This morning Helena and I were up early to go explore the nearby town, Castelmola. I didn’t realize until after making plans with her the night before that my wanderings last Sunday up the hills and back roads of Taormina had actually taken me to Castelmola. No matter, today I knew where I was going and had my good camera with me.
It is a joy to walk the streets of Taormina at 8AM on a Sunday morning. The usually packed streets are empty, with only a few street cleaners out.
Our first stop was at the lovely little chapel Madonna della Rocca located about 15-20 minutes up a long staircase. I don’t know the story of the church but it is built right into the rock. This weekend there was also a festival at the church, including a few fireworks in the evening. There is also a special dinner for the festival of roasted lamb that Aurelio and Angela served us that same evening. From here you can walk another 45 minutes or so up to the next hill to the town of Castelmola.
This is where I went last weekend and we eventually hooked up with the back road that I had taken up before. It’s a steep hard climb but there are interesting plants and flowers along the way. Castelmola is a picturesque little town perched on top of hill. There is stone piazza at the base of the castello.
The morning light was quite nice against the stone. We wandered through the narrow streets and found a couple of other little chapels as well as the main Duomo piazza. Mass was in progress and from the piazza you could hear the parishioners singing. Just across from the Duomo there is a famous bar that Aurelio told us has great Vino di Mandorla (Almond Wine) since it was barely 10:00 in the morning we decided leave the bar for another time. This bar has become so popular that, according Aurelio, the owner has become a millionaire and now owns half of Castelmola. The walk back to Taormina was the same as last week, but since it was earlier in the morning the sun wasn’t so harsh and there were great view looking back on Mt. Etna. As we passed through the prickly pears (fico d’India in Italian, fico meaning fig) Helena told me about how she tried to pick and eat the fruit the week before only to discover too late that they were covered in small thorns. I guess there aren’t many prickly pears in Prague. We also found a fig tree with a couple of ripe figs within reach. Back in Taormina we headed for our well earned gelato. Limetta e fragole(lime and strawberry) for Helena and cioccolato e nocciola (chocolate and hazelnut) for me. Helena loved the idea of having gelato for lunch and kept repeating gelato a pranzo (gelato for lunch). Yes I’m now a fan of gelato a pranzo.
Aurelio makes orange marmalade and eats it by the jarful, often eating two piece of bread overflowing with marmalade after dinner. I have to say it is quite good and I have it every morning for breakfast. In the one week since I’ve been here we must have gone through three jars already. He makes two kinds they call dolce and amaro (sweet and bitter) made from two different kinds of oranges. The dolce is really more of fresh type of marmalade and is not cooked as long, while the amaro does have a more bitter sweet flavor, not so unlike the marmalades we have at home, although more bitter. It also has a more cooked jelly like consistency. I personally prefer amaro.