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Guy de Maupassant in La Vie errante, 1885, wrote: If someone were to spend just one day in Sicily and asked: "What must one see?" I would answer without hesitation: "Taormina".
Taormina was founded as a tourist city, because Sicilians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Saracens chose to stay there long-and not only for political reasons. The Normans, particularly, consecrated it as the seat of the tourist, residential and became, since then, the centre of congresses and conferences, visits and stays.
In 1787, stayed in the J. W. Goethe, accompanied by the draftsman Kniep. But it was only towards the end of the nineteenth century that Taormina reached the apex of fame as a place of stay international. Began to flow in ever more massive, the wealthy and noble English, and many of them purchased in the villas. Soon they were joined by north americans, austro-Hungarian, baltic, belgian, swiss, Dutch, German. The characters, the most prestigious of all Europe visited Taormina. Among the many other artists and writers, in addition to the above mentioned Goethe, Edmondo De Amicis, Alexander Dumas, Gustav Klimt, D. H. Lawrence, Guy de Maupassant, Luigi Pirandello, Bertrand Russell, Leonardo Sciascia, Elio Vittorini, Oscar Wilde.
The young painter was the prussian Otto Geleng came to Taormina for a short visit, but remained there until his death. Among the musicians and conductors we remember Johannes Brahms, Leonard Bernstein, Nikita Magaloff, Richard Wagner. Among the men of the cinema, the theatre and the show, which countless have visited Taormina, is reminiscent of Michelangelo Antonioni, Ingmar Bergman, Francis Ford Coppola, Edoardo De Filippo, Marlene Deitrich, Eleonora Duse, Federico Fellini, Greta Garbo, Cary Grant, Marcello Mastroianni, Gregory Peck, Tyrone Power.
If you want to anchor the history of modern tourist resort of Taormina for a initial date, you can set the date 1870, the year in which is completed the railway Siracusa-Catania-Messina. Another important event was the inauguration in 1874 of the Hotel Timeo. In 1904, these were the most important hotels in Taormina, as it is in a publication published in New York: San Domenico, Timaeus, Metropole, Castello a Mare, the Naumachie, the Victory.
Over more than a hundred years, tourism in Taormina has had ups and downs. But the city remained, and still remains the dream of tourists from around the world who love the beauties of nature and want to experience the emotions of art.
Writes Peter Rizzo in his book Tauromenium: From mount Tauro, the theater, the church of the Madonna della Rocca and the Castle, the view flows freely from the mountains to the sea and the horizon in the coastal south toward Catania, and for the foot to the smoking crater of Etna, immense and imposing, and you can admire to the north the line of the coast which runs towards Messina always beautiful and picturesque. From those different places prospects and marvelous landscapes of light and color, distances fluffy green hills, glimpses and profiles of country and the cliffs steep and pendants, poggioli green crowned with white houses and marine beaches on which the shadows of the houses of the beach will reflect stretching upside down in the water under a clear brilliance and dazzling.
He writes, in his turn, Philip Calandruccio in Beehive: As in the Thousand and one night, there are those who don't feel like Bulukiya, the young sultan that they walk the streets of the world to meet Mohammed and will be an island of rare enchantment, very similar to the paradise of Islam, to appease his anxiety research. Now this Taormina, island of happiness, reality and fairy tale.
Deciding to take a holiday in Sicily, we could establish our destination in the vicinity of Messina and more specifically in Giardini Naxos, a beautiful country, which was founded in 756.C. by the greeks who landed in Schisò, one of the most beautiful beaches of Giardini Naxos.
The beautiful resort of Giardini Naxos is the ideal place for those want an holiday of relax, fun and culture but is also a perfect stage for a stopover in an itinerary that includes other beautiful cities of sicily, such as Taormina, Fontanarossa, Agrigento and Palermo.
As we have already said, Giardini Naxos is a small town very ancient, whose interesting origins are told in the Archaeological Park, one of the many things to see in Giardini Naxos.
The Archaeological park covers about forty acres, and is situated between Capo Taormina and Capo Schisò. Inside we can admire archaic sacred buildings surround from simple buildings for dwelling purposes and furnaces used to smelt the clay, are also visible the remains of the ruined walls that surrounded this complex.
Some of the artifacts found in this place are visible in the Archaeological Museum located in a fort built in the XVII-XVIII century, another one of the attractions or things to see in Giardini Naxos.
