Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Taormina, Sicily ~ Tour of the Town

For three euros or so you can take a tram up to the town of Taormina from Mazzaro. We took a tour bus which dropped us off near the entrance of the town and walked into it from there the first time we visited and the tram the second time. However you get up there it is totally worth the trip! (Remember to click on the photos to see the larger version!)
 We walked up into the first square and found that we actually had three choices on where to roam. To keep going the way we were, which would mean turn right and keep walking, or to go down the street on the right or up the street on the left. We found out that we were going to go to the ruins (that's next week's blog) so we only walked up the street a bit to shop.
 We were all amused by the obvious add-ons of the columns on one of the buildings but I simply loved the decorative touch of the flowers everywhere!
 Just shopping, whether it is for food or souvenirs, you will see lots of really beautiful building details. There is just something about all the color that totally romances me!
 We were a bit hungry so a fresh fruit vendor was almost too tempting to pass up!
 Instead we turned around and headed back to the main square. As we started back I just fell in love with the arched windows and decorative lamp post.
 The food was so beautiful. We decided to come back here to this pastry shop for dessert! Yes, that is ALL sugar!
 For those who wanted more nutritious fare there were several fruit stands on the side alley ways.
 This antique store was SO packed with stuff I couldn't make my mildly claustrophobic self even walk inside...but the outside was fabulous!
 Finally we made it up to the square. There were so many people! Along with some shops there were also street vendors selling cheap souvenirs. We were not tempted. But the two churches were beautiful! As you can see, behind the church is a lovely hotel that you can stay at and really enjoy being at the top of Taormina!
 One thing that some might think odd or even depressing is the use of skulls and crossbones in the churches. To Americans it may seem too morbid but I saw them in almost every town we visited. I, personally, think it is a very cool thing.
The coolest light/lamp I saw was inside that church. The dragon motif was just so medieval! If I could have brought one thing home with me it would have been these!
 The church across the way didn't have a skull that I could find but plenty of "fat babies", as we call cherubs, hanging around!
But the lamp posts here are fun! Don't forget to check out each one you come across for some rather unusual decor. Like the lion...not sure what that is supposed to be coming out of his mouth...a toga maybe?
 This lamp post was a two piece affair. The winged dragon part going to the actual light...
 But the bottom had birds holding the top up with their poor bent necks. I wasn't the only person staring at this with a puzzled look on their face! 

The real reason to trek to the top of Taormina is the view. And what an amazing view it is. Not only do you get to see more of the city but you get the ocean and a beautiful look at Mt. Etna. It was active when we were there so the "clouds" you see are actually steam clouds from the volcano!
 We decided to dine where the likes of Tennessee Williams and Elizabeth Taylor dined when they were in town...Wunderbar! 
 We quickly began to see why. Not only do you get that grand view but you also have a view of the square and a grand perch for people watching. Add to that the food...oh the food. We started out being spoiled with crackers and olives and fresh bread.
 Moving onto the main dish, I ordered pizza. I can't stress enough the difference between what we Americans call pizza and what is really pizza. I've had a few different types of pies here in the US...several major cities, including Chicago and New York, and several different types of cooking styles and NONE of them measure up to any of the pizzas I've enjoyed in Italy or Sicily. So it may feel silly to order pizza when it Italy but do it...even if it's just once, do it!
 And speaking of an Italian dish to order. The Veal Marsala was tender and rich and flavorful and wonderful! Yes, we all shared a bite of our meals! LOL! Our friend had a rich and cheesy lasagna that was simply wonderful too. Now we understand why Liz Taylor and Richard Burton hung out here!
 Just past the Wunderbar is a short tunnel with a hidden golden surprise. This exquisite work of art seems so out of place and yet right at home at the same time. Be patient and take the time to really see it. 
 My fondness for outdoor cafes extends to outdoor markets and art galleries too! The wonderful thing is that they all ship for you!
 I love doors and windows and door pulls are a favorite to discover in my travels. I was totally stuck by this one! Definitely one of the more unusual ones I have found.
 Hollywood has totally made it's mark here. This part of Sicily was used in filming the Godfather movies so you will find mention of it as you tour this area.
 Lest you think that you can only buy cheap souvenirs, food or antiques in the shops you will be pleased to find that, as with any town, there are regular stores as well. It was fun to discover this nail shop and be able to bring home a few colors from Sicily for my grown girls.
 This one corner just got me. The old plaster design, the brand new lamp along with this totally wonderful medieval lamp just got me. The constant reminder that the old and the new live in harmony.
 One of the places you will find this is in the nightclubs in Italian towns. The outside of the buildings could be very old and ornate but behind the doors is a very modern night life spot! This particular place mixes the two inside as well. Frescos on the ceiling but more modern furniture to go with them.
On the way back I finally found my stone lion. Carefully tucked into one of the romantic courtyards on a side street along the way back to the first square. Still one of my favorite images.

Next week we'll tour the two archaeological sites in Taormina. Both, like most of the Greek and Roman ruins, have many things in common but there are also stark differences. See you back here then!


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