This was the best day of the entire trip. We had met friends on the ship who had a referral for a tour guide. We happened to be in Messina when the G7 Summit was going on, so a bunch of ship excursions had been cancelled. Our tour guide was incredible. First, he brought us up to Mount Etna, which was kind of active while we were there, and then to Taormina to a beach for lunch, where we luckily saw the fighter jets doing a show for the G7 and got to drive past where the meeting was being held as the leaders were eating lunch, and after that, he brought us down to Savoca and Forza d'Agro where the Godfather was filmed.
We stopped for some cannoli siciliani at what is apparently the best place for them in Sicily or Italy (I forget what it was called), then a little tour of Messina, and then back to the ship.
It was incredible.
Wonderful information given by the guide. The bus was very comfortable. We were taken to a dormant crater and walked along the lava flow. A little tour of baroque Catonia (as this was where we had to dock on this day) was a bonus.
Enjoyed the trip up and back. It was insanely crowded at the top though and too windy in my opinion to be walking on the edge of a crater so we didn't do the walking part. I can't imagine how hot it would be there in the summer...
it was a long drive up Mt Etna. The road was still full of snow. There was not much to see other than skiers, ski slopes and lots of snow. Taormina is a small town and not much to see either. One thing stands out is that the restaurant (where we had lunch) charged us an additional service charge of 2.50 Euros per person for sitting down and eat there. Go figure.
Private Tour once again booked prior to leaving for cruise went to Etna then off for an amazing lunch and shopping,Driver was amazing and knew his stuff , look online you will fond most private tours are cheaper than what the cruise lines offer
Our tour guide was very terse and unpleasant. She gave us complex directions in the bus ride to the sites of what we do and expect on the trip and then never followed up.
We had trouble keeping up with her and she got very surly at the end when she was offered a tip.
Tour guide didn't speak English well enough to be a tour guide. Thought we would see the volcano. No, you had to take the tram and we were told if we paid and it stopped because of high winds which happens often and missed our tour bus, we would have to find our own way back to ship which was an hour away. So instead we looked at the volcanic ground and had a cannoli and a beverage in a restaurant. Was kind of disorganized. People didn't know where to get their cannoli. Come to find out we had to go up the hill to another place. Then a lady got sick on the bus on the way back and the tour guide had nothing to give her to throw up in!.
I would probably have foregone the Mount Etna tour. Although it was cool to see the craters it was a long drive. I felt we were rushed through the rest of our day because of the time it took to get there.
Mount Etna is about 2 hours away so be aware of that - Amazing drive though - beautiful sights and we called in at a jewellery factory on return - amazing villa, with no obligation to buy, also given snacks there! Mount Etna was crowded but amazing we didn't visit the bar they recommended as too busy - we went another one, and it was easier to use the facilities and cheaper
We did the Mt Etna bus trip and had about 1 hour at crater. It wasn't long enough and with active family could have spent more time there. It was mostly older folks and less mobile. So I"d choose a different excursion next time. Noticed lots of folks had booked private tours with 4 people in vehicle which would have been MUCH faster than bus and kids would have enjoyed more. So if want to spend more time walking around craters (which I reco with kids) then suggest look independent
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