I have been a very naughty blogger.
It's been almost a week and nothing! I must confess, it isn't entirely my fault. Magro's step dad (from whom we steal our internet connection) has just come into the possession of the hugest, sleekest and most beautiful Mac I have ever seen. Which naturally munches the internet up like I would at an all you can eat buffet.
This does mean however that I have a lot to get through so hopefully the next few days will be a whirl of posts!
Another update, I think I may have received my first kind-of-invitation to go check a restaurant out. But I'm not 100% sure as it was a rather cryptic tweet in Italian. Even Magro didn't really understand. Oh well. I'll go on down and see what it's all about.
Meanwhile... more Sicily!
We boarded the train at Catania and I got my first glimpse of the sea! Evidently they haven't made the best use of their proximity to the Med (where's the beach?!) but I was just so happy to see it after all this time trapped in the mainland.
The station at Taormina was beautiful, old-fashioned and a little gothic. Just metres away from the sea, there was only fresh air, a salty breeze and the pounding of waves to keep us company.
I absolutely fell in love with this old abandoned hotel opposite the station. I just couldn't stop looking at it and wondering what was inside and waiting just beyond those boarded up windows and half open doors. The whole place felt full of the ghosts of a nostalgic, sunny heyday (a little like my dear old hometown, Margate!)
We hadn't come to gawk at stations and abandoned hotels though. When the bus finally arrived, it took us up, up, over the hills and far away.
Taormina is one of the more famous sights in Sicily in case you didn't know. I certainly didn't but when I instagrammed a picture of the ruins, a lot of other people did!
When we set out that morning, Catania had been swelteringly hot for early February (not helped by our mad dash to the train station) so I'd left the coat at home. This turned out to be a bit of a mistake. As it began raining. In Sicily. Magro had been more sensible and come equipped with his trusty Jack Wills duvet.
But nevermind, the old Greek amphitheatre was so beautiful I didn't mind the rain at all.
Afterwards it was time for a little stroll through the town. Most of the shops were closed as it's off season at the moment but I imagine this place is absolutely swarming with visitors come the summer!
Just look at that delicious blue sea! Couldn't you just dive right in?
Taormina was beautifully picturesque but as with all tourist hotspots, the food front looked a little lacking. Most restaurants were either cheap tourist traps in prime locations offering suspiciously stale 'authentic Sicilian dishes' or expensive tourist traps charging €10 for a margherita (note: never pay more than €5 for a margherita in Italy unless you're convinced it's something special). Giorgio, Magro's Dad, was in the mood for a snack rather than a sit-down dinner and we weren't hungry either so we followed Giorgio's Sicilian-born nose and tracked down a slice of authenticity amongst the tourism.
Real, bloody good arancini.
In case you are unfortunate enough to not know what an arancino is, it is a deep-fried ball of risotto with a cheesy centre. It normally contains ragù but Catania's version has aubergines, tomato and mozzarella yummy!
Wondering what that green stuff is? That's an arancino filled with mozzarella, wild fennel, raisins and sardines! Absolutely mind-blowing stuff. Look at that oozing. Who could resist? Even Giorgio was impressed.
It was at this point, when I uttered "Questo è il (insert food item here) più buono della mia vita!" for the umpteenth time this week that the 'Best Food Ever' list was invented. Basically, they were laughing at me because I'd found a lot of best evers that week so I started a list to keep a record. The fennel and sardine arancino is obviously the best arancino ever.
And if you want one yourself, you're gonna have to stop by Da Cristina in Taormina. It's just down a little alleyway off a piazza and has a couple of handy benches nearby too.
After stuffing myself with two Whole arancini, it was time for another walk around and a mooch in the Church. But my overstuffed stomach yielded before long; it was cannolo time. Unfortunately the only place open that was selling cannoli was a cheap tourist trap and the cannoli were not freshly made. I learnt a lesson that day but it looked pretty anyway even if I did end up throwing it away (I'm sorry!)
A gorgeous day, finished with a snuggle back at basecamp with the pooch.