Wow, we really loved this tour. My daughter and I will cherish our memories forever. Guiseppe picked us up right outside our rental apartment and drove us up Mt. Etna from there. He took us to some interesting sights along the way and gave us background about the eruptions over the last few decades that have changed the landscape. He also explained the three-legged symbol of Sicily along the way. He took us to the entry point of the official Mt. Etna park and waited while we took the cable car to as high as it goes. You do have to pay an extra 30 euros a person to the park in order to take the cable car, but it is worth it. Once you get up there, it is much cooler, so shorts and a long sleeve shirt were the bare minimum. If you choose to hike as high as you are possibly allowed, you can rent a winter coat and other gear (we did not). Just this part of the tour was life-changing. We spent about 2 1/2 hours in total while Guiseppe waited patiently in the car.
We could have gone home at that point and it would have been an amazing day, but no, he then took us to a honey farm. We appreciated this short stop immensely. Guiseppe explained how they extract the honey from the honeycomb and then give the honeycomb back to the bees. We tasted about a dozen different honeys, and tasted olives, about 10 different olive oils, 4-5 different wines. Just going to this honey shop was unforgettable, but then we went to the Gambino winery. Winery personnel give you a brief tour and then seat you for lunch. Don't worry, you won't go away hungry or thirsty. We tasted their white, rose, and red wines; I believe 5 in total but I could have missed one. We couldn't even finish everything they gave us. I couldn't have driven after that lunch; fortunately, Guiseppe was there to be our driver! Oh, be sure to take time to smell and taste the herbs. They are stronger and more aromatic than you are probably accustomed to.
After this wonderful experience, Guiseppe drove us to the charming beach town of Taormina. On this tour you don't get a lot of time at Taormina; it's just to get a taste of what's there. Once you are there you realize you need to go back and stay much longer, which we did the next day, so Guiseppe's tour was perfect for reconnaissance. It is a beautiful town with great shopping, great food, a Greco-Roman theater, and great views; you really want to spend hours and hours there. We then drove back to our starting point in Catania. It was about 9 hours in total, and we loved every minute of it. Thank you for the memories, Guiseppe!