Our Tuesday began with a visit to the World War II museum in Catania. While I am not generally a big fan of war museums, this one was well done and had some interesting features. You enter the museum in a room replicating a town plaza in the time of Mussolini complete with fascist flags and slogans. When a siren sounds, you are ushered into a mock shelter. As you sit there in near darkness, the room shakes, sirens sound, and you hear planes overhead and bombshells dropping outside. It reminded me of what it must be like at home to sit through a hurricane with storm shutters covering all your windows. You emerge from another door to the shelter to find the same plaza in ruins. While that was certainly the most dramatic exhibit, there were plenty more that showed uniforms and weapons and other information about the Allied liberation of Sicily.
Our primary destination for the day was Taormina, a hilltop town about an hour north of Catania, Several people had told us it was their favorite destination in Sicily. When I read what Rick Steves had to say the night before, he described it as too touristy and not his favorite. While it is certainly in a beautiful location, we would have to agree with Rick.On the way there, I was on the right side of the bus to get a shot of Mount Etna.Taormina has one main street about a mile long filled with tourist shops with a gate at each end.It has the required churches.It has lots of attractive balconies.It even has overlooks onto the Mediterranean Sea which many cities don’t have.This is a shop featuring marzipan made to look like different fruits. It is also famous for granita, something like a slushee or what Susan calls Italian ice. I tried a raspberry lemon granita for desert and found it very refreshing.
But the main attraction in Taormina is the Greek-Roman Theater. The Theater is located at a high point in town and has magnificent views of Mount Etna, the Mediterranean, and the surrounding mountains.This shot shows the town of Taormina. If you look at the mountain above the left brick wall, you will see a valley that looks like a “u”. If you squint and look closely at the mountain top to the left of that valley, you will see some trees and buildings.This is a close up of those trees and buildings. Talk about living on the edge!Some more shots from the theater. We think we would like to live in the house in the center of the spit of land in the middle picture,This is the view from the cheap seats of the theater. On a clearer day you could see Mount Etna. The wooden stage and the plastic seats at the bottom are added because they have concerts here in the summer. Their season is over now and they are going to be removed next week and reinstalled at the beginning of the season next year.The stage area. While there is a lot to like about Taormina, we agree that it is too crowded and touristy. And we were there after the peak of the tourist season.
Tomorrow we leave Sicily and head to Malta for five nights on our own.