Leisure trip: Taormina, Sicily, Italy

Helsinki, 21 degrees



The touch of an infinite mystery passes over the trivial and the familiar, making it break out into ineffable music...The trees, the stars, and the blue hills ache with a meaning which can never be uttered in words.

On the third day of our one-week-long summer holiday in Giardini Naxos, Sicily, Italy, me and my boyfriend decided to visit the nearby city Taormina that we had been seeing from Giardini Naxos since the city is mainly located up on a hill. Taormina, as Giardini Naxos, is located on the east coast of the island Sicily, about midway between Catania and Messina. Even before the Greeks arrived on the Sicilian coast in 734 BC to found a town called Naxos, the area around Taormina was inhabited. Nowadays Taormina has about 11 000 inhabitants. Have a look what we found in this historical city!

Before I continue to tell about our visit to Taormina, I wanted to clear something up first. Some of you readers have been writing me saying that you wonder why so many Finns are fascinated with Italy, and that you'd prefer to read about a holiday in Helsinki or Finland in general instead of Italy.

Well, here's my answer to these points. First, I do not agree that Italy is a common travel destination for Finns. Most Finns travel to Rome at least once during their lifetime on a city break but besides that, there are not many Italian cities that are widely visited by Finns. Of course, some travel to Milan, Venice or Tuscany but it's not as common.

For summer beach holidays, Finns travel much more to Spain and Greece, nowadays even to Turkey, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Balearic Islands and Thailand. Among my friends, I do not have any that speak Italian (except some of my colleagues). When I used to live in Milan as an au pair, I found about five Finns there in total doing the same as I was doing, and I do not think that is much. When I went on study exchange to Italy, among 140 students, we were about six Finnish ones there. Again, not many in my opinion. That doesn't mean that I would have something against the fact if it was true that Finns in general love Italy, but I just don't agree that it is so common. Loving a place can mean so many things. I don't think having a positive attitude towards a country or just liking its food equals loving a country. 

Furthermore, I wanted to add that I do love Helsinki and Finland, as I think my blog shows. I've dedicated my study and working life to my city, so I think that says enough about that point. I couldn't work as a destination marketer if I wouldn't be deeply in love with my home city. My relationship to Italy is very personal, I have worked a lot on it, and I do not like when people try to put me in a generalized locker. 

I will obviously still this summer visit our summer cottage, as I've done for the larger part of my life in summertime, I actually used to spend months there as a child (you can read about my visit there last year e.g. here). However, I will never belong to those Finns who go to their summer cottage every weekend they can. That is not for me and that is my personal choice. I don't think I need to justify it. For me, going to our cottage is special if I go there with my family. To sum up, I don't think one should generalize people according to the countries they come from and believe in stereotypes. Everyone is an individual and she/he knows best what makes her/him happy.


To return to our visit to Taormina, we wanted to try something we'd never tried before - driving with a scooter in Italy! Everyone knows that vespas are a common association to Italy, and we thought it would be fun to try living like a local, even for just one day, and jump on a scooter to go to Taormina! I must say, I give credit to my boyfriend who dared to drive in Italy, where the traffic differs quite a lot from the one in Finland. But it went very well, and I must add that it's a unique feeling being on a scooter with the wind blowing through your hair. That's la dolce vita (=the sweet life) for you! The best views driving up a hill is definitely on the back of a scooter!

Once we got to Taormina, we instantly noticed that it was very different from Giardini Naxos. Entering the gate called Porta Messina, one immediately noticed the feel of a city: Small and cute boutiques, bars, restaurants, grocery shops, ceramics shops, barber shops and ice cream shops. The fact that it was located up on a hill made it into one of those places that you stop to think: how can a place like this exist? I've seen these kind of places only in Italy. I can only try to imagine how life would be in a place like this. Suddenly it felt like we were in a completely different world, time kind of stood still in Taormina.


I fell straightaway in love with the pottery shops that Taormina has. I also found the icons that were visible in town, and that were for sale, to be truly striking. I loved the fact that they had used the sun as a general symbol of Sicily. The sun is such a happy symbol, don't you think? Seeing as I wear one everyday (as a tattoo), of course, the suns were of my liking.

