“Pay me these lines weight in gold, not for their extraordinary beauty, but because I, my self, have to pay them so dear. If I estimate every little star a dime and a penny for every deep murmur of the sea, ten Lire the small red fire on top of Mount Etna and a half Lira every balmy air every other hour – as you see, I don’t consider the reflections of the sea, nor the trees, nor the old castle, and even the ones’ of the Greek theatre that had nothing with which to draw attention – then, it’s truly worth it and glory be to God who sent me to this part of the world” (K. Capek – “Fogli italiani”)
This is the second part of my little reportage about Sicily (here you will find the first part); well, welcome to everyone and happy return from summer holidays!
It may be fault of the 36° C in the shade or of the threatening weather forecasts on global warming, but I’m not even thinking about making the change of season… and when it’s hot it becomes difficult not to think about the sea, and even more difficult not to think about the just finished holidays! Sigh!
Among the many souvenirs that we buy over every trip (as though we had to help Santa gathering the gifts), there is one, shaped as a turtle, that observes me from my desk and reminds me “Hey does it come to mind where were you until a few days ago? In Sicily! And remember what you would do when it was 36 degrees in the shade? You would dive in the crystal clear waters of the beautiful island!” -.-‘
So if you also have nostalgia of the so-called “summer breeze”, come with me on this journey through unforgettable places in the land of Sicily… starting from the sparkling Taormina.
About 40 minutes from Catania, my base for this trip, there’s a beautiful town, one of the most popular summer destination in Italy.
Located on the mount Tauro, the town was originally known as Tauromenium, name later changed to Taormina, which literally means “dwelling on the Taurus.”.
The name was probably comes from Sicilians and Greeks, but there are also legends attributing the origin af the name, respectively, to a Minotaur (depicted on ancient coins) and two princes of Palestine, Taurus and Mena, who founded the city and gave it the name of Tauromena.
The exit of the highway for Taormina, coming from Catania, is located just before the entrance of a tunnel (one time I didn’t see it and I missed it!) and after a turn you’ll find the station, where you pay the toll (it’s cheap don’t worry… a crisis-proof tool)… to get to the historical centre, you need to go up and take a series of turns, until you’ll get to a huge parking.
Fortunately in Taormina there are a lot of parkings, where, for a fee, you can leave your car and avoid fines; the parking area that I prefer is situated at the marina, there you can leave your car and take the cable-way.
The cable-way ride is very enjoyable (even for those afraid of heights like myself : p), it lasts a couple of minutes and you reach the top of Taormina directly… so walking for few meters you arrive to the old town.
There are other 2 huge parkings : one as soon as you arrive to the small roundabout which leads to the historical centre, it’s about 3 km from the highway, “Lumbi” a parking with A lot of floors, if you leave your car here, to get to the city centre you can either take a shuttle bus, or climb a loooot of steps (good solution for athletic people… I reached the last step and after that “ I talked with the angels” I gasped! ^. ^ ‘);
Another parking is the “Porta Catania” the most comfortable in my opinion because it’s close Umberto Street, the main course.
Arrived at the beginning of the main street, Corso Umberto, you start to get into an all Italian special atmosphere, that is really hard to explain; I can only say that Kate, my German friend who came to visit me from the grey Berlin, could not stop saying “Oh what a beautiful place Sicily… and then that nice Italian atmosphere! Day after day I’m falling in love with this sea, and then… how many beautiful Italian names: Marco, Francesca, Alessandro, they have a very special charm!” (everything rigorously said in english with her german accent… or maybe it was german with an english accent?)
I love to confront myself with people who are not from my own Country, because they make me notice things that I would take for granted or to which I would not give any thought and this allows my point of view to change, and get enriched with many shades.
Another way to enjoy the view of Taormina is the boat ride… if you don’t posses a boat (as in 99.9999 periodic % of cases : p) you can take advantage of the mini cruise service; I recommend the trip from Giardini Naxos (locality adjacent to Taormina) to the natural reserve of Isola Bella; the boat ride costs around 20 Euros and during the trip, with the sound of music in the background, the captain talks about the coast with its beautiful corners; the tour includes an aperitif in the reserve and a swim in this wonderful sea (masks provided for those who want them).
Imagine swimming in this water, beside creeks and caves ; )
Or to visit the Blue Cave (and I’m sorry not to have have photos with higher resolution of that… you have to see it absolutely this amazing place and all Sicily!)
Taormina is full, or better overflowing, of small shops where you can find local crafts and clothing, big brands… in fact brands like Elisabetta Franchi, Furla, Dolce & Gabbana and so on, will show their collections on the famous Umberto’s Street, where you can also sip a cappuccino enjoying Sicilian Granita or eat excellent fish prepared according to traditional Sicilian recipes, overlooking breathtaking views.
There is a restaurant that I recommend, with a stunning view and good kitchen, it’s the “Il Granduca”… here is the link of the restaurant.
Everything remains open (at least in the summer) until late in the evening, and I highly recommend to watch the shows that almost every night take place at the Greek Theatre. “The Carmen” was my first experience in this wonderful historical context… we bought the tickets directly at the ticket office located along the way that brings to the theatre, and what it was revealed to my eyes, before seeing the opera, it was this show:
After the opera we went to one of the most famous clubs in Taormina… the Morgana. This name is particularly fascinating to me because it is related to a really interesting natural phenomenon… but that’s another story! 😉
With the magic in my heart that this place gives me every time, I conclude this article… to the next post!