Tuesday, March 21

We awoke early this morning in hopes of gaining a good view of Mr. Etna which we were told is often only visible in the mornings. We were rewarded with a beautiful view and could even make out the smoke coming from the mouth of the volcano. By mid-morning, however the view had disappeared behind mist and fog that later turned into clouds.

We spent the morning exploring more of Taormina's many ceramic shops, antique stores and bakeries/sweet shops. Katie purchased a beautiful necklace made of coral and volcanic rock that she plans to string with a gold charm of Sicily's trinacria (a three-legged Medusa which is the traditional symbol of Sicily).

We also explored the Teatro Greco (Greek Amphitheater) built in the 3rd century BC. The Greeks placed it perfectly atop the town with an opening that allowed the Ionian Sea and Mt. Etna to act as backdrops to the stage. Unfortunately, the Romans remodeled it in the 2nd century AD, closing the backdrop and altering the stage to incorporate an arena for gladiators. Time has worn away many of the Roman's changes making the spectacular view and Greek elements evident once again. The amphitheater currently hosts a summer film festival.

Cable cars took us from the town's summit down to the beach. We have heard that this coastline and beach is considered one of the most beautiful in Sicily, but we were disappointed. The area was small with relatively little sand. The hotels and restaurants were literally on top of the coastline and appeared run down. The kids had fun collecting sea glass and shells before we headed back up in the cable cars. While we were one of only a few along the shore today, we have seen postcards that show the beaches crammed with sunbathers and boats during the summer. We'll stick with Cape Cod!

Next we purchased cheese, bread, salami, olives and pastries for a picnic lunch which we enjoyed overlooking the ocean in a beautiful public garden. We have grown especially fond of the salami here and David literally lives on it at breakfast time. Today we found ourselves sharing our lunch with one of the many cats (gattos) that room all Sicilian towns. This one was particularly interesting - it was all white with one blue eye and one green eye.

We spent the rest of the afternoon climbing Mount Tauro, a small hill just adjacent to the town with the ruins of an old castle and small church. A series of steps makes the ascent a bit easier, and we were glad for the exercise and nice view of Taormina.













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