DAY 8: Palermo (Sicily), IT

7 July – Small Boat Tour

(Guide – TripAdvisor)

[On Shore times 0900 to 1645 (GMT+1]

ALL THE INFORMATION BELOW IS OUTDATED

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MESSINA (SICILY) HIGHLIGHTS: TAORMINA, MT ETNA, SAVOCA    

There are likely to be days when we have diverse wishes for our sightseeing. Messina is possibly one of them. The port is within walking distance of the town, and there are walking tours of Messina for those who don’t wish to drive anywhere. Another possibility is to visit the small medieval town of Taormina, which is known for an ancient Greek/Roman theatre, stunning views of the ocean, and chic cafes and restaurants. Both Disney and the limo company also offer a Godfather tour, which visits the small village of Savoca, described as beautiful and not too crowded, (though with a Disney tour bus in town, that might be questionable). Finally Mt. Etna is within reach, albeit long reach. Currently we have a reservation for a van and driver from RomeInLimo for any of us who wish to make an excursion outside of Messina. Disney also has excursions lasting from 3.5 – 7.5 hours. Once we have a sense of what individuals and groups want to do, we can revisit whether we need the van. I added some notes below about what I might wish to do on this day. I hope others will add their thoughts too. Obviously, we don’t all have to do the same thing, but it’s fun to know what others are considering. ~SK

Distances:

Port to Taormina = 50km

Port to Savoca = 43 km

Port to Mt. Etna = 98 km

Amelia’s list of potential activities/sights

  • 2 hour drive 
  • Messina Cathedral
  • Piazza Del Duomo (Cathedral Square)
  • Messina Bell Tower
  • Santissima Annunziata Dei Catalani (Church)
  • Taormina
  • Camposanto (Cemetery)
  • Torre Faro
  • Zona Falcata
  • Temple Christ the King (Church)
  • Chiesa Del Carmine (Church/ Farmhouse)
  • Fontana di Nettuno (Fountain Showing Neptune with his Trident)
  • Greek Theater
  • Galleria Vittorio Emanuele III (Historic Mall- Type Building)

Port Information

Other ships in port that day: None others listed on Cruise Mapper

Messina cruise port terminal is located in the heart of city downtown. The Piazza del Duomo is within easy walking distance. You can explore Messina old town on foot. Next photo shows Messina port’s cruise ship docking piers (no terminal building).

Available in front Messina cruise port terminal are taxis and rent-a-car offices. The rate of the taxi should be negotiated. The closest bus and train stations are located a mile from Messina cruise port terminal at Piazza della Repubblica. Via train or bus you can also visit Taormina (approx 55 km / 35 ml south from Messina).

Note from RomeInLimo: Our driver will wait for you right outside of the ship holding a sign with your name written on, please make sure your cell phone works just in case the driver needs to call you. D

Recommendation from Amelia and Sara

Limo excusion to:

Taormina and Greek Theatre. Drive along Sicily’s eastern coast to Taormina, overlooking the Ionian Sea. Visit the Greek Theatre with its views of the sea and Mt. Etna. “Originally built in the third century BC and reconstructed in a Roman style in the second century, this spectacular theatre is the second largest in Sicily, after the one in Syracuse. Today, the acoustics at the theatre are still extraordinary.” –Disney Website. View the Greek Theatre and spend some time in the medieval town of Taormina. Return along the coast at our leisure, with vista stops if we wish. If we have time, perhaps view sights in Messina before returning to the port. (Fontana di Nettuno – Fountain of Neptune)

Disney Excursions

There are other excursions on the Disney website, so if you are interested in rafting, boating, a beach, a winery, a walking tour with cannoli, Mt Etna adventures, or an ATV ride, Disney offers these. The following excursions have been noted by Amelia and/or Sara as being of interest.

https://disneycruise.disney.go.com/port-adventures/europe/list/sicily-italy/

 

Blue Grotto Adventure by Boat (MSN14)

Prices: $119.00

Activity Level & Duration: Athletic, 5-5.5 Hours

Cruise to such picturesque spots as Capo Taormina, Bay of Mazzarò and the isle of Isola Bella.

