Sicily to Sardinia

Last night in lovely Taormina. Went to a beautiful restaurant I had been to with Catherine and Margaret 5 years ago. Still lovely food. Probably one of the best meals we’ve had these holidays.

Had our passeggiata along the Corso and returned to pack and be prepared for the 6 am wake up call. The hotel offered to bring our breakfast to the room so we wouldn’t miss out. They are so kind here at Villa Schuler.

All went according to plan and we were waving good bye to pretty Taormina by 7 am. These villages are probably at their best this early in the morning before the crowds arrive. It’s cool, peaceful and inviting.

Goodbye Etna

We didn’t get lost and made the airport by 8.15 for a 9.30 flight and it took nearly all that time to check in and get through customs! Then we were called by name for our flight. The reason for that was that there were about 20 people on the flight. We had the plane to ourselves ! It took about an hour flying over Sicily and the crystal waters of the Medi to reach Sardinia and land at Olbia airport. It’s a very nice airport and shows that “wealthy” tourists come to play in Sardinia. We caught the bus to Palau and then a short ferry ride across to La Maddalena – a small island surrounded by crystal waters. Arrived around 1.30 and made our way about 1km from the port to our hotel, Miralonga .

view from the hotel

We are now settled in our hotel near the water for 7 nights, so we were able to unpack.
The weather is just beautiful – not as hot as it was, thankfully .

I’m surprised that our little island has quite a town centre and lots of boats. It’s just a short ferry ride from the coastal tip of Sardinia. The hotel is very comfortable with a nice terrace, doors that open wide and lots of places to put things! Fills a lot of my criteria for a good hotel. Had a walk throughout the village last night and its the usual lively scene in the piazza. The little boys in particular dominate with their shrill voices and “own the world” attitude.

Village of La Maddalena

Enjoyed dinner at Sottovento a little restaurant recommended by our taxi driver. Very good but I tell you eating out every night! Lovely but after a while you’re not sure what you feel like. NOT complaining!

Saturday Morning:

We’ve had time to settle in before all the other swimmers arrive. Our first meeting is this afternoon so it will be interesting to meet the group we’ll be spending the week with. I’m sure there will be a few alpha males there all trying to outdo each other in the swims each day. I just hope there is another 60+ slow female to make me feel good about myself. My face is still swollen from the jellyfish sting! Did I mention that? It happened at Taormina when we went down to the beach.

I was swimming merrily along thinking the people in their hired deck chairs would be mightily impressed by this lady swimming out so far, when suddenly I was hit on the right cheek (of my face) by an incredible sting. Went on my arm as well but it was the face that hurt. Managed to swim back to shore and finally Steve came back from his longer swim to find me red and swollen. I got onto the rocky beach when the lifeguard / deck chair hire man came to see if I was alright. He told me to rub it with sea water to make sure the sting was out. But that felt incredible! Then he disappeared to his hut and came back with a box that turned out to be bicarbonate soda. He said no fresh water, not ice. Rub with this. He poured it all over my face and I rubbed. It felt like sand paper! Steve the lifesaver was impressed (not) with the italian version of dealing with stingers!
We got back to the hotel and I saw the damage. Not a good look!

Now two days later its a little swollen, and has red bumps , blisters I guess, on the area of the sting. Hope it goes soon. But I have to say, it’s made me just a little nervous about swimming in the sea from tomorrow. If it happens again – I’m out! Steve said it’s happened once so law of averages says it won’t happen again! Mathematician!

We are having a quite day at the hotel, after a lovely breakfast on the terrace. We have been trying to guess if any of the other guests are some of the swimmers! Fun game trying to pick the swimmers. Mind you , they wouldn’t pick me for one I’m sure.

Spied Francesco, our guide for the swims working with a map to plan the route of the twice daily swims. 

Oh Boy , let the fun begin!

View from our hotel room
Ferry boat we arrived on passes our hotel
Nearby there is a little beach!

