During our last couple of days in Taormina the dust from the desert winds settled so we celebrated Beth’s birthday by the beach and finished off with some drinks at the Timeo Belmont
Hotel followed by dinner looking over the water. Great way to end the stay.
Next stop Malta.
Spent the day visiting two of the Aolian Islands – mostly Lipari which was delightful and then Vulcano which is known for its sulphur mud baths (with accompanying smells) and its black sand. Although a long day, if it is sunny I recommend a day trip to any of the islands as they evoke an even slower and more mellow pace than mainland Sicily!
The approach to the islands is very pretty.
On Lipari, each corner you turn yields a pleasing view – even on a medium sunny day
And the churches and cathedrals are plentiful too – and some very beautiful with impressive ceiling art.
We ventured out of lovely Taormina to visit Syracusa – a place that was occupied by the Greeks 700 years BC and the Romans 100 BC to 200 AD – stuff lasts a long time over here or maybe they just built things better back then?
The first pictures show the Greek amphitheater which is the oldest and where they were about to put on their annual performance of Greek Tragedies and Comedies – hence the stage. It is in pretty good shape and you get a real feel for how it must have been when the place was swarming with people attending the dramas and of course food fests that went on when the plays were performed. There are numerous large cave structures where the acoustics are perfect – although we only heard lots of kids screaming which made it difficult to imagine…..
You can also see the remains of the Roman amphitheatre – which is not in such good condition. It is much bigger as they found the Greek theatre for drama was not well designed for the live animal and gladiator shows they preferred – animals could too easily join the audience and this did not generally end well! Clearly the Greeks loved their drama and the Romans liked their sport!
Then we headed to the actual town of Syracusa on the waterfront – loads of narrow lanes that unexpectedly open out onto the vast central square – very impressive and a good place for coffee and people watching.
You think you are high up when you stay in Taormina and then you head up to Castelmola – just 15 minute precarious bus ride up what feels like a very steep road – actually it is both steep and wiggly – see pic below. Of course the trip is worth it as not only is it a sweet little town to have an aperol spritz and Campari and soda in – our particular faves – but also the views of Mount Etna require a million different photos. I’ve managed to whittle mine down to 5 – so as not to be too boring. But it is kind of cool – and you never know if it is going to blow…….
After Morocco and Madrid I meant to post from London but somehow the time ran away from me. Lots of meetings and catching ups including with a cohort of former Midland Bank people that I used to work with 25 years ago. Of course we all still look as young as we were then.
So now safely in Taormina which is on the North east coast of Sicily with my mate Beth and honestly if you had to describe your idea of a Sicilian town based on The Godfather and other movies, this would definitely be it. Lots of little red roofed houses clinging to the side of the hills all dwarfed by Mount Erna which gently spews out smoke and gas every day – at least that is all it has done so far.
Decided to stay in the old town of Taormina in an apartment attached to a hotel (Hotel Carlotta) which is lovely, elegantly decorated and very spacious and a short walk into town which is filled with restaurants, bars, ceramic shops and shoe shops – well:)
Turns out the Giro d’Italia was here today – we had no idea and frankly I wasn’t even sure what it was (sorry cycling fanatics) – so we are “enjoying” lots of men in lycra – although even the very fit don’t look that great in lycra – whoever invented that has a lot to answer for!
And for the cycling fanatics, I’ve included some guys on bikes – courtesy of Beth.
A selection of views of Taormina that you see around every corner
Our apartment, the pool and the view from our balcony
Giro d’Italia participants racing past our hotel