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Plan your trips before you get to Sicily, if possible, as a good plan and the possibility to stick to it will save you money, will keep you (almost) calm and will give value to your vacation. Bear in mind that Sicily has many things to visit so don't expect to do many things, at one visit. Leave some for the next time, since Sicily is definitely a destination worth returning. Let's start by exploring the day trips from base camp Catania, as it's one of the 2 Airport tourist destinations (the other one being Palermo, of course).
So, you are in Catania and want to get around. Rent a car if you are a medium to good driver. The people in Sicily drive in their own way, but in other places could be worse and they respect the general rules, are not fast and not unpredictable. The roads are ok, but you need to have some experience since they can be narrow, steep or crowdy at times. Rent a car from the airport or any agency you like, booking in advance will definitely come cheaper. If you look for budget, get a local agency. If you are a regular renter just browse before you go in vacation and get a good deal. If you hate driving, browse for the bus stations as the destinations of today are reachable by car, bus and even train.
TAORMINA is the first trip as it is unique, a rocky town above a wonderful gulf, a sea destination that is among the first 3 of Italy (if not the first, opinions vary). By car you will drive on the highway (A18-E45) -exit Taormina, or "statale", the blue SS (114) marked road, towards Messina. Get a GPS if you can and enjoy the wonderful panorama, as you will drive watching The Etna by the highway, or through little towns and by the sea if you choose the "statale". The trip does not take long, since the distance is 55kms (34miles). By bus, you can ask at your local hotel, and of course you can grab a taxi an go to the station as there are trains that go to Messina via Taormina, as well. From he station, though, you need a mean to go up in the town, so grab another taxi as there are plenty. Bargain. Once arrived at the base, the road will start climbing the top towards the "down town". Drive carefully and start looking for parking as you reach the top. There are enough, they have parking meters and some even people guiding you through the facility. Don't leave the car just in any place since you might get a big fine. Enjoy the city, make tons of photos, shop, eat.
When done, or even before, don't miss the beach which is sandy, wonderful, the waters are clear and warm and they provide a boat tour around the gulf, which I warmly recommend. You can snorkel as well if you like, no rent equipment though.
Duration of the trip could be 1 day, but you can always return the next day for the castle up in the town, for the wonderful beach or just for fun! If you drive don't forget to respect the limits as they have speed machines along he way. Be safe and enjoy!!!!