On this adventure you will…

  • Travel 75 minutes by motorcoach from Messina to Giardini Naxos.
  • Upon arrival, board a private boat and set sail through the bay.
  • Make a stop at the Love Grotto, followed by the Bay of Taormina and Capo Taormina.
  • Sail around the isle of Isola Bella before visiting the Blue Grotto and the Bay of Mazzarò.
  • Make a brief stop to enjoy some delicious almond cookies and other refreshments.
  • Delight in some free time near Isola Bella. If you like, you can even go for a swim.
  • Return to shore and travel back to your ship.

 

Messina Walk and Its Treasure (MSN16)

Prices: $74.00

Activity Level & Duration: Athletic, 3 to 3.5 Hours

Experience the port city of Messina on foot—learn about its fascinating history and visit some of the main attractions.  See the world’s largest astronomical clock, sample Sicilian refreshments, visit the Treasure Museum and wander through the university gardens.

On this adventure you will…

  • Meet your guide at the pier and begin your walking tour of Messina, one of Sicily’s most significant towns. Learn about the 1908 earthquake that completely destroyed the area and see the monuments that were recovered from the ruins. Throughout the tour, you’ll also have opportunities to stop and sample a few Sicilian specialties.
  • Head to the 12th-century cathedral at Piazza del Duomo, home of the world’s largest astronomical clock.
  • Visit the Treasure Museum to view the Golden Manta of Our Lady of the Letter, an exquisite sculpture dating back to 1668.
  • Walk along Garibaldi (one of town’s most popular streets) to Cairoli Square. Here, in the very heart of the city, you’ll find some of the town’s most elegant shops.
  • Continue on Tommaso Cannizzaro and pass the Law Court on your way to the University. Enjoy a stroll through the university gardens on your way to visit the 12th-century Catalani Church.
  • Walk back to the ship.

Godfather – The Tour (MSN09)

Prices: $99.00

Activity Level & Duration: Active, Moderate, 5 to 5.5 Hours

Immerse yourself in the classic film trilogy The Godfather on this excursion that takes you through the rustic villages of Savoca and Forza d’Agro.  A historical Italian village with stone paths, red tile roofs, old churches and cast iron street lamps Visit the locations of some of the movies’ most iconic scenes, including the famous Bar Vitelli and the church where Michael Corleone marries Apollonia.

On this adventure you will…

  • Board your motorcoach and journey to the ancient seaside village of Savoca, one of Sicily’s lesser-known and most attractive places.
  • Take a walking tour of the village, lined with villas and flowering gardens along its steep winding roads. See several historic churches, including the famous 13th-century Church of San Nicolo (or Santa Lucia), decorated with Byzantine frescos. You’ll recognize this church as the spot where Michael Corleone marries Apollonia.
  • Step through the beaded curtains of the famous Bar Vitelli to view a collection of photos and other memorabilia from the Godfather films.
  • Reboard your motorcoach and travel via a twisting corkscrew road from the coast to the charming hilltop village of Forza D’Agro. Dominated by a 16th-century castle, the village offers stunning views of the coast. You’ll recognize Forza D’Agro as one of the backdrops in the second Godfather movie, where a young Vito Corleone takes refuge at the Church of Sant’Agostino.
  • After your tour through movie history, reboard your motorcoach and return to the pier.

Scenic Messina City Tour (MSN01)

Prices: $55.00

Activity Level & Duration: Moderate, 4 to 4.5 Hours

Admire natural wonders and historical monuments on this eye-popping excursion through the ancient town of Messina.  Visit the city center to tour the Cathedral of Messina, home to the world’s biggest and most complex astronomical clock.

On this adventure you will…

  • Meet your guide and travel by motorcoach to the Piazza del Duomo (city square).
  • Pay a visit to the Cathedral of Messina to admire the world’s biggest astronomical clock.
  • Reboard the motorcoach and travel along Messina’s north coast, admiring views of Ganzirri Lakes, the Strait of Messina and Capo Peloro, the nearest point to the mainland.
  • Stop at a local bar for ice cream or coffee.
  • Return to Messina’s city center, passing by the Piazza Municipio, Via Garibaldi and the Piazza Cairoli.
  • Enjoy a quick stop at Cristo Re Church before returning to the ship.

