Monday, September 24, 2007

Girls Day Out - Taormina & Gambino Winery

Yesterday I took off with a few girlfriends for a tour of Taormina and wine tasting at the Gambino Winery. All four of us had visited Taormina on previous occasions and were familiar with the sights so we decided to ditch the tour group and attempted to blend with the local culture. We made our way to a bar and ordered breakfast - for me it was a cappuccino and cornetto con crema (a cream filled criossant). We sat at the cafe for a couple of hours chatting and people-watching.

Alice, Jen, & Candice at the cafe

Once we finished breakfast we decided to wander in and out Taormina's many shops. Taormina is a very beautiful tourist town. In my opinion it is the La Jolla of Sicily.

Sweet Treats - Marzipan Fruits in a Store Window

As we neared the city gate we noticed that the Chiesa Santa Caterina was open and decided to peek inside. This was one of the most unique paintings that I've seen in an Italian church.

Inside Chiesa Santa Caterina

At noon we piled back into our tour bus and headed up into the foothills of Mt. Etna to the Gambino Winery. It was about an hour drive up tight, curvy mountain road to the winery. As we got off the bus we heard honking and cheers as a Fiat 500 (cinquecento) club passed. They just kept coming and coming. I wish I knew how many there were. They looked like they were having so much fun!

Fiat 500 (cinquecento) Parade

The bus dropped us off at the bottom of the hill below the winery - the road to the winery was too small for the bus. We were given the option to walk up - about a 10 minute walk, or wait for vans to pick us up. We were also given a third option of starting to walk and the vans would pick us up on the their way up the hill. We decided to set out on foot. The road was steep and much longer than we thought. I walked about 2/3rds of the way before I finally caught an empty seat in the van. I definitely worked for my lunch!

The sign a the bottom of the hill

At the top of the hill we were surrounded by beautiful vineyards weighed down with grapes. They harvest at the end of October due to the colder weather and elevation (about 800 meters). I was able to take a few pictures before we crowded into the tasting room for lunch and of course wine.

Nerello Mascalese Grapes

View from the terrace, Geraniums with the vineyards in the background

Lunch was delicious! It was advertised as a "light lunch" but it was more of a feast! We dined on antipasti of sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, eggplant, olives, marinated mushrooms, bread, cheese, and meats. We also got to taste five different wines. I purchased three bottles - the Tifeo Bianco, a fruity but crisp, dry white wine; the Cantari Rosso, a delicious full-bodied red wine made from Nero D'Avola grapes which are indigenous to Sicily, similar to a Cabernet Sauvignon in flavor; and the Alicante Rosso, a very robust, delicious red wine.

After lunch and we were given a tour of the winery and were able to purchase wine. Once we finished we had a bit of time to wander the grounds so I snapped a few more pictures.

View from the winery

A very unique tree

Click on the picture to enlarge it. I didn't even notice when I took the photo that the leaves had spiderwebs on them. I love finding those types of surprises when I enlarge pictures.

With full tummies and sleepy with wine we loaded back onto the bus for the ride home. I had a great time!

Sunset on the SS417

One the way home I caught this sunset through the window of the car. A beautiful end to a beautiful day.

Now playing: Andrea Bocelli - Giordano: Andrea Chénier - Come Un Bel Dì Di Maggio
via FoxyTunes

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