|Taormina at night|
The main street, Corso Umberto I is lined with 14th & 15th century palazzi and a myriad of shops, offering traditional hand painted ceramics, tempting food and quite a few designer retail outlets. There are some antique shops and I was pleased to see some old puppets, with which Sicily has a long history, as I have a friend who is a puppeteer. Taormina is quite a glitzy town but off the main street are alleyways, quaint corners and balconies galore.
|Antique Sicilian puppets|
|Typical Taorminan street|
|Not overly suitable for cobbled streets|
|Flower laden balconies at every turn|
Best of all was the constant scent of citrus blossom, everywhere you turn there are orange and lemon trees; lying in bed the perfume drifted in.
|Citrus fruit everywhere|
|Orange & lemons at every turn|
Our first day we spent celebrating Andrew's birthday, which involved a long and leisurely lunch and sitting watching the beautiful people go by.
|Substitute birthday cake|
|Sicilian mountain road|
I have to confess to being a little disappointed in Cefalú which the guide books had said was a warrren of medieval streets. They were old and narrow but most of the buildings have been restored without much thought to retaining their history. There were lots of balconies (I like balconies) many with washing stretching over them. The small beach is still home to some fishing boats and is a popular place for the men to gather.
Etna rises behind Taormina and had had a small eruption the day before we arrived, thick black smoke marked the passage of the cooling lava flow, but we decided with a forecast of minus 3 and snow to give it a miss. Instead we explored the town and joined in the national pastime of just sitting and watching.
|Watching the world go by|
On our final day we headed to Noto, a baroque town in the south of the island. The original town was destroyed by an earthquake in 1693 and the government decided to rebuild away from the original site and commissioned the finest architects of the day. They co-operated to build a city with wide streets, squares to act as focal points and views everywhere. All the buildings are of honey coloured limestone and therein lies the problem. In 1986 a structural survey was undertaken and it was discovered that the buildings were in a state of such fragility that the slightest tremor would destroy them. The seriousness of the situation became apparent when the cupola of the cathedral collapsed in 1996. In 2002 UNESCO designated Noto as a world heritage site and funding was gained to save some of these stunning buildings.
|Unrestored in Noto|
Walking round the city you can see extreme contrasts between the buildings that have been restored and those that haven't. Some are now just façades, the buildings behind destroyed. But everywhere the details are beautiful, particularly some of the balcony supports.
The church of the Collegio has a white and gilded stucco interior and stairs up the bell tower with magnifcent views over the city.
|Baroque interior - Noto|
I'm not good on heights, nor slippery stairs, but I gritted my teeth, hung on to the rope and headed up. I have to thank Andrew for most of the photographs as I couldn't go near the edge, just stayed in the middle and took detail shots! Descending was even worse and at one stage Andrew seriously thought he would have to talk me down! My hand ached for ages from gripping the rope so tight and it took a double espresso to get me back to normal.
|It was a long way up, just that rope to hold|
|View from the bell tower|
As you can imagine we took a lot of photographs and if you want to see more then I've created a slide show for you to have a look. If you want to the them in a larger format just double click to get to the album.