Agrigento to Taormina. Wednesday

View from our hotel at Taormina

Woke to the beautiful chirping of birds and the soft yellow glaze on the temples. Bliss.
Want to the downstairs terrace for breakfast prepared by our host Nello (he’s the one with the VERY trendy glasses). I’d heard his little scooter leaving around 6.30 and guessed correctly that he had gone to collect the pastries for breakfast. And how delightful was breakfast. Freshly squeezed orange juice, yoghurt then 3 types of pastry! One with ham, a croissant with marmelatta and another horn type with a pistachio ricotta! I duly wrapped some of mine to take for the day! Steve devoured his.

We went to settle the bill and found our cards didn’t work and then were 3 euros short to be able to pay in cash! Poor Nello. He was very gracious and said the beers from last night were on him!

Taormina piazza

We headed off for Piazza Armerina and the Roman Villa of Casale. What a villa it was. The villa has the most marvellous mosaic floors imaginable. There are 63 rooms and some are in such great condition you can see the design very clearly. It was all restored last year and is very visitor friendly. Each area is explained as you move around the villa on wooden walking platforms above the rooms so you can look down. The roofing has been either replaced with timber vaulted ceilings or is open. It is unsure when the villa was built and it was covered during an earth quake. Seems its about 4 th or 5th century AD! I’ll put the photos in a separate  post to do it some justice.

We left there around 1:00 and got to Taormina around 2:30. A good quick run and Steve pretty well stuck to the speed limit though most others around us didn’t.

more views

Did a (partly accidental!) circuit of the gorgeous town of Taormina before finding our Hotel which is just lovely with beautiful views to the coast. The greeting was warm and we were given iced tea whilst the porter got our luggage and parked the car. Good break for Steve as the parking is tight.

Went for an afternoon ramble. Saw the little pink tutu girls preparing for their performance.

Young ballerina preparing for the show in the ancient teatro

It will be a long evening for them as we think the show is this evening!

Climbed the stairs of the teatro and gasped at the view. I’m lucky enough to have bee here before with my sister Catherine and sister in law Margaret but the beauty of the place still takes my breath away.

Went strolling aln the Corso and once agaian Steve “won” the shopping. He bought a beautiful white linen shirt and I bought nothing!
Now he’s all set for Demi’s  christening (Bertie and Fabio’s new little daughter. We’re going to the christening in Lerici (near the Cinque Terre) in another 2 weeks . After the swim trek!

Our hotel from the teatro Top floor balcony

Our room on the 3rd floor is lovely – not overly flash but very very nice and comfortable and has a terrace with sun lounges and a view to the sea. I’m sitting on the trace with a glass of red writing this now – listening to a combination of birds, bells and orchestral music which I suspect is coming from the Greek theatre nearby – which despite its ancient beginnings still has concerts etc. This afternoon when we walked there we saw all these little tutu girls in pink with hair scraped back into buns dusted with glitter. They were followed by mommas with wheels suitcases with I guess a change of costumes. There was to be a performance of some sort of ballet and I can now hear the music. Would be lovely to go to a concert there.

Went out for dinner and passaggiata along the corso to the piazza and the wonderful lookout over the bay . Lovely way to finish the night

Scenes in a piazza at Taormina

Lifesaving in Sicily

I don’t usually let Steve onto my blog other than to do and edit for me!
But I’m including his email to his lifesaving friends on his analysis of lifesaving at a beach near Agrigento .

Greetings all!
I thought that you might find the attached photo of interest.
Whilst on our current tour, Fran and I were encouraged to visit what is regarded as one of the best beaches in Sicily – Scala dei Turchi on the Southern coast near the absolutely fabulous Valley of the Temples at Agrigento (but we will amuse you all with that place on our return at our slide night!).
Please observe the state of the raging surf – so dangerous that the good lifesaver on duty has seen fit to raise the universal symbol of a closed beach (the large red flag) on his well-equipped patrol tower.
Observe the said Lifesaver – noting that in their world a patrol consists of one – in his fine red shirt, emblazoned with the word “Salvataggio” – but the regrettable absence of any form of identifying (or protecting) headdress. We understood from a brief conversation that he was keenly waiting to see Craig and Jeff paddle past on one of their Sunday marathon paddles to Mooloolaba via someplace else on earth!
Our eyes turn to the aforementioned patrol tower. My heart leapt when I noticed that they still use the surf ski as an item of rescue equipment – until on closer inspection I realised that it was one of those plastic boats that fishermen use (and a suitably archaic paddle).
But it is not all negative. See at the base of the tower they have a unique method of storing their Rescue Tube – folded so that it bears an uncanny resemblance to an old fashioned life ring – no doubt intended to give reassurance to the older beachgoers.
As we survey the scene we can draw assurance of the capacity to perform rescues in all conditions, when we inspect what can only be described as a “variant” of our IRB. No doubt it has been finely tuned to accommodate local conditions; and we can only envisage it surging through the angry surf on its errand of mercy with our worthy lifesaver straining every sinew of his body while pulling on both oars to carry his cargo (of two more of those quaintly folded rescue tubes) to the struggling bathers in distress offshore.
And then we look just to the right of the rescue craft to see what was without doubt the most interesting thing on the beach that day. Notice the two knees forming a “V” on the green deckchair? The body attached to them was an absolute stunner!

