The drive to Linguaglossa (our only AirB&B stop) was almost uneventful, save the troublesome stops at a couple of toll booths, used by Sicilians to support a depressing socialism, with welfare, obscenely long vacations, childcare, and low crime. Takers! But I digress—as we did on the last kilometer (the American word “mile” is shorter…ha ha ha) trying to find the street listed, deceptively, as our destination. Rick navigated the narrow turns that took us around the target a few times until, by astounding serendipity, Stephanie saw a faded scrawl on the side of a building that could have been graffiti but was in fact our
street paved path. This passage was easy to miss—as likely to have been a wide doorway as street, meandered 100 meters uphill, its ungenerous girth regularly narrowed by a pipe or wire on a building. There were, need I say, no sidewalks.
We squandered 30 minutes or so trying to rouse our host or disturb a neighbor enough to pry a free hint as to where to put our bags when a smiling refugee on a bicycle greeted us with limited Italian and no English, coaxing us to follow him to the “House of Stone.” He rode charitably slow, given how easy it is to negotiate streets on a 2-wheeled vehicle—no fair. Nice place, though.
If only all towns had streets as Bertha-wide as the driveway. This view, featured on the AirB&B web site, is not visible from the listed address, on the street below. (The owner should consult for treasure-hunt apps on iPhones.) Basta with the complaints already.
Our spirits undampened by frustration or occasional sprinkles, we set off for the 15 km drive to Taormina, which missing would have been a grievous error.
The popular tourist town is owed another visit, as we did not get down to the beach, at least 100 meters below, or to the castle, a couple hundred meters above. If ever I take a Mediterranean cruise (when I am much older), Taormina must be on the itinerary. Spending a week on its beach is looking more attractive all the time. Lie in the morning sun, hike to the town for lunch, ask the local girls to braid my hair…what is left of it.
The town’s fame has been enhanced by the work of the German photographer, Wilhelm von Gloeden, who photographed many nudes, mostly male, in the early 20th century. Today, he could spend three life sentences in an American prison for having models who were younger than 18, though in Europe, he’s considered an artist.
Gloeden lived most of his life in Taormina, which can be considered a tribute to his good taste…as is his choice of subjects [in my homo opinion].
Before we found the primary tourist street inside the town’s walls, we lighted upon a perfectly acceptable outdoor place to lunch with a delicious rosé wine. In Italy, even simple meals are served with care. I saw no fast food in Taormina…or almost anywhere else in Sicily. Fast food in Italy is a stop by the gelato shop on a hot afternoon, not a meal. Meals are fleeting joys, like full moons, to be enjoyed whenever possible. How did Americans come to believe that a chance to sit with friends over a casual repast and conversation is something to be rushed, like the incongruous oxymoron “fast food”?
I am determined to climb to this castle one day. (Better be quick about it.) There is a spectacular Greek theatre on a lesser hill, which we did not visit for lack of time (lines of tourists). A week here, with time invested on a sandy beach, would barely be adequate.