Tiramisu Restaurant and Pizzeria, Taormina

Our Sicilian landlady Antonia and the trusty Lonely Planet, both recommended Tiramisu restaurant in Toarmina so Zorba and I were keen to check it out. 

We arrived about 8:45pm for dinner and the waiter looked doubtful when we said we didn’t have a reservation.  Nonetheless, we were seated at a table for two near the stairs.  The setting was lovely and I immediately noticed that there were stacks of Italians in there and not that many tourists.  The area had tree-size leafy plants in large pots scattered around the restaurant, a partially covered terrace, fine cloth napery, and lovely big wine glasses.  Oh a little bit of posh I do like!

As Zorba and I had grazed with the family earlier at another restaurant that they went to with the kids (Indi 5 and Sam 3 years old), we weren’t totally famished.  We decided just to dive straight into mains.  The linguine alla scoglio with scampi, prawns, mussels and calamari (for two) sounded beautiful.  And it tasted beautiful too.  I love the way Italians can cook pasta properly – al dente.  The sauce was seafood delicate and the sauce had a lovely depth of flavour to it.  It was just so tasty!  Really, really good.

Linguine alla scoglio – delicious seafood linguine

We didn’t follow normal dining protocol and washed it down with a bottle of red rather than the text book white that is said to go with seafood, a Sicilian Nero D’Avola, which was also very good.

Well, the second bottle was good. The first bottle I ordered came to the table and it wasn’t the one I ordered. A Nero D’Avola it was, but it was from a different winery. When I quizzed the waiter about it as he was opening the bottle, he said that it was the same grape variety and that the other one I had chosen was finished.  Hmmm, I didn’t like that. He should have alerted that to me first before just going ahead to open the bottle, don’t you think?  I enquired about the price and he assured me it was the same, 16 euro per bottle.  Va bene.

The nice Nero D’Avola

When I tasted the wine however, it wasn’t nice. It was sharp, acidic, and didn’t taste like it could open up and be a lovely smooth easy drinking vino after some time airing. In fact, there was nothing at all pleasant about it.  I passed my taste remains to Zorba who concurred. I told the waiter that it wasn’t good and invited him to pour himself a taste in a clean glass to see for himself. He did just that and took the glass as far up as his nose and put it down again without tasting the wine.  He promptly apologised and brought another bottle – a Sicilian Nero D’Avola from a different winery.  A lovely one.  Hurrah!

Despite the wine mishap, the service was professional and efficient, the prices were reasonable, the setting was lovely, and our meal was delicious!

FACT FILE

Tiramisu Restaurant
Via Cappuccini 1, Taormina
Tel: +39 (0)942 24803

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Trattoria Don Ciccio, Taormina

This gorgeous little trattoria off a side street from the main pedestrianised drag of Taormina has cute little balconies that step down to follow the gradient the of the sloped street.

It was 11pm when we sat down for dinner.  Yes, 11pm.  But after the huge day of travelling, the transfer from Catania airport to Taormina, the check in process that seemed to take forever, then the walk to the funicular up to Taormina, and then the lap of the hill top town we did before finally choosing a restaurant.  No wonder we were knackered!

Trattoria Don Ciccio did not disappoint us for our first dinner in Sicilia.  My feet were aching and it was a relief just to sit down.

I was delighted to see caponata on the menu – I’ll have one of those thanks!  Caponata is cooked a little like a ratatouille but has eggplant, pinenuts, raisins, and a agrodolce sauce – sweet and sour.  Zorba and I shared it as a starter and the memories the taste brings back makes it one of my most favourite Sicilian dishes.

Zorba wanted pasta for dinner because his favourite pasta con sarde (pasta with sardines) was on the menu.

It was a hard choice for me, in the end I chose a fresh pasta dish typical to the area, pasta campanelle with mussels, zucchini, and mint.  It was a combination I’ve never tried before, and one I want to try again and again.  The mint was fresh and it goes so well with zucchini.  The fresh pasta was made and cooked perfectly, absolutely delicious.  Buonissimo!

This was washed down with a very quaffable carafe of house red wine.

For dessert, we decided to wander down the street and have a gelato – this was around 12.30am. Surprisingly, some of the shops were still open and if I wanted a new pair of shoes post midnight, this wish could be accommodated in Taormina.  We stumbled in the door totally full and spent around 1.15am.  ‘Twas a really wonderful first night out in Sicilia.

