We asked Jordan to tell us why the programme in Taormina was crucial for him to learn Italian.
First thing you do when you arrive back in Taormina?
The first thing that I would do when I return to Taormina is to visit my host family. They were my gateway into Taormina, and also Sicily, and Italy. The family provided me with help, open arms, AMAZING cooking, and a look into the culture of Sicily, that no other avenue could provide.
What advice would you give to a tourist?
The best advice I can give to a tourist at Taormina is to stay away from the beaten path. So much of the charm of Taormina is lost through the commercialized aspect of it (Corso Umberto). Some of the most wonderful places you can find in Taormina are off the main road, so just walk around, and see what you can find.
If you had to be locked in a building overnight, which would it be?
If I had to be locked in a building overnight, I would choose BAMBAR! Have you had una granita from there? If you have, you will understand why I chose this. Never before had I had one, but when I had my first (grazie Daniele!), I realized I could eat one every day.
Best place for a romantic holiday in Taormina?
The best place for a romantic holiday in Taormina, in my opinion, is at a hotel on Castelmola. While not quite, Taormina, it overlooks Taormina! In order to make the most of this, you have to pick a hotel with a room that overlooks the seaside from Castelmola. From there, you can see the ocean, Taormina, Etna, and on a clear day, even mainland Italy!
What would you do if you were Mayor for the day?
If I was Mayor for the day, I would force the sellers of the ‘knick-knacks’ off Courso Umberto. While this is something that happens in many cities, I believe it is something that detracts from the beauty of the town.
Earliest Taormina memory?
My earliest Taormina memory is the day after I arrived (after a 21 hour journey, everything was a blur before). After my first day at Babilonia school, I met a group of people from Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden, Germany, and Spain who invited me on a trip to Catania! The spontaneity of this journey, the simplicity, and the uniqueness was something that I will never forget. That journey was also my first true look at the world outside of the United States.
What are your favourite late-night hangouts?
My favorite late-night hangout was the Q Bar. Being from Babilonia school we received a discount, and every night they remembered us and asked us how everything was going. While speaking in Italian, giving us a chance to practice.
Best meal you’ve had in Taormina?
The best meal I had in Taormina was at the Granducca Pizzeria. This was for a number of reasons. The night itself was beautiful, and I went with five of my friends that I made (all from different parts of the world), and we had a table that overlooked the cliffs of Taormina so you could see the ocean and the entire coast. To top it all off they gave us a glass of champagne, and the pizza itself was wonderful! I had the Great Bear pizza, which had a plethora of toppings, including tomatoes, ham, salami, prosciutto, and basil.
If you could buy any building in Taormina, which would it be?
If I could buy any building in Taormina, I would buy the Saracen castle at the crest of the mountain overlooking Taormina. The location is stunning, and the history of the building enchants me.
What is your favourite Taormina discovery?
My favorite Taormina discoveries were when I found the small markets sprinkled throughout the small strebets. These places, especially one on my way home, are special because they provide some of the best food, at the best price that you can find in Taormina. In addition, the workers tend not to speak English, so it gives you the real world practice that you are not able to get on Corso Umberto.
Best advice for students?
My best advice for students at Babilonia school is to branch out from Corso Umberto. Taormina can seem limited just by walking down Corso Umberto, but once you branch off onto the sides, you can find places that are relatively hidden. Also, take advantage of the opportunities provided to you! There are many economical travel options throughout Sicily, and each city has a unique history, style, and cuisine. Get out there and explore!