Sunday, 22 November 2015

Taormina - unfaded grandeur.

Europe's old, aristocratic resorts are almost always interesting places to wander around. We've visited quite a few now. Some have become somewhat faded- Bournemouth, Benicassim, Spa, Le Touquet, all places we have visited and appreciated their threadbare grandeur. They are slightly melancholy places, once stylish, but now down at heel. Some. however, have prospered and managed to maintain a modicum of style and charm - Antibes and Cannes on the Riviera, the Italian Ligurian resorts, Marbella - these are all places that manage to balance being a bit glitzy with popular appeal. Taormina, a short, but terrifying bus ride from where we are camped at Parking Linari, is somewhere else that has managed to retain a bit of old world glamour. Given our beach bum existence over the last six weeks its civilised and convivial atmosphere felt almost decadent.

Taormina is perched high above the sea, an ancient town - some of its houses' are built on the foundations of the Greek 6th Century stoa. It must be impressive to be able to claim that your damp-proof course is 2500 yeas old! Apart from being venerable, stylish and beautifully sited with a view across the bay towards Etna, Taormina draws the crowds because of its well preserved ancient theatre. We have visited it previously, and having wandered around many a Greek ruin over the past couple of months we've decided to sample some yummy local delicacies in a cafe, then tomorrow, tah dah!!!  eat out for lunch rather than go sightseeing.

Taormina - spectacular setting

The cathedral square overlooks the sea

 public fountains that people still drink from...

At sunset the square becomes a gathering place

Etna at twilight
The lush public gardens

Etna selfie
Lenticular clouds on Etna
The cafe next to the taxi rank - the drivers hang out here - we figured it must be good.
Arancini - rice with a ragu and mozzarello wrapped in breadcrumbs
Cannolo - doughy tube filled with creamy ricotta and tutti frutti - fabulously calorific!

Gill practices Sicilian gesture - overcome by her cannolo!
Views from the table...

Taormina is a bit too precipitous to have a Sosta. Camping Linari is situated below, on the coast at Giardini Naxos. The town is really little more than a beach strip of budget hotels and apartments, but it too has an ancient history as the name 'Naxos' indicates. This unassuming little resort is the first colony of Magna Graecia founded by islanders from Naxos in the ninth century BC. The town's extensive archaeological park is just across the road from Parking Linari. It has a small museum, so we will probably visit it this afternoon as after yesterday's ominous lenticular clouds over Etna, the weather has become unsettled, so indoor activities are the order of the day.

Part of Nsxos ancient walls - 8th Century BC

17th centurywatch  tower -part of a series designed to protect coastal communities from pirate attack.
Giardini Naxos promenade with cloud covered Etna.
Otherwise, Giardini Naxos offers mundane, but not unpleasant charms, a stroll up to the small harbour with its modern sculpture of Nike, a Saturday flea market selling junk, but with a few interesting food stalls. It is an ordinary place in an extraordinary setting.

Another see through Nike
Giardinin Naxos' Saturday market..

lots of tacky stuff

and a few  growers selling local  produce

Where we are staying at Parking Linari has quite a few long stay campers. I can understand why. It is very well managed, kept in pristine condition by its attentive owners. It is near the bus station, offering all kinds of excursions, as well the hourly short bus ride to Taormina. It was great to bump into Jean and Malcom who I've met on- line on the Motorhomes Adventures Facebook group. They are here for a month, and in Sicily possibly until next March, so our paths may cross again. 

In less than a fortnight we will be back in Buxton; it's not an alluring prospect as the two photographs of comparative weather forecasts I posted on Facebook the other day shows.

It will be great to see our kids, other than that I can't think of any advantages at all of a sedentary existence compared with our itinerant life. So it's a countdown to Catania airport on the 5th of December, but via Syracuse, Noto, Punta Secca, Ragusa, Piazza Armerina and Falconara. Just writing the place names yet to be visited lifts my spirits - like a kind of magical incantation.... 'Heels for Dust!'


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