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Dreaming of this villa

In two weeks, Zorba and I will be leaving for Italy. It’s so close now I can almost taste it!  I’m dreaming of this villa in Taormina in Sicily where we will be staying.

The whole family will be staying at this villa all together – all eight of us, including my little five year old niece and three year old nephew.

Sadly, this villa is not for our own exclusive use, we have to share it with others in the resort. As they say, sharing is caring… Ciao for now!

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Our little Sicilian home

Driving from Siracusa to a holiday apartment in Calatabiano near Giardini Naxos was easy with the Tom Tom.  The apartment, which the lovely Maria showed us around before leaving us to it, was a near-new construction and very well appointed – a big master bedroom, good size second bedroom, TV, full size fully equipped kitchen, a washing machine (yay!!) and a massive terrazza or roof terrace that looked out towards Calatabiano Castle on one side and Mt Etna on the other.  A lock up garage was a bonus to protect our little Fiat Bravo when parked at home.

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View from the roof terrace: Mt Etna on the left, the town of Calatabiano on the right.

We were looking forward to buying some local produce and cooking.  I was also looking forward to showing Zorba around Taormina, the ‘Amalfi Coast of Sicilia’ as it is sometimes referred to.  We took the Bravo and drove 20 minutes along a twisty windy road to Taormina.  Then the head ache of having a car began when we tried to find a place to park.  In the end we ended up parking in a big paid car park half way down the cliff from where Taormina is perched and walked up 6million stairs to the top.  No joke. It was stair city.  I kept telling myself it was good for my quads…

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Taormina was pumping on a Sunday evening with every man and his wife, kids and dog out for the evening passagiata, or evening stroll.  The purpose of passagiata, which takes place every evening between about 7pm and 9pm, is to get dressed up and slowly stroll up and down the main street checking out what everyone else is wearing. It is FANTASTIC people watching and something Zorba and I have both really enjoyed doing.   The designer shops in Taormina were all open, so that meant more sitting on the steps of a monument for Zorba and some browsing in shops by me.  I have been so good this trip and hardly bought a thing.  Probably because my back pack is too heavy as it is and I HAVE to find a way to get the weight of it down.  Not sure how that can be achieved just yet…there’s not that much I’m carrying that can be sacrificed… my hair straightener maybe?  Cry cry – I think it is going to have to go… and so are some of my toiletries.  I love my STUFF but hate lugging it all around… sigh – shall stress about that at the end of this trip when I wont have big strong Zorba around to help me… cry cry, makes me sad to think about that too…

Anyhooo, back to Taormina…

It is a beautiful ancient walled city with gates at each end of the historical centre, where all the action’s at.  It is also an expensive little place – like Positano.  We had dinner in a little restaurant just outside the city walls, situated on a second level on a terrace, called La Siciliana.  Zorba had homemade pasta with spinach and ricotta, and I had pasta with prawns and saffron cream.  Quite nice.  The outdoor setting looked lovely, but in reality we were the dinner for all the mosquitoes around that chose to dine on my bare legs!  It was hard to enjoy dinner when every few minutes I was reaching down to slap a mozzie!

After dinner, the passagiata crowd had dwindled right down, and we stopped for a cannoli before heading to our home to that apartment.

While we stayed at the apartment, we spent time hanging out at Giardini Naxos, a living seaside town that seemed to missing the usual tourists this time of year attracts.  There were many free public beaches available and we made use of those, topping up the tan and chilling out.  There were also heaps of restaurants on the beach front promenade with big TVs showing the world cup games.  Yay.

Dancing seems to be popular and one night in Giardini, we watched a ballroom dancing competition in the main piazza by the Church of St John the Baptist.  It was great!  By the time we saw all the action in the piazza, it was after we’d had dinner and on our way home – it was 11pm yet there were heaps of people out.  Loads of old pensioner types, loads of families, loads of young ones.  There was some freestyle dancing on an open dance floor, but that ended just as we got there and the dancing competition started.  They had to do all sorts of different dances, samba, tango, foxtrot, waltz…etc.  We both enjoyed watching it.