The true symbol of Sicily is the Triskelion though, another fascinating symbol consisting of three bent human legs. Familiar as an ancient symbol of Sicily, the symbol dates back to when Sicily was part of the colonial extension of Greece. The origin of the triskelion of Sicily also has do to do with the triangular form of the island and the three large capes equidistant from each other, pointing in their respective directions. I really liked the fact that this symbol was actually visible everywhere in Sicily. It was one of the first things we saw when we arrived to Sicily, as a flag that the bus driver kept on his bus. When one encounters that kind of pride of origin, one can only be amazed, at least if you ask me.

I have once been told by an Italian professor that Italy is a never-ending theater play. I love that saying, and evidently I loved the different characters I saw in Taormina on pillars, water taps and balconies! So cool!


The small alleys and narrow streets were so charming! It was nice that even in an urban scenery like this, flowers were always present. There were a lot of impressing art galleries on the streets as well.


This idyllic fruit stand stood out for me since it illustrated all the local treats from fruit, spices, pistachio nuts, tomatoes, chocolate, almond milk, almond wine, tuna fish, anchovy to Limoncello!


I also found a little bit of Audrey Hepburn in Taormina. Turns out, she's been to the place, how small it might be. I usually don't care about where celebrities travel, but Audrey is an exception. After all, it was one of her movies that inspired me to go to Italy for the first time. Do you like to know the celebrities that have been to the travel destinations you go to?


Once we'd arrived to the middle gate, Porta di Mezzo, and the beautiful square Piazza IX Aprile, it was time to take some photos and enjoy a drink at the famous Mocambo Café, dating back to 1952. As the founder of the place wished, Mocambo Café is an ideal gathering place to pause, watch and reflect. So that's exactly what we did. The view was breathtaking, don't you agree? This was also the first place we heard genuine Sicilian music. I hope this video clip can give you an idea of the atmosphere at the square.


 My look in Taormina included Vero Moda's Kit neon yellow skirt that I found on my trip to Pärnu, Estonia (you can read about it here and here) and a striped top from H&M

Source

The most remarkable monument remaining at Taormina is the Greek Theater, built early in the seventh century BC, which is one of the most celebrated ruins in Sicily, on account both of its remarkable preservation and its beautiful location. So that is where we headed next! I found a cool photo of it in the 50's, and I actually preferred that version, without any seats. Talk about walking in historical footsteps!


What views! After having spent the day in Taormina, we ended up spending the afternoon beside it at Isola Bella, also known as "The Pearl of the Ionian Sea". That is what my next blog post will be about!

26 comments

  1. I am so glad that your holiday has been so so memorable! What an incredible view! Wow - your pictures are just stunning.
    the-creationofbeauty.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you Shannon, I'm glad you enjoyed the photos! :)

      xxx
      E

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  2. awesome skirt and dreamy place!

    Lyosha
    Inside and Outside Blog
    P.S. I’m hosting cool glasses/sunglasses giveaway here check it out!

    P.P.S. I find oyu blog very inspiring and following you now. I hope you might follow me back

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    1. Thank you Lyosha for your kind words!

      xxx
      E

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  3. The photos are like always amazing!
    this summer I am gonna reading something spanisch or italian to improve my language skills, I think the topic would be something humorous with a little insight into other cultures :)

    Wish you a beautiful summer, hope you travel a lot, cause I do :D !

    xx

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    1. Thanks Tanja! Where are you going to travel this summer?

      xxx
      E

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  4. wow, Taormina looks like the coolest little place! and once again it reminds me of the small villages in Crete. all the beautiful memories are coming back and I would probably go there for the third time too, if possible. btw, I checked out your post and we also visited Chania. it was in 2009 and in 2010 when those trips took place and I have tags/labels for them but I wrote only in Estonian back then. anyway, I really really really enjoyed your post and all the sunny photographs. oh and when you wrote about Vespas it reminded me of today when I drove an ATV for the first time in my life and gosh it was amazing! the wind blowing through my hair, the speed... it was just SO cool!
    ps. yes, Midsummer was/is the longest night here in Estonia. now it's getting only darker, boo.

