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Sicily: Taormina and Catania

ITALY | Wednesday, 1 March 2023 | Views [37]

Elephant Statue and Duomo, Catania

Elephant Statue and Duomo, Catania

WITH SYRACUSE OUT OF THE WAY and heavy snow making Mt. Etna out of the question, we decided to drive to Taormina for the afternoon. We weren’t particularly interested in another 3rd Century Greek theater but rumor has it Taormina is famous for its cannolis. We may have changed our minds if we had known that the road in was one-way, up, up, uphill to enter and down, down, down to leave. Unless you have a resident placard or are a scofflaw—guess which category we fit—there is virtually no parking near the Old City.  


               No cars and no parking


                  Taormina, cute and quiet today


                           Cannoli, desert of champions

Taormina must be hopping in the summer, especially when the cruise ships are in port. Today it was really charming—and quiet, just the way we like it.  As we expected, the Greek Theatre didn’t compare to others we’ve visited like Aspendos and Myra in Turkey but the cannoli lived up to its reputation.


                       Third Century Greek Theatre in Taormina


                       A better example from Myra, Turkey

Figuring Catania had to be more than our dodgy neighborhood, we followed the tourist route on Wednesday, on foot so we wouldn’t lose our parking spot. Stop #1 was Teatro Massimo Vincenzo Bellini. Bellini was an opera composer whom, like many others of his ilk, we’ve never heard of. Even so he is known as “Swan of Catania.”


                     Bellini Theater, Catania


                  Piazza dell Duomo, Catania


               University of Catania, Go Friars??

Every town worth its Aglio e Olio has a Piazza del Duomo and a duomo to go with it. Catania’s is unique because of the elephant statue standing center-stage. For some reason during the 9th to 11th Century Muslim rule Catania was know as Madinat al-fīl, “The City of the Elephant. The Duomo itself is quite nice, too. A bit farther on we came upon Catania University, a former Dominican monastery. Those Dominicans didn’t skimp on decoration, either inside or out. 


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