Sicily: Taormina

I practically run for the walkway up above Taormina. It is a fine clear sunny day but heavy rain is forecast for the next 3 days.This may be my only day to see as much as possible. Taking on the climb at a cracking pace I huff and puff and I’m sure, I am very red and flushed. There are lots of tiny skinks and butterflies and from time to time I glance back, and the view is mighty.

Taormina is a romantic, dreamlike town, sitting 200 metres above sea level on the cliffs. It looks out over the beach and beautiful ‘Isola Bella’ Island below and then beyond, out to the ocean with mainland Italy in the far distance . As I am climbing above Taormina another couple of hundred metres I am looking down at all that but also Taormina township itself with it’s Teatro Greco and then round to the right, the snow capped Mt Etna.

Mt Etna is just out of sight to the right and hiding behind the clouds.

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At the top of the walking path, about 20 minutes walking fast, there is a church built around a natural cave. The Madonna della Rocca. The ceiling is cave. It is very beautiful and intimate. I light a candle for family. Tomorrow is Tutti i Santi, and the following day Tutti i Morti. It seems right to think of my loved ones at this sanctuary.

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Back outside, looking further on past the church, are houses and a road, but the houses soon peter out and the road continues winding it’s way up higher and higher to the enticing Castelmola village perched up top. I want to go on but it will be another two days before I get there.

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I trot back down the path, it’s all view this way round, and call in at the hostel for food, water, a toilet stop and my bathing suit. I’m hot and sweaty and I want to get in the Ionian sea like I want to breathe. It’s 300 steps down to sea level and Isola Bella,  about 30 minutes walking slow, and I pass an older couple singing as they pick Olives from their trees. Joyous.

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The beach is rocky and hard on the feet and not very dignified slipping and stumbling to get in but gorgeous once submerged.The only real frustration is the continuous approaches by a group of women selling Thai massage and beach shoes. (Those would be great for this beach if you were spending any time here but not for me with my onward travel plan to cities).

I catch the bus back up for 1.90 Euro.

Taormina is stunningly lovely, the perfect sized town to while away at least three days, with nice shops, interesting ancient history, gardens and walks and even, visits to the rest of this stretch of coastline by car or bus. There’s a supermarket and loads of nice places to eat.

The rain came as forecast for the following two days pretty solidly along with thunder and winds. I was forced to rest. My knees were sore after my mountain goat behavior on my first day, so I ate, watched MTV, and when the torrential rain lightened to a showers, took my brolly and visited the teatro Greco, ate Canolli and went shopping. I also watched the Rugby world cap final in the Irish pub. 🙂

My last day here, I took the hop on hop off bus and did it’s full circuit down along the coast, looking out at the blustery damp, grey coast with it’s waves whipped up. I’m glad I stayed in Taormina rather than down here. Taormina really is the jewel of this area. The bus then ground it’s way all the way back up past Taormina and on up to Castelmola. I got off and walked through the village. It was bitterly cold near the end of October. My first experience of just how cold Autumn can be in Italy. (I came to know the cold really well by nearly December in Rome).

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Facebook post from this day: I am on top of the world in Castelmola on my last day in Sicily. The wind blows cold and the cloud hangs low. What a beautiful tempestuous moody island. 

 

There are ancient ruins here, a Castello on the jagged Mt Tauro. There is a tiny, picturesque village, a duomo and there is a cafe with hot tea and Torta for a frozen Kiwi. After I have sat and enjoyed the view, thawed out and lined my belly, I elect to make the journey back to Taormina on foot. It’s all downhill and takes me about an hour, 1/2 on the road and then the second 1/2 back down the path from the Madonna della Rocca.

Off to the mainland tomorrow and I have excitement in my belly.

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