November 4, 2019
After our non-visit to Corfu, we sailed around to Sicily. We docked at Messina, near the northeast point of the island, but didn't do any touring there. We had booked an excursion to Taormina and Castelmola. Christopher said they had already done the Taormina and Mount Etna tour. I did get a few pictures of Messina before the tour and then in the late afternoon when we came back.
Tauromenion was founded by Greek colonists from nearby Naxos some time after 734 BC. It was apparently prosperous and important for some centuries. Well into the Middle Ages and through a century of Muslim rule, most of the population still spoke Greek. Since the late eighteenth century, following Goethe's visit, it has welcomed many famous artists, photographers, writers, and composers. Nietzsche wrote Thus Spoke Zarathustra there. The old town is perched about 800 feet above the sea, so it is reached by a steep, curvy road.
The Duomo dates from the thirteenth century, and the Baroque fountain from 1635.
The main sight to visit in the town is the Greek theater. When it was rebuilt and expanded, it retained the Greek design rather than the Roman amphitheater configuration. Much of the brick proscenium survives. Modern seats have been installed, and concerts and events are staged there.
Taormina is also noted for its scenic vistas, as well as shops, restaurants, and nightlife. The Taormina Film Fest takes place in late June and early July. It has attracted many famous movie stars, many of whom have been honored there.
The Trinacria is the symbol of Sicily.
St. Catherine's Church
St. Giuseppe's Church
Then we met back at the bus and wound our way even farther up to Castelmola. The ruin of the castle itself is at the very top. The town itself doesn't have that much to see or do. You can enjoy the views and visit the shops and bars. We got a free drink in one. After we had time to explore the area near the main plaza, we hiked back down the steep hill to the place where the bus had dropped us off. There we had a nice dinner catered for us in a restaurant. That was included as part of our tour.
The day was clear enough for us to have decent views of Mount Etna. I later took what might be an even better picture.
A little different view of Mount Etna
After dinner the bus took us back to the port at Messina, and I got a few more shots of the town as sunset approached.