Thursday, September 29, 2016

Sicily - Taormina

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Taormina is an old town on a hill in Sicily. The town dates back to the Greeks, but it has been "remodeled" over the millennia by Romans, Spaniards, Normans, and more. As a consequence, the architecture dates from 500 BC to the late 1800s.

A view of Taormina from the harbor at Giordini Naxos.
The reciprocal view from the old Greek Theatre in Taormina.
Aside from being a picturesque town, Taormina's main draw is the magnificent Greek theatre ("Odeon"). I learned all sorts of things about theaters on this trip. First, an "amphitheater" does not mean an open-air theater (they were all open-air back then!), but a "double" theater -- that is, a theater-in-the-round. Romans used amphitheaters (e.g. the Colosseum) because their events were more like modern-day sporting events. Greek theaters were for presenting plays and music. They always faced the ocean, with a columned, but open back to the stage. The natural breeze off the ocean not only kept the audience cooled, but also aided in the acoustics. At Taormina, Mt. Etna provided a backdrop, although today the summit is hidden behind clouds.
The back wall of the theater.
"We were here" -- yours truly at the theater.
Brick and rock wall in Taormina.
Prickly pear cactus is grown as a crop in Italy, Sicily, and Malta. It is used as an edible fence in many places.
Fresh octopus for dinner. The chef says that hanging octopus in the sun for 2 or 3 hours tenderizes it.

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