March 10, 2020
One of the highlights of my time in Sicily was meeting a Facebook friend in person, Linda Chartier Scala, and her husband, Bruno. Linda had been helpful in ideas for things to see and do. On this day, she and Bruno were going to drive up the coast from Catania to both Messina and Taormina with me. It was all new to me.
After Bruno and Linda picked me up in Catania, we drove along the sea to Cyclops Bay. It was a perfect day for this drive. We stopped to look at the rocks. The myth is that the Cyclops threw 3 large stones at Ulysses and his men as the escaped and ran to their ship. Those and more stones remain in the bay.
We also saw the Castle of Acicatello on Lahea Island, another huge rock.
Linda took the photo above of Bruno and me, just two Italians enjoying the day, in front of Lahea Island.
We headed to Messina so that I could learn a bit more about it. One of my clients is from the Province of Messina. I wanted to assist him in his travels. We entered the city.
It appeared to be rather industrial. It is a good-sized city with several interesting spots to visit. I had wanted to see the Piazza Del Duomo and the Norman Church built in the 1100s. But first we decided to drive around to see what we could find.
There were lovely neighborhoods. At the top of the hill we discovered a fountain,
And to the right as you look this way at the fountain, I found a decorated staircase leading up to a museum.
Next we drove to Piazza Del Duomo where we had hoped to hear the chimes of the astronomical clock at noon.
We missed it by a few minutes. This extremely accurate astronomical clock tower was completed in 1933 and stands next to the Norman Duomo built originally in the 12th Century.
Here are some close-ups.
Unfortunately, it was closed for the day. But the exterior was phenomenal.
Next time I will enter.
Also, the Fontana d’Orion, created by Florentine Renaissance artist Gamontosoli, is also beside the Church on this lovely piazza. Unfortunately, it was under repair.
I can hardly wait to see it when the work is completed.
By now it was time for lunch before heading to Taormina. We stopped at the Osteria del Duomo around the corner for good pasta at a decent price. Then we were back in the car and heading onward. Ciao Ciao, Messina, I said as we waved to the Madonnina in the port( She is on top of the pillar.).
Taormina is an upscale tourist town, high in the hills with views of Mt. Etna. Bruno drove the narrow roads honking as he came to another turn—warning other drivers who could be coming down but could NOT see us. Since he was in charge of La machina, the car, he took a road going high above Taormina first. He wanted to show me Castelmola, hanging far above Taormina and featuring a very unique café’.
That’s Taormina in the sunshine between the two hills below us from Castelmola.
Those roads are treacherous.
The locals were resting in the sun while I was awestruck by the views and the town itself.
Bruno was on a mission to show me a certain café here.
We were climbing like billy goats making our way over the hilly streets.
Where was this place we were seeking?
What was the big deal about Turrisi?
Here it is.
Please note the following photos are a bit risqué!
From the outside it looks like any nice bar in Italy. Beware!
It’s a penis bar. Apparently, it is a big tourist attraction. I think Bruno wanted to see how I would react. Well, I had to laugh. Oh dear.
The place had a gorgeous view from the upper floor.
I was ready to leave the bar and say farewell to Castelmola.
I had to stop and pray for forgiveness on the way down to the car.
After this, I thought Taormina would be tame.
We arrived in Taormina, parked and walked up to the main piazza. It was kids’ Carnevale day.
A band was playing, and kids were in their costumes. Everyone was dancing including me.
This child was absolutely adorable.
The views from Taormina were spectacular.
I can see why it is such a tourist attraction. We walked up to the main shopping street, right by this lovely Madonna and Child.
Then we saw gold in another fashion.
What I found to be the golden value of Taormina was threefold.
First, the ancient structures among the shops.
Like this above and the ancient gate below.
Second, the people. In the 2 photos below, you see a woman on the top floor send her small bag of trash down to the trash collector. Who would do that in other countries?
Thank you, Linda Chartier Scala, for these photos.
And these sweeties at the end of the day.
Helping each other.
Third, there is Mt. Etna, looming over it all.
The people, the landscape, the sea, the antiquities, and the humor of life beneath a living, breathing, volcano—It makes Sicily, especially the areas I have seen thus far, so very unusual. This is a place with an ancient history and a modern vibe, a tourist’s haven and a traveler’s joy of experience.
I could not have experienced so very much without the friendship of Linda and Bruno. Linda has lived in Sicily 17 years, I believe. Bruno was born in Ortigia and he’s a lifer! Between the two of them, they are fountains of information and really good people. Grazie Mille!
For now, it is time to say farewell to Catania, Messina, Castelmola, Taormina and the Cyclops for now. A new adventure without a plan awaits. Until then, dream of Sicily. See you soon.
Ciao for now!
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Ciao for Now!
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