It was a short drive along the Motorway from Catania to Taormina. Although we had instructions on how to find our next accommodation, La Maison Blanche, it did not prove easy. The road from the sea up to Taormina was a series of hairpin bends, and we unearthed the entrance to their place on the 4th pass along the road - the sign was too small to be easily read.

Maison Blanche B&B

The marketing for Maison Blanche concentrates on the undoubted views from the main balcony, and the decor of the guest rooms.

The welcome we had from the owners was first class, complete with tapas and prosecco on the balcony

However our room (I think that it had the unfortunate name "Dog") looked backwards onto a rusty fence and a weed covered hillside. The room itself had nothing to commend it, and the view from the bed was dominated by a white fridge sitting on top of a table with electric wires draped around it. The furniture was not fitting for what the advertising suggested. Although there was a portion of balcony we could use, it involved a hike along the back of the house and around the corner to reach it. I have no idea if this room is regularly used. But it certainly was not worth 150 € per night. It was the worst room that we had in Sicily, and the most expensive

I was uncomfortable with their the public seating areas. I felt that they did not want us sitting in the main lounge. They did not, for example turn on the lights at night, I assume to deter guests

However it was a nice breakfast, and was a little like stepping back 50 years, as they had an Indian "butler" , as the lady of the house did not appear to actually do any work in the business

It was difficult to find, and was on a multi hair pinned road from the sea to Taormina, which made it impossible to walk out to a restaurant - it being pitch dark at night and the road having no pavement. I certainly would not stay here again

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Taormina is a hilltop town on the east coast of Sicily. It sits near Mount Etna, which you can see from the town. The town is known for the Teatro Antico di Taormina, an ancient Greco-­Roman theatre still used today. Near the theatre, cliffs drop to the sea forming coves with sandy beaches. A narrow stretch of sand connects to Isola Bella, a tiny island and nature reserve.

It developed as a tourist destination in the late 1700s with the arrival of artists from northern Europe.

The first hotel opened in 1874 and waves of tourists followed. There are fine elegant shops along the “Corso Umberto” with its classical music cafès and pastry shops. In many ways Taormina is like Capri. Elegant, exclusive, expensive - perhaps that was why I liked it.

The public gardens are the legacy of Lady Florence Trevelyan, a Scottish noblewoman who left Britain apparently after having had an affair with the heir to the throne (later Edward VII). She arrived in Taormina in 1884 and Lady Trevelyan married the mayor, Prof. Salvatore Cacciola. Cacciola gifted his bride with a parcel of land exquisitely positioned on a terrace overlooking the sea. Immediately Florence embarked on the creation of another garden, Hallington Siculo, “Sicilian Hallington,” in memory of her Northumberland gardening pursuits with her mother. Florence’s horticultural  efforts remain most intact in the northern end of the garden, where there are plantings of native species  interspersed with exotic, tropical flora flourishing  in a nucleus of trees – olives, pines, cypresses, palms. Most astonishing here, however,  is her collection of “Victorian follies,”  eccentric  pavilions constructed  from what appears to be architectural salvage – stone, brick, pipes, bamboo, lava rock, pieces of lumber. The garden became the property of the town in 1922


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Rosmarino Restaurant

A family run restaurant, that really is family run. In other words the family are there working every day, and not sitting at home and letting staff get on with it.

We were warmly welcomed, and helped to choose food and wine. They came round with a tray of "fresh fish of the day" that looked so fresh that I changed my mind and orders a fresh calamari from it. I was recommended a very good Sicilian wine.

We enjoyed all our courses, and appreciated also the level of service and enthusiasm that the family offered.

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La bottega del formaggio

A great wine and cheese platter, .but I did not think the welcome we had from staff one lunchtime was very warm. The lady in the front shop was dubious about taking us, and referred the matter to the waitress in the back. Our custom was then, seemingly grudgingly, accepted. When ushered into the back area with the tables, there were no other customers., though some arrived later

Anyway that was the bad bit. Once ensconced with wine and the platter, it was extremely good. The quality of both meats and cheeses, were, as you would expect from a deli, first class. I would certainly return, and hope for a warmer welcome next time :-)

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Amphitheatre at Taormina

The ancient theatre is built for the most part of brick, and is therefore probably of Roman date, though the plan and arrangement are in accordance with those of Greek, rather than Roman, theatres; therefore it is supposed that the present structure was rebuilt upon the foundations of an older theatre of the Greek period.

With a diameter of 120 metres (after an expansion in the 2nd century), this theatre is the second largest of its kind in Sicily (after that of Syracuse); it is frequently used for operatic and theatrical performances and for concerts. The greater part of the original seats have disappeared, but the wall which surrounded the whole cavea is preserved, and the proscenium with the back wall of the scena and its appendages, of which only traces remain in most ancient theatres, are here preserved in singular integrity, and contribute much to the picturesque effect, as well as to the interest, of the ruin.

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On to Cefalu

Our Sicily Holiday