    Maiken,
    Maikeni blogi - part of me

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    1. Funny, I didn't see anything like this on Crete. I've only seen places like this in Italy. It's nice if my pictures bring happy memories to mind.
      Oh, I've never driven an ATV, it must have been fun.

      xxx
      E

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  5. Hi dear, it must have been so fun weaving your way through the city on a scooter! The streets are so charming and the art is really interesting. I must commend you on the excellent photography, you have truly brought the best of Sicily to life. Love for sunny yellow skirt! I do remember your floral crown and how much I loved it. Thats so unusual that its worn to a sauna. Any reason why?Thanks for your visit doll! Happy Friday!

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    1. Yes, it was lots of fun! Thank you dearest Sam, it means a lot that you compliment my photography since I love taking photos. I should buy me a better camera though, but maybe in the fall. The floral crown in the sauna has to do with the magic spells our traditions tell us about :)

      xxx
      E

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  6. beautiful travel photos!!
    would you like to follow each other on gfc or bloglovin? let me know so i can follow back :)
    xx
    http://anoddgirl.blogspot.com.au

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    1. Thank you for your kind comment!

      xxx
      E

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  7. I love the neon skirt :-)

    Have a lovely day

    xoxo

    Piera Anastasia

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  8. i really like your neon skirt... and the place is really amazing!

    Anyway, I followed your blog, hope you can follow back, too!
    Thanks!

    It’s a GIRL Thing

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    1. Thanks Julie Ann! I really liked Taormina!

      xxx
      E

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  9. Thanks for taking some time for answering my comment. I'm afraid that due to my English there has been some kind of misunderstanding, as I didn't want to criticize your holiday choices or to encourage you to talk more about Finnish holidays. Of course the blog is yours, and it would be quite unpolite to tell you what to write about. I'm just glad you chose Italy as a destination for your vacation, and I was surprised (in a good way) to read how the classical Italian beach holidays can be enjoyed by a tourist coming from abroad. For what I was able to see during my time in Finland, I think that Finns have as well a wonderful way of enjoying the Summer and their holidays over there. We have two different ways of enjoying this time of the year, and they are both good. I'm still longing to enjoy the Summer "the Finnish way", and this is just a personal consideration apart from your blogpost which works for me, I wasn't trying to say that I would like to read more about Finnish holidays in your posts :)
    Your love for Helsinki is quite evident in your other blogposts, and your posts about Helsinki are one of the reasons for which I like reading this blog.

    What comes for Finns in Italy, I know that there aren't any big numbers, also because Italy is not that attractive for students from abroad, but the few people I met showed a lot of interest towards my country, and some also started learning some Italian, which warmed my heart. My first experience was when a Finnish girl came as an exchange student in my high school when I was 15. We became great friends and we are still in contact. In my zone, also because winter sports are more practiced than in other zones of Italy, there are some Finnish people who moved here. I have a couple of friends who are half Finnish and half Italian. I know that Italy is not that popular, but the Finnish people I met both here and in Finland showed a lot of respect and sometimes a real interest towards it. That's the only reason for which I used the term 'love', and I didn't want to be inappropriate.
    Apart from that, I don't like speaking in general as well, and what I say are personal opinions based on my own experience. I know that I still have a lot to learn, but I usually try not to cathegorize people. If I seemed like doing that, I'm sorry.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing some other stunning views from Sicily. Taormina looks enchanting :)

    Have a nice evening over there!



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    1. Thank you for your comment! I'm happy to hear that you do appreciate that there are different Finns and that we do have very individual opinions and preferences :)

      xxx
      E

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  10. Oh wow, this looks so beautiful! Great pics!

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  11. Beautiful pictures! We also saw many of these breathtaking places.
    I´m always interested about food as you know :). Did you find some special restaurant or amazing food?

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    1. Thank you for your comment! Yes, I've written about the food treats in Sicily in an earlier blog post :)

      xxx
      E

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