Sicily is the...
Sicily is the biggest island of Italy. Around Sicily you will find a few minor islands such as:
The lipari islands (Vulcano, Filicudi, Alicudi, Salina, Panarea, Stromboli) on the est side Pantelleria and on the south The Pelagie islands (Lampedusa, Lampione, Linosa).
Sicily is surrounded by 3 different Seas (The MEDITERRANEAN SEA on the south, The MAR TIRRENO on the north and the MAR IONIO on the east.
Sicily is an independent region of Italy and has 9 provinces: Palermo (capital) Agrigento, Caltanisetta, Catania, Enna, Messina, Ragusa, Siracusa and Trapani.
Sicily is separated from the rest of the country by the “STRETTO DI MESSINA”.
The island has mostly hills and mountains (Peloritani, Nebrodi, Madonie on the North and Erei on the East and IBLEI on the South).
Just above the ETNA (vulcano) you will find the big plain of Catania and the agricolture is the main important issue on the island: olive trees, oranges and lemons, fishing, ceramics.
On my way up the mountain, I saw a shepard with his sheep. Although Mt Etna is very active and there is always the threat of eruption, people go about their daily lives and still work and live here. The soil here is very rich due to the minerals in the lava from past eruptions.
On 15th August, the image of Crist supporting his mother in the palm of his hand, and raising her to Heaven, is borne on top of a massive coneshaped "machine", designed in the structure of the universe: from the world up to heavens, with the angelic hierarchies in between. Local people from all social backgrounds and from all over the city drag "la Vara" ( the name, meaning "coffin", derives from the small glass casket holding the figure of the mortal body of the Virgin, at the base of the machine) by long tow-ropes, whilst singing hymns to Mary.
Progress is slow and difficult, since the entire construction runs, on only rudimentary iron slides.
I am posting my pictures of Mt Etna here, I only traveled through Messina on my way to Mount Etna.
Mt Etna is Europe's largest volcano and one of the world's most active. It is one of Siciliy's biggest tourist attractions and a unique place for hiking and also for skiing
Mt Etna has been active for half a million years and the landscape is constantly changing with each eruption. The higher elevations of the volcano sre mostly brown,but there is still some plant life present here such as lichens and chamomile.
Taormina and surroundings
Taormina (204 metres) the most celebrated tourist spot in all of Sicily and placed in front of the gigantic mass of snow covered Etna and dominates a valley studded with innumerable beautiful panoramas. Founded in 358 B. C. by colonist coming from Naxos it became the centre of an industrious life for all antiquity. Conquered by Muslims in 902 A. D. it flourished again with the Normans and established close relations with Messina, in whose shadows it existed. Cut off from the route after the construction of the coastal road by the Bourbons, Taormina began to develop its tourist vacation in the wake of the descriptions of travellers of the 18th century and arranged ample accommodation intended for the hospitality for guests following the suppression of the religious guilds in 1866. In 1868 the Prussian baron Ottone Geleng, after the letter of Italienische Reise by Goethe, stayed a long time and portrayed the most suggestive corners of the place in paintings that he then exhibited in Paris. From that moment Taormina became a centre of an èlite tourism for the French and Prussians.
Following the cholera of 1875, the nobility of Palermo took refuge in Taormina and built grand villas. In 1874 the first hotel was built and successively the photos taken by Baron Von Gloeden diffused images of the city as a site of a Greek Mythical civilization.
Through the Corso Umberto that winds between the Porta Messina and Porta Catania, Taormina is characterised by flights of steps and old streets and is rich with monuments. To name only a few; the Greek Theatre, built in the Hellenistic era and site of innumerable performances and from the Cavea it bestows an inspiring view of Etna; the Naumachie constitutes one of the most important Roman ruins in Sicily; Palazzo Corvaja built in the 11th-14th century and the Palazzo dei Duchi di S. Stefano of the mid 13th century, Badia Vecchia, Palazzo Ciampoli, The Cathedral, S. Caterina church.
Apart from its historical and archaeological wonders, Taormina is host to one million tourists a year and offers accommodation for every type of cliente. There are pizzerias, elegant restaurant, bars, famous local night-spots and a general assortment of captivating sights.
