The Italian Bar
A bar in Italy is usually a family owned business where you can purchase coffee drinks, wine and liquor, and pastries, gelato and painini sandwiches not like a bar in the states.
The bar is the center of social life, and like with the TV show Cheers everybody knows your name. People may visit their local bar several times a day for coffee, and again later evening for a before or after dinner drink.
Prices range based on whether you sit or stand, it will cost more to sit at a table and even more if the table is outside, than if you stand at the bar.
You pay the cashier first then take your ticket to the server. I learned this by watching the locals after standing there not being served. I loved the espressos, cappuchinos and the pastries.
Trip to Syracuse (Siracusa)
The Greek and Roman civilisations have left their mark all over the town but this represents only a part of it's history; Syracuse has been Sicilian, Arab, Roman, Byzatine, Norman, Swabian, Aragonese, Catalan and Borbonic. There are numerous archaeological remains which have withstood the passing of the centuries, national disasters and plunders of the ages.
Between Messina and Catania
"Taormina in December"
I visited this beautiful location on Sicily/Italy last year (2001) in December.
My hotel, situated at Corso Umberto, let me look up to Mount Etna from breakfast room, the other window let me look down to the sea - what a contrast! This highest of all active European vulcanos was rarely to be seen that time, unfortunately, because of rainy
weather. Corso Umberto belongs to the Roman "Via Valeria", connecting Messina and Catania at east coast. Without car, it appeared to be difficult to organise trips personally. Organised journeys by bus were cancelled without exception, because of lack of interest (only few tourists being there). But there were two alternatives: going by foot uphill and downhill (same level nearly not possible), or to use public bus. My recommendations: Greek theatre, gardens of Miss Florence Trevelyan (many exotic trees) in Taormina, going uphill to Castelmola (531 m) and Castello Saraceno (398 m) by foot, downhill to the marvellous island "Isola Bella" and to the sea resort Spisone. Really nice, but a little bit demanding for physical constitution. Public bus is a really cheap way of transportation there: Giardini-Naxos, Messina, Catania, old Greek Syracusa, all of them reachable for little money, in short time and by trips offering marvellous views.