Sicily was one of my favorite stops on our cruise, and it also happened to be our first stop.
The island is only about 70 miles away from the southern coast of Italy, & our ship stopped at a port in Messina, the third largest city in Sicily. It's a strange place honestly, only because the landscape is a bit of an anomaly. It's a volcanic island, so the whole thing is pretty much one big mountain, but its beaches are sandy and the water is about as blue as it gets. You could go hike in the mountains, and then swim at the beach all in one day. Like I was saying, an anomaly.
We spent most of the day in Taormina, a part of Messina that I would say is comparable to Park City. The streets are old and rustic, and lined with expensive shops and beautiful bakeries. The Sicilians stand outside their shops trying to sell you tablecloths and pottery, and a toothless man kept trying to ask Chin how tall he was.
We ate lunch at Ristorante Nettuno, which ended up being one of my favorite meals on the trip.
As soon as we sat down they immediately brought us loaves of fresh baked bread and the BEST olive oil I have ever tried, and we decided to start our meal with some caprese. The mozzarella was a bufala mozzarella, which is authentic Italian, high quality mozzarella that is soft and gooey and melts in your mouth. Between the tomatoes, fresh basil, sea salt, and olive oil, I could have finished my meal right there and been happy as a clam.
But instead, I decided to keep on eating (what's knew?). I ordered for my secondo the red snapper that was caught that day, couscous, and grilled vegetables. There's nothing like getting a whole fish (eyes included) to tell you that your seafood is fresh.
We finished our day trip to Sicily with a stop in Castelmola, which literally means "castle on a hill." The town was secluded and small, with winding streets and a huge castle ruin at the top of the city overlooking Mt. Etna and Messina. Overall, a perfect start to our cruise (Chin even got to try a Sicilian cannoli).
Best Caprese salad of my life @ Ristorante Nettuno
If you ever find yourself in Sicily, go here to eat (the restaurant sits literally on the ocean, you won't be disappointed)
A view from the beach
Exploring and testing out the incredible views in Taormina
Some of the unique architecture and trinkets from Taormina
Paste Mandorla, an almond pastry native to Sicily
The fam after hiking up to the top of Castelmola
Up next, adventures in Athens!