Sicily 7: Taormina. I had slept terribly on Monday night, or rather I scarcely slept at all. My ankle was troubling me – discomfort is always worse at night – my cold was now full-blown, and I had a sore shoulder from my fall. I therefore decided to cut the morning’s programme of discussion on Sicilian writers, notably Sciascia and Verga, (of whom I had never heard) and to rejoin my companions at lunchtime. I was greeted at 12.45, ‘Have you heard the news? [Wifi was patchy in the bedrooms.] There’s to be a general election on 8th June.’
Well, that determined conversation over our meal – fortunately and not surprisingly we were all committed Remainers, so there was no falling out.
The afternoon’s programme was a visit to the nearby large town of Taormina. On being dropped, we made out way to the Greek/Roman amphitheatre. Taormina is to host the G7 for three days at the end of May, so it is being spruced up everywhere. I counted four separate work sites in the amphitheatre, each of them seemingly driven by a very noisy generator.And sadly the iconic (sorry!) view towards Etna was restricted by clouds over the volcano. Oh well, I had had a good view of it in 1975…The views north and south from the spot were wonderful. Francesca, testing out security, then marched the five of us into a very posh hotel nearby.She so much wanted us to see its gardens.Next it was the Parco Duca di Cesaro, created by the Englishwoman, Florence Trevelyan, two centuries ago. However, Britain, as it seemed to me, had been once of the few large powers before the nineteenth century never to have ruled Sicily. Evidence of occupations of Sicily was to be seen everywhere.
And then it was time to visit the ‘best place in Taormina’ for granita.
All around the town we had seen wonderful paintings on external walls. I regret not having taken more photos of them. But we stopped to have a particular look at these, which actually were not in the same style as the others. Francesca called on the owner of the house they ornamented, whom she knew to be the author of all these paintings, and chatted to him for a while.There were not only paintings everywhere we went but wonderful balcony decorations. Here is one near the painter’s house.But this had been my favourite, a feast for my eyes while my mouth was feasting on my granita.There was one more place to be visited. Geoff was very keen that we should see Fontana Vecchia, the former house of D H Lawrence. We had to tramp a bit for this, and we had some difficulty finding it. My ankle was troubling me and I was feeling very tired, so at one point I stopped, and sat on a low wall as the sun started going down, while the others continued searching. They were gone for what seemed to me a very long time. But I was delighted on their coming to pick me up to learn that not only had they found the house, but they been invited in by the current owner. One very happy group returned to Edoné – and I had managed to buy my amaro to take home.