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Mount Etna & Taormina

On September 1, 2012, we were already in Messina. 

We met the tour bus going to Mount Etna and Taormina.  The group was 8 people from the Carnival Breeze cruise ship – but it wasn’t a privately booked excursion (there are Carnival excursions you can book on the cruise ship).  We were the youngest people in the group.  Our tour guide was a man named Claudio.

Claudio told us some history about Italy.  The Sicilians felt separated from the rest of Italy.  They would go to head of families to get help or protection which is the start of the mafia.  It used to be really bad from 1960’s to the early 1990’s. 

Ivan and I didn’t have a chance to grab any breakfast since we were rushing.  The group stopped at a honey and olive oil place called Oro d’ Etna.  We were glad to have stopped here since there were free samples of the flavored honeys & olive oils.  I liked the berries honey and the onion olive oil.  We also got to try almond wine.

Mount Etna erupts every now and then which is good so that it doesn’t build up pressure and erupt a lot at once.  It erupted recently 3 weeks ago.  You know that an eruption is coming from the black smoke coming from the volcano and ash may come out. 

Our next stop was Mount Etna’s Silvestri Crater.  We got to walk around for 30 minutes. 

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To go to the main craters, you can take the cable car that goes up to 8,500 feet then a jeep (4×4) to 10,000 feet where the main craters are located.  Too bad we couldn’t do that since it’s a long trip.

We started driving towards Taormina.  I was looking forward to lunch.  We stopped by and saw a great view of Isla de la Bella which means Beautiful Island which was really beautiful.

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The group stopped at Taormina where we had 2 hours for lunch and sight seeing.  Ivan and I went to find the restaurant that Claudio recommended.  It was a warm day out.  We went to Grandluca.  Ivan and I shared the regionale pizza (tuna and onion) and the pasta con le sarde.  The regionale had way too much cheese and not enough tuna and onion. 

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The pasta was delicious with sardines, wild fennel, raisins and pine nuts. 

Later on, we tried the fresh cannolis at Roberto Lab. Pasticceria.  There were lots of postcards from many fans who loved their cannolis.  We had to try one. 

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It was simply delicious.  Before we’ve had cannolis and they weren’t fresh.  It’s so much better when it’s fresh. 

We walked around Taormina checking out the souvenir shops.  Ivan thought we should get another thing at the Roberto place.  We didn’t get another cannoli (which I wouldn’t have minded if we did!), but we did get another pastry with cream inside it which was also tasty.

We walked around some – didn’t have time to check out the theatre, but we’ve seen the one at Pompei which is probably better. 

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Taormina is a cute quaint  town. 

We drove back to Messina and stopped by the main square.  There was a church.  I saw this big religious thing and took a picture. 

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Not sure what it meant though.

Claudio drove us back to the ship.  Ivan bought a USB internet stick in Venice the other day.  It was only 9 Euros for the stick and 6 months of internet with 100 MB a day.  We weren’t sure how it was so cheap!  We used the internet.

Ivan and I went to the Past Guest Party which was alright.  We did get free appetizers and drinks.  They were passing out fruity drinks, but we asked for red wine and we did get it for free as well.  The party is pretty much an advertisement for all the boats and talking about the new Carnival 2.0.  I liked seeing the towel animals talk on the big screen.

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Ivan went to the jacuzzi and saw Mount Stromboli pass by.  I was doing art stuff and working on the blog – also Ivan didn’t tell me that the cool volcano would be passing by… Thanks Ivan!

I made a cool art piece with our nickname (like Brangelina) that Neal, Ivan’s brother, gave us.  It’s iJen!  I stuck this on our cabin door.

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We went to dinner and the boring Scottish people were the only ones there.  Ivan and I each had the study in sushi which is really small. 

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I had the French Onion soup while Ivan got the black bean soup.  We each had the tasty baked herb polenta.  We shared the fig, walnut and cinnamon cake which came with a great walnuty ice cream.

We left dinner early for the comedy show.  We saw John Lory who is so freaking funny.  We went to check out Malcolm Pitt who is a Lionel Ritchie impersonator.  He didn’t really look like him much, but he did sound like him.  It was a bit boring.. Ivan’s not really into Lionel Ritchie.

We went to the 10:45 comedy show late.  Tom Pepper was still on who is so painful to watch since he’s so boring and NOT funny.

We saw John Lory again who was once again hilarious.

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