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Catania and Taormina

Characterised by an awe-inspiring blend of Italian, east Mediterranean, and North African vivacity, Catania is not to be missed. Its chief attractions, apart from the view of Mount Etna  rising menacingly at the far end of Via Etnea, lie in its largely baroque centre-the Duomo, the Collegio Cutelli, the ornate Palazzo Biscari and the vast monastery of the Benedettini beside the huge church of San Nicolò. Via dei Crociferi, built on an ancient lava flow, is lined with baroque palaces, churches, and convents, and near it are the ruins of the Roman amphitheatre built from lava! After a quick lunch at a local cafè we proceed towards Taormina.

High on Monte Tauro and dominating two grand sweeping bays below, is Sicily's best-known resort. The outstanding remains of its classical theatre, with Mount Etna as an unparallelled backdrop, arrested passing travellers when Taormina was no more than a medieval hill-village.

Goethe and D.H. Lawrence are the two big names touted by the tourist office; Lawrence was so enraptured that he lived here (1920ˆ23) in a house at the top of the valley cleft behind the theatre. Although popular with tourists over recent years, Taormina still retains much of its small-town charm. The one main traffic-free street is an unbroken line of fifteenth to nineteenth-century palazzi and small intimate piazzas, and there is an superb ruined castle and rows of flower-filled balconies.

The Taormina's Greek Theatre (Teatro Greco) hewn out of the solid rock of Mt. Tauro, with spectacular views of Mt. Etna and the Ionian Sea, is itself a piece of theatre.

Full Day Tour (7 hrs)

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For timing reasons this shore excursion is only possible if your Cruise docks in Taormina.

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