Far From the Madd(en)ing Crowd

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With its breathtaking scenery, designer shops, Hollywood connections, and Greek theate, Taormina is a place that every tourist to Sicily wants to visit.

And they do. By boatloads.

Yesterday morning as we walked along Corso Umberto enroute to our car we passed at least 7 groups of cruise-ship passengers.

Yes, we had decided it was time for us to get out of Dodge. We wanted to be travelers for the day.

Our destination was the Alacantara Gorge. With a picnic lunch, bathing suits, and wading sandals, we were ready for a dose of Sicilian countryside.

“Hey, look at that church over there,” I said. Skillfully negotiating a u-turn, Don took us in the direction I pointed. A closer look revealed that this was not a church, but il cimitero, a cemetery. OK, we had seen plenty of Italian cemeteries before with walls of crypts. But this was different.

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The carved graves and family mausoleums were astoundingly beautiful. Truly they were works of art.

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And a heartbreaking monument to a mother and her baby, both of whom passed on the day of the baby’s birth. The marble gravesite was pristine and I was surprised to note that they had lain there together for nearly a century.

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But on to Alacantara. Sophia, our GPS guide, took us over hill-n-dale, or in Italy it’s more like mountain, hairpin turns, more mountains, more hairpins. We soon realized she was taking us HER way, not the easy way. But she’s an Italian signora. . . Sigh.

Eventually we found it, quite by accident. We dove into our picnic lunch. . .

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And then began our trek. Swimming wasn’t possible because the water was too rapid. But wading. . .YAY!!

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The gorge itself is amazing, with vertical striated rock formations. We guessed the shapes might have been formed by ancient lava flows.

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After some rock scrambling and wading, we headed back up il ascensiore, the elevator.

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After deciding NOT to take the autostrada back to Taormina , turning around when faced with a detour, circling the town to stay out of the dreaded ZTL( limited traffic zone=large fine), we got home. An evening of good food and wine at La Tavernetta Ristorante finished off the day!

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Buona notte!!

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