Saturday, August 11, 2007

Escape to Taormina

In our rented Mafia-black Renault Megane Cabriolet, with the top down and the wind in our hair, Boak and I hit the road today, bound for Taormina on the eastern coast of Sicily. It was a three hour drive on the autostrada, but manageable, and well worth it. Taormina was beautiful!

I’ve always dreamt of sitting at a table on a terrace overlooking the blue Mediterranean sea, surrounded by colourful geraniums, and sipping a chilled white wine – and today we did it!

The wine was very cheap, the meal was only pizza, and it wasn’t exactly the classiest trattoria in town, nevertheless it was one of those precious experiences. As the maitre d’ announced loudly (in Italian) as he took my hand and led me down the stairs to the terrace, “This will fulfil your fantasy!”

We trekked up the cobbled street to the Greek theatre where the view across the water, through the proscenium arches, was spectacular. There were road crews everywhere scrambling to set it up for a performance by Liza Minnelli next week, so it wasn’t possible to test out the theatre’s legendary acoustics, but I can just imagine the Greeks and Romans enjoying a performance there on a balmy summer evening.

The beach, which I rode down to on the cable car to see while Boak stayed up in the town, was a bit of a disappointment. As I’ve commented before, I think we are spoiled for beaches in Australia.

However the (window) shopping in the car-free town of Taormina on the hill was delightful, with lots of shops selling linen, antique jewellery and clothes. One of our French speaking delegates here at the conference tells me the French have a phrase for window-shopping (I forget just what it is) which roughly translates as “licking the window” – and I’ve done a lot of window-licking!

On the way home we pulled over to admire Mount Etna, smoking away in the background, then continued on and arrived in Palermo around 10.30pm. Boak handled the Italian roads quite well – though driving through a red light and up a one-way street just as we were almost back here was probably taking the Italian assimilation a tad too far.

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