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We made friends with a butcher in Giardini who sold us the most delicious pork and tomato sausages and very tender steak.  A big rump steak that fed both of us twice, cost 5 euro. That works out at 1.25 euro per serve or A$1.70.  Cheap as you like, and good quality too.   We pay for too much for food in Australia, particularly in Perth.  In the local supermarket, they sell pure alcohol!  100% pure alcohol!  It too was cheap at 5 euro for 750ml. I wanted to buy some and send it to Nonno so he can make proper limoncello!  But I didn’t, since it’s highly illegal. 

Giardini Naxos was also the place where we have had the best ever cannoli to date.  A little pattisceria on the road behind the beach promenade road made them fresh to order.  Absolute heaven.  Sweet velvety ricotta filling dotted with little chocolate bits, stuffed inside a crunchy open ended shell with pistachio and candied fruit decorating the ends.  Oooooohhhh yeah!

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We had some lovely meals on the terrazza under the stars.  From fresh pasta (that I bought, not made!) with tuna, capers from Lipari, olives and tomatoes, to antipasto with different cheeses, salamis and cured meats, buffalo mozzarella, marinated anchovies, and the tastiest tomatoes you have ever had, and not to forget the fresh and absolutely delectable pork and tomato sausages with crisp salad, and rump steak with marinated zucchini and parmesan and rocket salad.  We bought little roma tomatoes for 0.55 euro per kilo!! That’s about A$0.80 oh so cheap!  We ate well when at home! Zorba keeps telling me I’ll  make a good wife one day…!

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The terrazza was a great escape from every day life in the apartment building. Not many other residents used their roof terraces, so often you would have no one around you and the sounds of life going on below would be subdued.  The roof terrace was my favourite part of the apartment. 

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Love Lipari – a day of adventure

Zorba and I love the little island life.  Lipari is the biggest of the Aeolian Islands off Sicily’s north-west coast.  We booked into the very comfortable yet affordable Diana Brown B&B at 50 euro per night, initially for two nights.  After the first night, we extended our stay by another two nights.

Just as we stepped off the ferry, the Azzurri’s last world cup game was being played.  All the bars on the main street had multiple TVs out the front and the place was packed with passionate Italian football fans.  Italy sadly lost that game and at one point I thought a riot was going to break out when Slovakia scored their second goal and the score was 2-0.  Chairs were almost hurled at the TV, fists pounded tables, loads of boo-ing and sounds of disbelief and disappointment.  Then Italia came back with a goal and the sounds of excitement started to rise.  Then the nail in the Azzurri’s world cup coffin came – Slovakia scored a third goal and half of the Italians watching the game got up and left, in a huff, not caring that there was still 20 minutes of play to go.   It was quite a sight!

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We booked ourselves into a boat tour of nearby islands Panarea and the famous active volcano, Stromboli.  Zorba really really wanted to climb the volcano, giving me the option to chill out on the boat, or join him.  As I’ve done the boat tour before, i decided to do the climb and had a couple of days to psyche myself up for it, and go shopping for some appropriate trousers to wear.

Dinner on our first night was at La Pizzetta da Nino Subba, a restaurant tucked away from the main street that seemed popular with the Italians.  I had the most delicious involtini di pesce spada – or rolled stuffed sword fish – ever.  Soft, succulent, firm, tasty – sensational.  We had a caponata di Lipari – or Liparian style sweet and sour eggplant which was really good too, one of the best caponatas I have had in Sicily.  A great dinner.

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The next day we were up reasonably early and decided to walk to the beach, apparently 30 minutes away.  It was longer than 30 minutes and I should have known better than to trust anyone in Italy with times (or distances).  The walk did us good however and we were quite impressed with what we saw.  The beach was nice and we decided to go home (to Diana Brown), get organised and go back to the beach for the afternoon.  Two lettini and an umbrella cost 13 euro, about the same price as Positano, and we enjoyed a blissful relaxing afternoon snoozing in the sun.

For dinner we went back to the same place, La Pizzetta, because we both wanted to try the long thin pizza we saw other diners having there the night before.  The long pizza had different sections of fillings – the first 5th had olives and capers, the second 5th had soft cheese, the third had mushrooms, etc.  It was really good!   We ordered bottled wine instead of house wine this time and fell into bed happy and full.

