other had good pizza but not seafood. I picked the former where we were able to have a table for ten.
La Taverna dell Etna doesn’t look like much from the outside but inside go to the outdoor patio where the views are stunning.
Looking to the left we had ocean view!
Steve ordered spaghetti bolognese (he had this multiple times on our trip).
I had eggplant ravioli.
We had wine, beer and sparkling water to drink.
Everyone enjoyed their food, the atmosphere and the companionship.
All too soon, we had to pay up and leave to fit in the rest of our day.
We walked back to the square where Mario picked us up to head to our next stop…Taormina. I’ll pick up the rest of our day in the next trip recap post.
If you missed the other parts of the recap the links are below.
Next Vacation: Greek Isles Cruise
Port Plans for Greek Isles Cruise
Jewel of the Seas: Pre-Cruise Travel Day
Jewel of the Seas: Italy at Last
Hotel San Giorgio
Pre-Cruise Day in Civitavecchia
Jewel of the Seas: Embarkation