Marine dei Ragusa to Agrigento – Tuesday

Outside Montalbano’s casa

Woke to sunny skies and went straight across the road for a swim. Cooler today with quite a wind blowing. Got in and did a swim with Steve but once again was put off by the waves! Bit fussy? Perhaps!
Packed and had breakfast . Never really very exciting at these place. Always light on the fruit and heavy on the breakfast cakes. Can’t be healthy can it?

Set off for my hero, Inspector Montalbano’s Casa at Punta Secca. It was just like in the TV show and there were a few other tourists having photos along with me. It’s set in a very small village and sits at the end of a small bay – where Montalbano swims each morning. I was sorry we hadn’t stayed here. Though the village was little it might have been lovely to be right at my hero’s house!

I was hoping to see him but Steve reminded me that it’s just on TV. I think he is so popular now that many Italian men are copying his bald head and calling it sexy! Which reminds me , the sexy Italian red pants for men are sadly not being worn his year! Is it too hot? Or have they had their day! Hope not as I rather like them.

Did not swim in Montalbano’s bay as it was far too windy so we just kept on towards Agrigento and wanted to stop at the Scala de Turchi – a beach where the white rocks run all the way down to the beach. We found it and had it been a still day may have swum but decided on a walk instead.

Steve was rather intrigued by the lifesaver so i’ll let him describe the scene a little later in the post.

Scala de Turchi

By 2pm we had arrived at our lovely B&B “Camera con vista” and what a vista – view, it has of the temples. The B&B is not in a village. It’s on its own down a road but the view to the park is wonderful   We are right on the Valley of the Temple. A good choice instead of staying in a crowded Agrigento . Our lovely host ( wearing the latest in glasses frames) told us the best way to “do” the Valley and we took his advice.

He suggested we get a taxi to the top entrance to the park and then walk down through the park ending at the bottom gate. Rom her it was a short walk back to the B&B. This was a perfect way to visit these amazing temples.  We had a great walk through these amazing temples and are now sitting on our private terrace , outside our huge room, having a refreshing beer and looking at the temples as we toast our luck in securing this place.

We decided we didn’t want to drive anywhere for dinner so arranged  Pizza tonight from a little local place. Haven’t had one yet!
So we got take away with take away vino rosso and we were set . We sat on our terrace and soaked up the view. see the view below –  romantic!

night view from our terrace

Sent from my iPad

Siracusa to Marine dei Ragusa Monday

Our lovely time in Ortygia – the island near Siracusa has come to an end. It was a lovely place for a few days and Hotel Roma was right in the centre of things.
Had breakfast outside the hotel and watched the small city of Ortygia come to life. Saw a little girl about 7 with a little pink dress and swinging ponytail running with her cheeky puppy. She ran up and down the piazza giggling and having fun. Dad stood nearby smoking and watching and offering encouraging words…. “Piano piano” slow slow!
Steve went off to collect the Avis car and I checked the luggage had been brought down and then we headed off.

Quite easy to navigate out of Siracusa and our first stop – for fruit and water was at a lovely holiday beach called Fontana Bianchi. It was fairly slow for a Monday with only a few swimmers. It looked really lovely and we nearly stopped for a swim. But we moved on- passing Noto where we had stayed the first night in Sicily. We arrived in Modica alto and even found parking but sadly the Cathedral was closed . We’d just missed it. It was standing high on a hill over looking the town which is divided into Modica Alto and Modica Basso. It’s Baroque in style and would have been lovely to see inside but – you miss one occasionally!

