THE BEST WAY TO TAORMINA, ITALY
From LAX, connecting service (change of plane) to Catania is offered on Alitalia and Swiss. Restricted round-trip fares begin at $1,034, excluding fees and taxes. Connecting service to Palermo is offered on Alitalia. Restricted round-trip fares begin at $1,038, excluding fees and taxes. The airport in Catania is the closest one to Taormina. It takes about 11/2 hours to get there by either bus or train. If you arrive in Palermo, figure on a five- to seven-hour train trip or a three-hour car ride. Almost all streets in Taormina are closed to traffic. If you arrive by car, you need to park in one of the lots outside of town. If you are staying at the Grand Hotel Timeo, you can park in its lower garage near the Giardino Pubblico.
To call the numbers below from the U.S., dial 011 (the international dialing code), 39 (country code for Italy) and the local number.
WHERE TO STAY
Grand Hotel Timeo, 59 Via Teatro Greco, Taormina; 0942-23-801, http://www.grandhoteltimeo.com. The Timeo and its sister property, the Villa Sant'Andrea (137 Via Nazionale, 0942-23-125, http://www.hotelvillasantandrea.com), were recently renovated by Orient-Express, and both properties have enormous white marble bathrooms, terraces and balconies, and big windows with views of the Mediterranean. The Timeo is on a hill, within walking distance of the Greek Theater and the town of Taormina. The Villa Sant'Andrea sits below on the beach. There's a free shuttle between the two properties. The hotels are open April through October. Rates at the Grand Hotel Timeo begin at about $570 for a double room with full breakfast. Rates at the Villa Sant'Andrea start at about $426 for a double room with breakfast.
WHERE TO EAT
Bam Bar, 45 Via Di Giovanni; 0942-24-355. Go in the morning and catch locals having their breakfast granita and brioche. Go after dinner for a nightcap granita and coffee. Go anytime. Best granita in Taormina.
La Bougainville, 88 Via Bagnoli Croci; 0942-625218. This is one of the few restaurants in Taormina without a view of the sea, which means it must work harder with the food. Delicious fresh fish and pasta, and if you're lucky, the chef will be playing his guitar. Entrees from about $28.
Granduca, 172 Corso Umberto; 0942-24-9853. Head downstairs to this casual pizza restaurant, and if it's nice, sit outside on the terrace overlooking the Mediterranean. Pizzas about $17.
TO LEARN MORE
Tourism Board of Taormina, http://www.gate2taormina.com