Day 4: Tuesday, June 18, 2013, Giardini Naxos (Taormina), Italy
We would arrive in Giardini Naxos at noon today, so a couple of shipboard activities took place prior to our arrival. First was a “Meet & Greet” in Le Salon with Captain Zupan and Hotel Director Nelson who talked about The Moana and answered questions from guests.
Following that was “Iron Chef Tere Moana,” which was hosted by Executive Chef Roy.
With the help of Tere Moana’s culinary team, two guests competed with each other to make the most delicious and visually appealing dish from fresh vegetables, steak, fish, lamb, and spices.
After the winner was crowned, I walked up to La Veranda for lunch.
Lunch was a Mediterranean theme complete with a carving station with Jambon French Prosciutto and sundried tomatoes, olives, and pickles.
Desserts included strawberry cake and cherry tarts.
As we sailed into the harbor, I walked up to the Soleil Deck of The Moana and enjoyed incredible views of Giardini Naxos, which is located on Sicily’s east coast. Then, I headed down to the marina to take a tender from the ship to Giardini Naxos, where you can access Taormina.
As a stop on the European Grand Tour of the 19th century, Taormina became Sicily’s first resort and remains its greatest one to this day.
Attractions include a charming medieval quarter and castle ruins.
Dating to the 4th century BC, Taormina has been coveted by civilizations from the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Saracens to the French and Spanish. The city was founded in 392 BC by Andromacus at the behest of Dionysius the Tyrant of Syracuse. With its conquest by the Roman Empire in 212 BC, it quickly became a favorite retreat for aristocracy—foreshadowing its present popularity as a vacation resort. The city became a cultural hub around the turn of the 10th century, when the Arabs took control and developed both agricultural and intellectual pursuits.
The confluence of magnificent scenery, tumultuous history, and rich culture has drawn a host of celebrities from literature and the arts over the past several decades. In addition to Goethe and Lawrence, writers Alexander Dumas, Oscar Wilde, Truman Capote, and John Steinbeck have vacationed here. The city has also hosted film legends, including Ingmar Bergman, Francis Ford Coppola, Federico Fellini, Woody Allen, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Elizabeth Taylor, and Cary Grant.
After I returned to The Moana from exploring, cocktail hour was beginning on the Soleil Deck. A signature Italian drink was served along with tray-passed canapés.
A group of local musicians and dancers were performing music ranging from opera to Italian folklore against the dramatic backdrop of Giardini Naxos. It wasn’t long before guests began singing and dancing with the performers.
Then, we all went down to the Bougainville Deck for an Italian feast surrounded by amazing views of Taormina and Giardini Naxos.
Tables were set with linens, china, crystal, and silverware for dining al fresco, poolside.
Fresh olive bread was placed on each table with a trio of Italian spreads. The starter this evening was a delicious platter of meats, cheese, shellfish, and Italian specialties.
Fresh, local lobster was on the menu tonight and was being prepared with lemon, lime, thyme, and rosemary, ready to be grilled.
And while we dined on the delicious Italian-themed fare, we were serenaded by the music and dance of the Italian performers accompanied by a beautiful sunset.
Following dinner, a disco party began by the pool with all guests dancing and delighting in the views of an illuminated Giardini Naxos at night.