Catania: Giardini, Taormina, and Castelmola Day Trip
- Duration: 5 hours
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We enjoyed our tour in general, but most of the time we were driving in a bus, taking the cable cart or driving in a mountain bus. Though we didn't need to stand in a line to cable cart or mountain bus for too long, traveling took way too much time. We had less than an hour up at 2900 meters and it was just enough to take a guided tour around a crater, but not enough to explore. All that trouble for a mere 45 mins up the mountain was a bit of a disappointment. Going higher up the mountain was of course forbidden. The mountain guide who walked us around one crater was very informative and multilingual. Our own guide was very pleasant, efficient and attentive. She spoke the whole drive up and down in three languages. The bus driver was amazingly skillful and drove that monster bus like a.. well.. a pro. We had cloudy weather so no breathtaking views down, but the summit was clearly visible from 2900 and we were quite pleased to see it.
The day was well organised with the bus picking us up promptly at Giardini Naxos at 7.30. Make sure you are early the bus does not wait for long! Following more pick ups from Taormina etc we were on our way and to our surprise stopped at a service station for 20 mins (I’m assuming as the driver needed to stop due to time on the road - as otherwise a very odd place to stop) in hindsight we would have however bought snacks as there was a lot of time between breakfast and lunch, especially for anyone like us who did not really have time for breakfast with the early pick up point. However they are the downsides the trip was totally worth it! Spectacular sites of the Greek theatre and the paradise caves were brilliant. And Ortigia was beautiful with amazing buildings to go view. Overall a great trip with our guide, Eva being very knowledgable, interesting and funny!
I absolutely loved the trip to Etna and Taormina. Despite half of our group opting for an English-spoken guide, our driver only spoke Italian. This wasn't a problem- as a group, we managed to get by. My one criticism would be regarding the pick up time. I had to chase for confirmation of a pick up time from the host the night before and eventually was told this would be 7am. However, when I left my apartment at 7am on the day, the driver waiting outside seemed angry- saying that I'd been keeping him waiting for a whole twenty minutes prior to this. Aside from that, we had sufficient time in both areas. 2 hours in Etna, which was just enough to get the cable car to the top and return. Then we had another 2.5 hours in Taormina. I had researched a lot in trying to find the most cost effective trip to Etna from Palermo, and this was by far the best option!
The tour guide Alexandria was great! She told different things along the way in Italian, English and German. We first went to Panarea, which was really nice. We had 2 hours to walk around and visited the prehistoric village. Next was de island Stromboli with the beautiful black beatches. Here we could walk around for about 3 hours. Our tour guide organised a little tour and showed us the highlights of the island. When we were on the boat again we went to the other site of the island and saw an amazing sunset and a lot of little errutions of the vulcano Stromboli. It was a really great day!
Etna was natural and beautiful and a bit of a challenge scaling, but well worth the effort . Toarmina was beautiful and the Amphitheatre is a real treasure. However the was made really great due to our guide and driver, Michael. He was very friendly, informative and gave good advice and tips about both parts of the trip. He was very punctual and gave us plenty of time and notice st Rach stop. Nothing was too much trouble and his conversation was also a nice distraction . Can’t give more praise fora great experience, Thanks Michael. From the Liverpool family