The Final Chapter or “Oh, go home already! Haven’t you had enough magic happen?” ~Marie
May 22: Excelsior Palace Hotel, Taormina
Before we went to Taormina we took Maria to her brother Gaetano’s house in Catania, where she was to stay another 2 weeks! Her brother was very happy to see Maria after all these years! He invited us into his beautiful home where we met his wife and toured their apartment which was just lovely and filled with all kinds of beautiful decorative items.
Maria’s sister-in-law, Cettina, invited us into her kitchen and fed us in the true Italian custom, course after course! After about 2 or more hours we said goodbye to Maria and left her with her brother and sister-in-law.
From there, the remaining trio and our guide went to Mt. Etna, 6,000 feet up the mountain; the other 4,000 feet could only be traveled by cable car, and they were not running that day because of the wind. There was lots of lava rock on the hillside which depleted any vegetation where it formed. We walked part way up to one of the craters and Ciro & Deborah went up further. The wind was so strong Deborah felt she would be blown off the mountain!! The view from Etna is breathtaking!
We finally arrived at our hotel in Taormina late afternoon. We did the necessary check-in and put our luggage in our rooms. Once checked in, we then headed out on foot to the beautiful city of Taormina.
Taormina is a very touristy town; in fact, it was the first tourist city in Sicily. A German writer went there to write and that attracted other Germans to vacation there and take photographs which led to businesses opening up in the city. The first establishment was a German Bar.
We went to the Teatro Grecco, the theater where Il Volo performed their very first concert in Italy, July 20, 2014, and because it sold out so quickly, they added the next day, July 21, to the schedule. We sat on the concrete seats that surround the theater and watched workmen prepare the stage for upcoming events (an opera was going to be performed there soon).
After touring we went to town again, which was right outside of our hotel. We went through the three arches which separate one part of Taormina from another part – the old and the new. We went into shops and just walked the beautiful street. At the square we took pictures of the seascape and noticed small padlocks along the railing. Ciro explained that it was a sign of true love. Many years ago a young couple vowed their lifelong love for each other by putting the lock on the railing and tossing the key into the sea below. Ever since, many couples perform the same ritual along that railing.
Ciro told us we would stop somewhere special to have the best granite ever!! When we arrived there, Deborah said “Look where we are!! BamBar!! Ciro said, “you know this place?” and we said “of course, this was on our list of places to see, and Il Volo was here last year!!” We sat outside and Saretto (Saro) Bambara, the owner of BamBar, came to our table and talked to us for quite a while about the boys. We enjoyed every bit of the granite, and every minute of our conversation with Saro. Saro is very close to the boys and he took a selfie with all of us and sent it to Gianluca!
The inside of BamBar is filled with pictures of famous people who have been there… Il Volo, Michael Douglas & Antonio Banderas, Rosario Fiorello, etc.
We went back to the hotel and showered and dressed in our Il Volo shirts, then we went to Castelmole, an artists town way up in the mountains. We stopped at Turrisi Bar, which is famous for its penises! Yes, you read right – penises!! We had a drink there – Limoncello – as we admired all the, let’s say, figurines and artifacts!! It overlooks the sea and of course there are beautiful views. This bar is 4 stories high and we stayed on the second story and took pictures of the beautiful view while enjoying our drinks.
When we finished our sightseeing of the outskirts of Taormina, we went back to the town center for dinner. Ciro dropped us off at the edge of the other side of town and told us where he would meet us for dinner, but we couldn’t find the restaurant (thanks to the Limoncello!!) and Ciro was already there, curious as to our whereabouts (and even a little worried we think), when we finally found it. There are so many little alleyways (for lack of a better word) along the main street with so many restaurants that we couldn’t find the one we were looking for.
When we finally sat down at our table, all 3 of us in our IL Volo 2014 tour shirts, people throughout the restaurant noticed us. Three young girls at the table next to us started a conversation about our shirts and Il Volo and, of course, it went on the entire evening.
The best part of the night (for us Sicilians) was when the street singers appeared. We were so elated to have heard them coming our way, and when they got to the top of the street where we were seated, they saw our IL Volo shirts and came to our table.
THEY WERE THE SAME MUSICIANS/SINGERS THAT APPEARED WITH IL VOLO AT THEIR FIRST CONCERT IN TAORMINA IN 2014!!! This group serenaded us for quite a while, singing one of Ignazio’s songs, Quando L’Amore Diventa Poesia, and a few others!
After a superb evening, we went back to the hotel to watch the Eurovision contest. On our walk back, people on the street kept pointing at us and saying “IL VOLO.”
Because the lounge in our hotel had a large screen TV, we sat there to watch the contest instead of going to one of our rooms to watch it. Even though our sweet, talented young men didn’t win first place (everyone knows it was fixed) they are in first place in our hearts!!!
When the show was over, around midnight, Deborah, Joan, and Madeline hashed over the contest and finally went to our rooms.
This was a bittersweet day because we had to leave Sicily to go back to Rome for our last night; however we still had one more stop to make!
Hotel Monte Tauro – where the boys stayed last year for the Taormina concerts. It is a 5 star hotel with a phenomenal view of the sea! The hotel clerk allowed us to take pictures in the lobby and she even took photos of us sitting on the couches where the boys sat last year! This hotel is truly befitting our exquisite, classy young men!
Against our will, we drove to the Catania Airport for our flight to Rome. After going through security, Joan and Madeline headed up the escalator for the terminal. They couldn’t figure out where Deborah got to, when suddenly they saw commotion below them in the glass elevator, only to see that Deborah was stuck in the elevator!!… she couldn’t get the UP button to move and the door wouldn’t open for her to get out! It took 2 employees about 5 minutes to extricate her! While we felt bad for Deborah, we couldn’t help but laugh!
Once we landed in Rome we took a shuttle to the Marriott Park Hotel, which was beautifully appointed; everything there was elegant. Because Deborah is a Marriott Gold Elite member, the three of us were able to sit in the lounge and have drinks and food on the house, thus eliminating the need for dinner. (With Deborah’s VIP status, Joan and Madeline were able to enjoy other upgrades as well). Deborah, Joan, and Madeline sat around in the lounge eating, drinking, facebooking, and talking about the wonderful experiences we had on this trip.
May 25: The Party’s Over
After a wonderful complementary full breakfast, Madeline and Joan bid goodbye to Deborah to go to the airport for the flight back to Philadelphia. Deborah was taking a later flight back to Pisa to catch her flight to Elba d’Isola where she was meeting one of her sons, his wife and her 4 grandchildren for yet another beautiful vacation.
This was truly the trip of a lifetime, and as our guide, Ciro, titled it – “The Four Beautiful American Ladies for Il Volo 2015 Tour.”
We hope you enjoyed reading about our visit to Italy. For more information or additional photos please send a private FB message to Madeline, Deborah, Maria or Joan. Grazie!
Your trip was of what dreams are made. Thank You Maddie, Deborah, Joanie and Maria for allowing us to enjoy your fabulous adventure as you lived it! Like Gale Wall said yesterday, “.. You made the land and it’s people come to life for us..” ~Marie