In the love seat in Ragusa

We continued on through rather nice countryside on a more minor road and came to Ragusa. It’s a really lovely place and we wandered the streets and even bought a book on Inspector Montalbano , one of my favourite TV shows and characters. It was all filmed around here and I almost choose to stay in his house which is really a B&B but decided on the slightly larger Marine dei Ragusa. I regretted this a little as it was quite a charming small village.

Fruit van outside the hotel

We arrived at a 4 star hotel! Well in their own mind it may have been,  but according to me ……. But it was opposite the water so we went straight down for a swim. Steve  did quite a marathon across the bay. I was a little more timid because there were WAVES . I thought the Mediterean was always still. Better be next week . Yes the swim begins next week .

I sat on our little terrace and watched the world go by and this little fruit van arrived and did a lot of calling out which attracted customers. He did a brisk trade.

Fun in the piazza at Marine dei Ragusa

We spent aperitif hour in the rather nice, though more modern piazza where the locals and the holiday makers all mixed together and everyone seemed to be having fun. We choose a restaurant with a view of the sea and finished as usual with a limoncello. Ahhhh and so to sleep.

Ortygia on a Sunday

Definitely had a slower start today. We’re staying at the Hotel Roma on Via Roma but in Ortygia ! And last night was party night in the town.

On the evening before we enjoyed a wonderful drink watching the street theatre / passing parade. We saw 3 nuns with v. comfy sandals. Three brides posing for photos, a man selling balloons, a girl on roller skates, a young boy fighting imaginary dragons with his sword, an African lady braiding hair and Micky Mouse!
All while drinking my evening Aperol spritz!

Piazza on a Sunday

For dinner we found a little “out of the way” Taverna recommended by the hotel. It was on a little piazza and setting up near by were part of the evening”show” in this case a lights and music festa. Lights were to be reflected into the wall of one of the ancient buildings. Took them ages and as usual the set up was more entertaining than the final show when it started an hour and a half later.
We enjoyed lovely food and shared a bottle of chilled white as the weather was so hot. We got to bed late after a great night.

So that’s why we were late starting today! Then it was coffee and a walk along the waterfront looking for the Avis car rental for tomorrow.
We decided to get the bus to the Parco Archelogico and see the Greek and Roman ruins. We had a long wait which gave us time to observe the locals. Interesting bunch!

The park was large and set up for the theatre that is presently on. If it had been opera we would have bought tickets as the setting in the Greek anfiteatro would be wonderful. But a Greek play! Not in the mood.The park was large and generally unkept and had absolutely no tourist friendly signs! Incredible. No maps, signs, nothing to help guide you around. We had our own guide book with a small section on the park but that was it.

Walked back through Siracusa crossed the bridge and had a drink at the first bar we saw in Ortygia . It is definitely the best place to stay. Loads of atmosphere.
Did a little shopping in the evening – Steve won the shopping for the day – 3 pairs of shoes!
Italian speaking going ok. Getting better each day.
Rest time now and then out for afternoon passeggiata and my Aperol spritz and Steve’s fav Campari.


Vincenzo , son of our driver.
Great shop selling lots of fish
Main fountain in Ortygia
We arrived in Ortygia from Noto with a driver organised by our host at the B&B in Noto. He was a lovely man and had his small son with him. I practiced my Italian with the little boy. Always good to speak to children. They don’t think you are so bad!
Our arrival into Ortygia was great. It’s a small island connected by a bridge and is just lovely. Our hotel,  the  ROMA was easily found and is right in the centre of town. Perhaps closer to the water would be good but we figured we wouldn’t be in the hotel all that much. And I was right!
Popular swimming spot in 35% heat
Local lads showing off!
In the back streets of Ortygia
Steve wandering the waterfront
Local swimming spot



Onto is a wonderful little baroque city with a magnificent cathedral.

We stayed at a wonderful B&B. It’s a big house and is now run by the son. His father had been a doctor and there Erene display cabinets set up showing the instruments he used in his practice.
An  over night stay here is a good idea to soak up the atmosphere.