Corso Umberto
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Hunting Cannoli in Taormina
Taormina is an ancient town, with an at-times Bohemian reputation (the writer Harold Acton once referred to Taormina as "a polite synonym for Sodom"). The town sits atop a steep seaside promontory roughly an hour or so south of the port city of Messina, along Sicily's eastern coast. The view from atop the mountain is truly spectacular, looking west down the Catanian Coast. The ocean is a deep Mediterranean blue, with a dusting of whitecaps along the surface. We can see a half dozen multimillion dollar yachts at anchor in the bay below, adding a dose of elegant luxury to the scene. Taormina of the 21st century is a wonderful town, populated by a proud people who, aware of their past, are eager to accommodate the visitors they meet on the street. Courtesy is a Sicilian custom, extended to tourists and friends alike. If you chance to find yourself in this part of the world, make Taormina an absolute stop. Plan for several hours, avoiding mid-morning through early afternoon (the times when the busses arrive). Take a leisurely stroll down the Corso Umberto (the main shopping and restaurants) and stop for a cannoli at the Cafe le Quattro Fontane in the beautiful Piazza Duomo in the center of town -- unanimously voted as the top cannoli in all of Italy by the four of us sitting at the table. Sit for a while, and just drink (and eat) Taormina in. But if you hear a deep rumble in the distance every once in a while, relax. It's only nearby Mount Etna, expressing its discontent.
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