Saturday, August 12, 2017

Trip to Taormina, Sicily, (July 2017)

Sicily is called the football of Italy. The main land looks like a boot and the island of Sicily looks like a football about to be kicked.

Sicily's flag is called Trinacria that means three legs at the center. Three bent legs represent the three points of the triangular shape of the Island of Sicily. The flag also has the head of Medusa (Gordon) and three wheat ears. The present design became the official public flag of the Autonomous Region of Sicily in January 2000.

Sicily reminds me of several things. Mafia is definitely one of them. Pasta is believed to have originated from Sicily through Saracens or Arabic influence. Mt. Etna is also well known. I was quite excited about this first trip to Sicily.

Also, Sicily was part of what Romans called "Magna Graecia" or "Great Greece." Greece was expanding and its people settled in southern region of Italy. They brought the Hellenic culture and left strong imprints in the culture of Rome and now Italy.

After Alberobello, we drove the Reggio Calabria, which was also part of Magna Graecia. We reached Taranto, an important city for Magna Graecia, where we took a ferry to go to the Island of Sicily, crossing the Strait of Messina. Messina was the port in Sicily across Taranto.

Messina was heavily bombed by the U.S., the U.N. allies and the Mafia. Why? Messina was the starting point for them to recover Italy from the tyranny of the Fascism under Benito Mussolini.

From Messina, we drove to Sant Alessio Siculo, a beach town close enough to Taormina, an important Greek town as part of Magna Graecia. The view was stunning from the hotel room to the sea. Probably the best out of this trip.

We took a guided tour to Taormina with Alfredo as the local tour guide, but we could not hear him at all due to the competing noise. But we still enjoyed the small and beautiful town.

 The following day, we took our own trip to Taormina. It was a beautiful town up the hills overlooking the sea. The bus took us to the parking lot and from there we took elevator up to the plaza. The street was packed with shops and alleys interconnecting all houses and shops. We visited an ecological park and wandered around. Bought sea salt and a small bottle of Limoncello.

Vicolo Street is a narrow street where one person can barely pass. This Italy-born Canadian man and Ukraine-born Canadian couple was part of our group and they gave us amusement several times.

We tried Arancini rice ball and canoli ricotta both of which are from Sicily.

Taormina has a tradition of young people dressed up with their best clothes and strolling slowly on the streets. Their purpose is seen by grannies of young children who are looking for the prospective spouses for their grand children. This tradition no longer exists, but the tradition of strolling in best clothes continues.

Coming down from Taormina by bus, we stopped over at Isola Bella, an extremely cute and clean beach where people sunbathed even on rocky and pebbly ground. But the water was unbelievably emerald and clean.

We had lunch at a restaurant. Wherever you go in Italy, foods are excellent!

On the way back to Sant Alessio Siculo, there was a fire near the only street by the sea shore. All traffic was halted and we decided to walk back. We ended up walking almost 10 miles. Kristin got blisters on her feet, but we slept well that night.

On the way back walking by the sea shore...
Taormina was a fun place to visit as our first stop in Sicily. - Jeffrey

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