In Taormina, the riches of the past, mix with modern-day-comforts - a combination which pleases even the most demanding tourist. It is in fact customary, for the city to unite past and present, to create true attractions out of ancient traditions: the Christmas bonfire, the celebration of the Patron Saint, Pancrazio of Antiochia, the Easter holiday; especially Good Friday when Taormina appears, as it must have been during the Middle Ages - shrouded in darkness broken here and there, by the red glow of torces in the old village. When the procession of the "Varette" passes, its simplicity and emotion, remind us of our lost innocence.
Then, when the ceremonies end, Taormina re-explodes once again, in all its dazzling glory to become the beautiful, festive and hospitable city which it is every day and night.
The Greeks originally built the Theatre in the 3rd century BC. This is evident by the fact that there is an inscription bearing the name of Filistide, wife of the Syrecusan king Hiron II. The ruins of the Theatre are not purely Greek, however, as alterations were made when the Romans were sovereigns of the city. The Theatre was a focal point of great social importance in Greek cities, it was a place not only for entertainment but also where to meet people, to give and receive information. The Greek theatre interpreted tragedies, stories referring to every day life, happiness and sorrow that the audience could relate to. Shows started early in the morning and finished at sunset, giving everyone the opportunity to choose the preferred hour of viewing. The first tragedy performed on this stage was "The Persians of Eschilo".
All the Greek theatres in Sicily are situated so that one can view the sea, allowing the audience to enjoy the beauty of the surroundings simultaneously as being entertained. This is also the case of the Theatre in Taormina, overlooking the Ionic Sea with the Etna towering over it. In order to perceive this beauty most efficiently, the Greek Theatre was uncovered, shaped like a shell, utilising the shape of the mountain. This theatre shape is the traditional Greek style securing a flawless acoustic. Seated in the on the upper rows, one can even today hear what said on stage with impeccable audibility. The building was partially rebuilt by the Romans in the 2nd century BC, as they wanted to utilise it in another manner. The Theatre was no longer used for peaceful displays of spoken art, but for animal or gladiator fights, the ultimate aim being the death of one of the contestants. Gladiator originates from the Latin word Gladium that was the name of a double-edged sword used by the fighters. The parts of the ruin that are made in red brick are the additions and alterations made by the Romans. The scenery was closed off with two rows of columns holding up a majestic architrave, but this has been destroyed by the tear of time leaving only the lower parts of the 16 columns. The ruin is at present thus a mixture of Greek and Roman styles and uses, some of the original Greek structures have been revealed as time has removed the later additions. Two of the three doors that were used by the actors to enter stage remain, as do niches and nooks in the walls. The vases and statues that used to decorate these are however lost. There is a long, low portico along the back of the stage wall, which was used as cover by the actors when it rained, while the spectators were covered by a gigantic velarium which covered the cavea. The two large structures flanking the stage are parascenia, probably changing rooms for the actors.
The Theatre was abandoned when the Romans were driven from the city, and the subsequent occupants of the city left it unused. The marble that adorned the Theatre was removed, and reused in other buildings. The altar in Chiesa Madre was built in part of marble taken from the Theatre, so are many of the columns that grace city buildings. The Theatre as we find it today is thus but a shell of its former glory, it is nevertheless of great interest for its archaeological value and its locations with view of the Calabrian coast, the Ionian cost of Sicily, and Etna. It is indeed a historic monument speaking to us with a voice from the past; a voice that we as citizens of today's society can learn greatly from.
The "Isolabella" , cliff lump of vegetation , geologic carved reef gem of immense beauty is the top Taormina coast delight .
At easy reach by a panoramic staircase , this piece of immersed nature connected to the meanland by a thin sandy trail ; is today a natural park managed from the WWF Italy .
Once on the beach it is ppossible to admir the bay , protected by high rocky walls of the two capes .
A visit here is a must , possibly by taking a pleaent boat ride to the famous "Grotta Azzurra" Blue Grotto (We can organise with personal guid at your convenient time) .
Considered Sicily's oldest Greek city, is located just a few kilometers from Taormina (in the locality known as Giardini-Naxos) near Cape Schisò. Little remains here except for structural foundations and the pavement stones of ancient streets, but Naxos was once a flourishing city much larger than ancient Taormina. It was founded by the Chalcidensians as Sicily's first Greek colony in 735 BC.