Sicily to Rome

On Sunday morning, we said a lingering goodbye to Sicily via the high speed train to Rome.  It’s a long ride – 9-10 hours, depending on which train you catch – but we decided that views along the coast would make the ride worthwhile. We traveled in business class, which was very comfortable and fairly … Read more

Isola Bella/Taormina

Friday morning, we were scheduled to return the car at 9 am to the rental car office in Giardini Naxos (thank the goddess). Naxos, you may recall, was the original Greek colony, founded in the 8th century BCE by second sons from Naxos, Greece. Taormina was formed in the 3rd century BCE by refugees from Naxos … Read more

Mount Etna

Etna dominates the landscape in northeastern Sicily, looming above everything at ~ 11,000 feet, its elevation changing constantly with eruptions. Etna is an extremely active volcano – locals say they feel sad when it is not actively smoking and spewing lava. Instead of one central crater, Etna has many vents at various elevations, relieving internal … Read more


Each morning in Taormina began with this view. Taormina sits several hundred feet above the sea, buildings snuggled into crannies and crevices accessible through narrow sinuous lanes. (Not as narrow as Ragusa, thank the auto-gods.). Casa Manuel, our base, is located at just about the highest point in town, just below Chiesa Madonna della Rocca, … Read more


Perched on a rocky upcrop above Taormina is the tiny hamlet of Castelmola. We drove there for an evening stroll. A set of stairs (more stairs!) takes you to the reason people make the twisty-turvy drive up: a ruined castle with stunning panoramic views. Someone was burning agricultural waste in the valley below, so our … Read more