Discover Taormina & Greek Theatre (MSN02)

The ruins of an ancient amphitheater with views to a European village

Prices: $85.00

Activity Level & Duration: Moderate, 5 to 5.5 Hours

Travel to the eastern shores of Sicily to explore ancient Taormina and the remarkably well-preserved Greco-Roman Teatro. Built during the Greek Hellenistic period, the theatre is one of the most breathtaking historical monuments on the island.

On this adventure you will…

  • Drive 60 minutes with your guide down Sicily’s eastern coast to Taormina, perched high on a rocky terrace overlooking the Ionian Sea.
  • Upon arrival, walk to Taormina’s historical area.
  • Reach the Arab-influenced Corvaja Palace, a magnificent structure dating to the 15th century. Continue to the spectacular Greek Theatre, beautifully situated with panoramic views of the sea, the countryside and the conical summit of Mt. Etna. Originally built in the third century BC and reconstructed in a Roman style in the second century, this spectacular theatre is the second largest in Sicily, after the one in Syracuse. Today, the acoustics at the theatre are still extraordinary.
  • Enjoy free time to explore at your leisure—browse the shops, stop at a café or wander the colorful alleys or just to sit in a café.
  • Return to the pier.

Mount Etna & Taormina (MSN18)

Late 19th century architecture standing near a snowcapped mountain

Prices: $99.00

Activity Level & Duration: Moderate, 7 to 7.5 Hours

Discover the dramatic scenery and ancient lava flows at the Silvestri Craters—then head out to the historic seaside town of Taormina to explore on your own. Visit the famed Greco-Roman Theatre, see the wealth of medieval monuments or browse the boutiques during free time in spectacular Taormina.

On this adventure you will…

  • Board your motorcoach and travel 2 hours to Mt. Etna. Pass through the villages of Santa Venerina and Zafferana Etnea along the way and note how the scenery gradually becomes more and more beautiful as you approach your destination.
  • Make a stop at the Silvestri Craters to admire the dramatic scenery and see the ancient lava flows. Enjoy views of the city of Catania, which was overwhelmed by an eruption 300 years ago. You’ll also have time to explore the lunarlike landscape independently and take photos before reboarding your motorcoach and driving 60 minutes to Taormina.
  • Arrive at the historic seaside town of Taormina. Situated on a terrace overlooking the Ionian Sea on the Eastern coast of Sicily, this popular Mediterranean sun spot still retains much of its medieval character. After your guide provides a few suggestions, set out to explore at your leisure—discover the ancient monuments, browse little shops or relax in a café.
  • Return to the pier.

Godfather – The Tour (MSN09)

A medieval stone church surrounded by historical buildings with red tile roofs

Prices: $99.00

Activity Level & Duration: Active, Moderate, 5 to 5.5 Hours

Immerse yourself in the classic film trilogy The Godfather on this excursion that takes you through the rustic villages of Savoca and Forza d’Agro. A historical Italian village with stone paths, red tile roofs, old churches and cast iron street lamps. Visit the locations of some of the movies’ most iconic scenes, including the famous Bar Vitelli and the church where Michael Corleone marries Apollonia.

On this adventure you will…

  • Board your motorcoach and journey to the ancient seaside village of Savoca, one of Sicily’s lesser-known and most attractive places.
  • Take a walking tour of the village, lined with villas and flowering gardens along its steep winding roads. See several historic churches, including the famous 13th-century Church of San Nicolo (or Santa Lucia), decorated with Byzantine frescos. You’ll recognize this church as the spot where Michael Corleone marries Apollonia.
  • Step through the beaded curtains of the famous Bar Vitelli to view a collection of photos and other memorabilia from the Godfather films.
  • Reboard your motorcoach and travel via a twisting corkscrew road from the coast to the charming hilltop village of Forza D’Agro. Dominated by a 16th-century castle, the village offers stunning views of the coast. You’ll recognize Forza D’Agro as one of the backdrops in the second Godfather movie, where a young Vito Corleone takes refuge at the Church of Sant’Agostino.
  • After your tour through movie history, reboard your motorcoach and return to the pier.