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The following day was the boat trip to Panarea and Stromboli.  Panarea is very pretty and looks just like a beautiful Greek island – white washed walls, blue shutters and doors on all the houses and electrifying colour beaming from the over hanging bougainvillea. It is lovely.  Last time I was there with Donna in 2008, we had the best seafood pasta I have eaten, ever. Zorba and I tried to re-live that gastronomic moment by ordering that pasta from the same place. It was good, delicious in fact, but not the world’s best that day…

Panarea is the island of the rich and famous resulting in lots of great boutique shops. I went to one and saw a sale rack. Oh goodie!!  I picked up these balloon pants (all the rage in Italy at the moment) and they felt like silk, but were priced at 15 euro.  I asked the cute little shop assistant if they were silk and she said yes and showed me the tag, explaining that they were cheap because they were the last pair in the store.  I tried them on and they were like wearing, um, silk. So soft, so comfortable, so light, so mine!  Yay!  A new purchase! I’m hoping they will be good for Egypt, the next major destination of my journey after a short stop in London.

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On our way to Stromboli, we went past a boat party – 4 boats tied together with a heap of young things in bikinis and boardies dancing to Black Eyed Peas “I got a feeling” – it was like a music video, a Brittney Spears clip!  A part of me was wishing I was 20-something on that boat dancing and drinking with them… oh to be young and dumb again…!

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It was time for the Stromboli mountain climb. I was very hesitant, Zorba was very excited.  I knew I was in for a world of pain that would last hours and hours, but that didn’t deter Zorba, nor me for that matter. I wanted to have a crack climbing the mountain and knew that with Zorba next to me, I’d be ok.  Three hours up, two hours down.  We had to bring a change of t-shirt, warm clothes, long pants, a big bottle of water, picnic dinner / food to eat, flash light, hiking boots (the last two items are available for hire).   Up we trekked.  It was not the slightly inclined meandering walk some had said it was.  It was sheer hard bloody work and oh-so steep. We were climbing over lose rocks and along narrow paths – one foot wrong and you would go tumbling down the mountain.  The safety standards did not exist and it made me very nervous.

I was thankful they made me rent hiking boots, my little merrells whilst comfy, would not have cut it.  And I was also thankful for the long bamboo walking stick I had that I used to haul my butt up that frigging mountain.  At one point at the start of the climb when the sun was still beaming down on us, I thought I was going to pass out. Then our guide Marco said it was time for a “pausa”, a little break, and that saved me.  Breathe, breathe, breathe, some water, some nuts, some more water, ok, my heart rate was down to a non-dangerous level and I was ready to go again.  This went on for three hours.  Three HOURS!!!  If I’m not 2kg lighter after this, I’m calling for a refund!

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I mean, if they can build a path with rails on Uluru (Ayers Rock) that is a sacred site, surely they can build a path and put up hand safety rails up a mountain?  I was surprised that anyone who paid the money could participate in climbing Stromboli, to me, it is dangerous.  But I did it!  We did it.  Exhausted, hurting, aching, and bruised, we did it.  It was freezing cold up there, but we did it.  There was a full moon and as the sun was setting the moon was big and orange, just beautiful.  I got to see the volcano explode four times from its three craters from reasonably close proximity.  It’s fair to say that I will never see anything like that again in my lifetime.  I sure as hell won’t be climbing any more mountains again in a hurry either!!!

We got back on the boat at 11pm, utterly spent. Destroyed.  And the trip back to Lipari took forever, and it was freezing cold.  Urgh.  Eventually we got home, had long hot showers – they had to be long as the water pressure was non existent at Diana Brown, despite the nice new bathrooms. We fell into bed at 1am. 

The next day we did nothing.  Lazed in bed, wandered down the street to get some food, relaxed on the sun chairs on the roof terrace, napped, and just chilled out.  We did make the effort at 4pm to go out and watch the England game. How disappointing!!  I can’t believe I was cheering on the poms and they got thrashed by the Germans 4-1.  A beating!! The poms had very poor refereeing too, just like many teams had in the tournament, so I felt sorry for them. I was so hoping Germany would go down.  I am still dark after they beat Australia 4-0 in the opening game.

Still aching and hurting from yesterday’s climb, we had an easy night.  Ready to head to our apartment near Taormina next.

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FACT FILE

Diana Brown B&B
Vico Himera, 3
Lipari ME 9805Italy

info@dianabrown.it
T: +39 
090 98 12 584
Mobile: +39 338 64 07 572

http://www.dianabrown.it

 

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