August 21, 2013

Taormina: A Terrific Tour with a Terrific Family

The members of the Schappi family are all very different individuals, but we all share one trait: a stong streak of independence. At most ports of call, we each went off on our own. My son and his companion hung out together most of the time, as did my married granddaughter, her husand, and their two (and a half) kids. My other granddaughter, my grandson, and I set our own agendas.

Also on display during the cruise was the strong familial bond of affection and support. If one family member was undergoing any stress, the others rallied round to provide support. This mix of independence and togetherness is a perfect fit for this independent traveler.

Taormina, Sicily, was the only port we experienced as a group. For the whole day, we hired a van that could accommodate all nine of us. It was a fun day, which increased my interest in properly touring all of Sicily by car.

Here we are, all together in Taormina:

Thanks to my research and our excellent driver, we created a tour that avoided most of the tourists and buses . . . but gave us great views and food. We visited the beautiful park and gardens at the Villa Comunale, where we strolled and enjoyed the views with local families, not tourist hordes.

For lunch, we went into the center city, which was mobbed. But Frommer recommended a restaurant –Gambero Rosso – on a less crowded side street. This excellent restaurant could accommodate our mob of nine at a table of our own.

Here are our two members who shared "Best Traveler" prize. At two and seven, they handled time zone changes, jet lag, ship activities, and constant touring better than any of us. Plus, everyone on the cruise adored them . . . something that surely can't be said about the rest of us.

After lunch our driver navigated the steep winding road up to the village of Castelmola above Taormina for even more spectacular views . . . and not a tour bus in sight. Here's the view from Castelmola down into the warm Mediterranean:

Hiring a van and driver of our own wasn’t cheap, but it was worth it!

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