Taormina on Your Own (MSN04)

Prices: $64.00

Activity Level & Duration: Moderate, 6 to 6.5 Hours

Journey to the charming hilltop village of Taormina—see the main highlights, browse for treasures or soak up the local color in one of the many cafés. Late 19th century architecture standing near a snowcapped mountain.  Bask in the old-world charm of this ancient city, home of the famed Greek-Roman Theatre.

On this adventure you will…

  • Board your motorcoach and travel 60 minutes to the picturesque little town of Taormina. This ancient city overlooks the Ionian Sea on the eastern coast of Sicily, and despite becoming one of the Mediterranean’s most popular sun spots, still retains much of its medieval character.
  • Upon arrival, walk 15 minutes uphill to the historic city center.
  • Enjoy free time to explore on your own after your escort provides a few suggestions on what to see and do. Discover the monuments, browse the shops or take in sweeping views of the sea—it’s all up to you.
  • Return to the pier.

Disney also has a Sicilian Beach Excursion ($69)

Alternatives to Disney Excursion:

RomeInLimo Private Vehicle and Driver

Note about RomeInLimo: Our driver will wait for you right outside of the ship holding a sign with your name written on, please make sure your cell phone works just in case the driver needs to call you. We can shorten or lengthen the tour to accommodate your schedule.

http://www.romeinlimo.com/messina/mount-etnea-taormia.htm

The rate in Mercedes Minivan For your party of 8 is of Euro 600 (discounted from Euro 650)

Or as an alternative, our Godfather Tour (Savoca & Taormina)

http://www.romeinlimo.com/messina/godfather-country.htm

The rate in Mercedes Minivan For your party of 8 is of Euro 600 (discounted from Euro 650)

RomeInLimo Mount Etna Taormina Tour Description:

After you are greeted at the port you will continue to the bottom of Mount Etna. Here you may choose to take the cable car up the mount 2700 meters to see the summit of one of Italy’s active volcanoes. When you have returned to the bottom of Mount Etna your driver will be waiting to take you for lunch. Once you have completed your sightseeing you will continue up the coast to the ancient splendors of Taormina. The duration of the afternoon will be spent at the site of the ancient theater and surrounding area, before you are returned to the port at the end of the day.

RomeInLimo Godfather Tour (Savoca & Taormina) Description:

This day excursion is designed for those who wish to enjoy the countryside and surrounding villages where Francis Ford Coppolla filmed The Godfather trilogy. You will be greeted at the port and will continue to the town of Savoca, where the original Godfather was filmed. You will spend your morning sightseeing here, before you carry on for lunch in one of the medieval villages that surround the area of Taormina. You will continue sightseeing into the afternoon and will return to the port at the end of the day.

General Admission Prices and sundry costs:

Teatro Greco 10Euro (maybe less for kids)

Personal Notes

Notes from Sara: I was originally interested in going to Taormina in Sicily. It sounds charming and I love the idea of the ancient Greek theatre and sweeping views of the Sicilian coastline. The RomeInLimo standard tour combines Mt. Etna and Taormina, but I think that’s too tight for our port call. Disney does it, but it’s a long day. If some people want to go to Mt. Etna, I hope you will speak up and we can use the limo to get you there! (We can tailor any of the days with the car and driver to fit our wishes, within reason and appropriate distances.) I am still interested in Taormina, but not completely committed to it. I am also intrigued by Savoca, not so much because of The Godfather, but because it looks like a classic Sicilian village. I would also be happy taking a guided walking tour of Messina or poking around town on my own. My perfect day might include a short excursion with the driver to get a flavor of Sicily in the company of a local, maybe just as far as Savoca, or another village that the driver recommends….. then back to the ship to enjoy the Magic.

 

Notes from Tracie: My boss’ wife (is from Sicily) says to do tours not rely on the taxis. We don’t want to go to Mt Etna but like the Disney MSN02 destinations. I would like to do the Blue Grotto Adventure by Boat