Tuesday, October 23, 2012


It was a pretty gray day today, and I debated about going to Taormina, but decided to go for it.   I threw an umbrella in the car and set out along the coast road.  Taormina sits on a cliff above the Ionian Sea and is said by many to be the most beautiful place in Sicily.  I haven’t seen enough of Sicily to comment, but it sure is beautiful, even on a gray day……

Taormina is an ancient city that was inhabited first by a native Italian tribe, the Siculi, before it was taken from them by the Greeks around 734 BC.  Then it was passed to the Romans in 263 BC. The Arabs took it in 902 and two years later they were conquered by the Normans.  In the 13th century, it came under French rule and in the 17th century it was governed by the Spanish but bounced back to the French toward the end of that century.  This is the character of Sicily—the influences of these many cultures can still be found here.

Your jaw is constantly dropping at the magnificent views as you drive up the mountain around countless hairpin curves and see sights like this all the way....

Beginning in in the 19th century, Taormina became a popular tourist resort and was frequented by the likes of Oscar Wilde, Nietzsche, Goethe and Richard Wagner.  While Taormina is still clearly a tourist town, the season is ebbing, and it wasn’t very crowded in the town.  I wandered the streets for about an hour and a half.  Here’s the beautiful altar of one of the churches………….

 This church I saw walking toward the town is a bit more humble.....

The courtyard of the 10th century Palazzo Corvaia…….

I had lunch at a restaurant that was perched on the edge of the cliff, and the funicular ran right beside it…..

It goes from the town down to the beach.

After lunch, I decided I wanted to drive up to the town of Castelmoro, which is perched on an even higher cliff above Taormina.  This is where I thought I was going….it’s an ancient Saracen castle.…..

After countless hairpin curves, however, I arrived in a place even higher than the castle, where I took this picture and the one of the castle.....

I wish I could have been there on a really sunny day to capture the brilliant beauty of this place.  I wanted to get to that castle, but the only road I saw that was going up had a one way sign and I never saw another road that looked like it would get me there.  I think I need to go back to Taormina again before I leave Sicily, because I never found a couple of places I wanted to see, and I want to figure out how to get to that castle.

I was pretty proud of myself when I was able to find my way to the autostrade, because it saved me a bunch of time getting back.  I drove (literally) through the mountains and maneuvered around countless more hairpin curves going down. It felt like I went through the same mountain four times, and the tunnels kept getting longer.  I’m pretty amazed at how I’m finding my way around, and I’m getting pretty good at the shifting, too.  When I was on the autostrade, cars whizzed by me on the left going a million kilometers an hour—okay, maybe it was less than that, but they were pretty much flashes as they went by.  I was wimping along behind a bus and decided I needed to get a bit more aggressive, plus the fumes were nauseating, so I pushed the odometer up to 120 kilometers an hour and felt like I was sailing, which is strange because it’s only 75 miles per hour, and I drove that fast on the freeways at home all the time.

Anyway, it was a lovely day, and I like being a mountain goat...I mean girl.

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