In keeping with last week’s theme, let me help to warm your bones on a chilly autumnal morning with tales of my not so long-ago summer travels to Sicily. We were lucky enough to be invited to Sam and Owain’s wedding in Sicily in July.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I am an anxious flyer. I like to give myself a full hour and a half to check into European flights, and two hours for long-haul. Si, on the other hand, likes to be the last one on the plane. Mission accomplished!
We arrived on Friday, early afternoon. After checking into our hotel, we took the cable car down to the busy beachside restaurants (known as lidos) of Taormina (to the north of Mazzarò), to grab some lunch. There was a really charming, down to earth vibe about the beach front. No pretentious posers, just a lot of young families and people up for a laugh. We had an incredible spread including pizza, seafood and of course some refreshing vino to wash it all down, overlooking the gorgeous bay.
That evening, we attended the rehearsal dinner, held at Ristorante Villa Antonio. We were treated to a sunset cocktail reception overlooking incredible views of Mazzarò, Letojanni and Isola Bella to one side, and the billowing Mt. Etna on the other side of the rooftop terrace.
Our hosts served a stunning three-course meal, giving us a good chance to sample the local cuisine and possibly, more importantly, wine! And of course, get to know our fellow guests 🙂
There were ‘no bears with sore heads’ in our room the next morning. Promise 😉 Regardless, we were on our A-game and pushed through, heading up to the beautiful cobbled street town of Taormina for some lunch and a nose around. We found a fabulous Sicilian restaurant down an alley, nestled amongst some cute art galleries. After lunch, we wandered around Taormina, which is perched on top of a hill that overlooks the eastern coast of Sicily and has incredible views of Etna on the horizon. The town was so charming with its busy boutiques, and market square overlooked by an old church and clock tower.
The time had arrived for Sam and Owain’s nuptials. Their ceremony and reception was held in the stunning grounds of the Belmond Grand Timeo. Guests were invited to make their way up to an intimate sunbathed roof terrace with sweeping views of the sea and Mt. Etna. This was a super sophisticated affair with an orchestra welcoming the beautiful bride up the aisle. The couple kept us entertained with a touch of humour, as they exchanged their vows in the idyllic setting.
After the ceremony, we all mingled at a cocktail reception on the lawn before being seated to dinner.
We had a late start the next day after the antics of the wedding the day before. Si and I slipped away for some alone time as the other guests departed, and took a boat out for the day. We made our way along the coastline, stopping in bays and diving into the crystal-clear water as we went.
That evening we had some sunset drinks on one of the rooftop bars overlooking the town. As we sat enjoying the views and our tipple, we noticed a crowd was building in the streets below. Peaking down, we heard the procession grow louder as a marching band started and the people on the streets began to sing and dance. We had stumbled upon one of Sicily’s many religious festivals, and before us was the vibrant celebration of San Pancrazio.
By recommendation of the wedding party, we headed to Ciampoli for dinner. We were treated to contemporary Sicilian flavours and gorgeous wine from the region. The views from the rooftop restaurant were incredible. I highly recommend checking this place out.
As our last day dawned, you guessed it; we headed to another of Sicily’s alluring beaches. Isola Bella is connected to Taormina by a sandbar, and in low tide, you can walk out to the island. We spent the day bathing in the sunshine and swimming in the cool azure waters.
With an early evening flight back to London ahead of us, we had time for just one more adventure. As the traffic drew to a standstill, and we looked nervously at our watches contemplating if we would make our flight, we realised that the wildfires caused by the extreme heat and the dry vegetation were making their way across the highway we were driving on! I’m pleased to report that a policeman redirected us around the fire and waved us on. It seems the locals are used to this kind of thing!
We were so thrilled to be included in Sam and Owain’s big day, and to have experienced the beautiful island of Sicily. Taormina is a superb town, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time there. For chilled out luxury lacking in pretentiousness, I highly recommend visiting. Accommodation can be quite pricey, try to book well in advance. For a touch of luxury book the Belmond Grand Timeo, Hotel El Jebel or The Ashbee Hotel.
Until next time, safe travels.
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