Among the other things to see to Giardini Naxos we point out the buildings of worship, such as:
the Church of Santa Maria of the letter kind in the EIGHTEENTH century, in which are preserved various works of art;
the Church of san Pantaleone in which we can observe the remains of the ages that have crossed, from the roman to the ancient up to the modern;
the Church of San Giovanni, located at the homonymous beach.
The castle of Schisò
Not to be missed, among the things to see in Giardini Naxos, the Castle of Schisò which is a military fortification built in the middle ages.
We can go through the streets of this small town we discover that there are also other things to see, such as the Greek statue iron “Nike” by Carmelo Mendola in the district of Recanati, which was erected to commemorate the twinning declared solemnly, in 1965, between Giardini Naxos and Chalkida Evia again, plunging instead into the streets of the neighborhood to the south, we discover that in some ways are still visible the remains of the roman via Consolare Valeria, and still the statues of Teocles and Silenus, the port of Naxos and the Temple of Olympic.
Not to miss is the Park Apollo Archegeta where you can admire the ruins of an ancient Greek sanctuary.
What to see in Giardini Naxos yet? There were the natural History Museum where are exhibited collections of mineralogical, paleontological and malacologiche and river Park of Alcantara.
Finally, reflecting on what to see in Giardini Naxos, we mention the waterfront of beautiful day, the life of the party in the evening. Among lidos and free, it extends a the beach beautiful, which is composed of sandy beaches and pebble, which are all united by the beauty of the crystal clear sea, ideal for those who love diving.
The valley of the Alcantara under the geomorphological profile has different features along the path from the mouth to the source and along the left and right slopes that characterize the catchment area of the territory.
In the upper-middle part the morphology is typical of the Nebroidea and Peloritana ranges, while in the valley area the Etneo domain characterizes the Catania side and the same watercourse with the formations of spectacular lava walls and depressed areas called pots that form the gurne features .
The valley territory near the mouth is characterized by a large floodplain.
The flow rate of the riverbed is due in the medium-high part to the superficial flow of the meteoric waters; while in the middle valley the underground waters of the Etneo side surface and mix with the superficial ones.
This situation gives the river a status of perennial river, one of the main ones in Sicily and the only one to be protected by a river park.
The river Alcantara owes its fame to the particular lava formations visible today in different parts of its course.
In prehistoric and protohistoric times its riverbed was affected by the invasion of massive lava flows coming from the northern slope of Etna; the castings have subsequently reached the ancient river bed, sometimes obstructing or modifying its course.
The slow, incessant flow of water has gradually brought to light the lava body, with typical vertical cracks.
Columnar basalts, the result of the process of erosion and slow cooling, take forms of varying thickness and orientation: from the "organ-like" type to the "fan-like" or "woodpile" type. The sites of greatest volcanological interest are the Gorges, where between the narrow lava walls the river flows incessantly, and the Cone of Mojo Alcantara with black-reddish stratified pyroclasts.
Also going up from the mouth up to the source of the river, visible in some stretches along the way the most recent lava of Etna eruption.
The Alcantara Gurne
In the stretch between Castiglione and Francavilla di Sicilia, the Alcantara, thanks to the incessant erosive action carried out for millennia on the lava flows, has created a series of pools with a round shape known as the Gurne.
These pools of water create the ideal habitat for the life of aquatic plants such as the Ranunculus penicillatus and the duckweed (Lemma minor gibba), typical of the most continental climates.
The Ranuncolo brush in Sicily is found only along the course of Alcantara and Fiumefreddo. It is a perennial hydrophyte plant that usually lives in cold water. Flowering occurs between April and July. With its surprising carpet blooms, aquatic buttercup is the first among the plants of the swamp to announce the advent of summer.
The volcanic cone of Monte Mojo
It is located to the north of the volcanic Mount Etna, on the left bank of the Alcantara River, near the town of the same name.
Morphologically it appears, seen from the South, in its perfect trunk-conical shape. The volcanic cone Mount Mojo was implanted outside the Etna volcanic edifice, emerging directly on the sedimentary (Argille variegate).
The results of geoseismic prospecting, the data obtained from mineralogical analyzes and the abundance of incoherent ejected products, make it possible to place Mount Mojo among the eccentric craters of the Etna volcanic edifice.
An eccentric crater is a secondary volcanic opening which has an eruptive conduit not connected to the central conduit of the main volcano, but which draws directly into the underlying magmatic basin.
The legend of Mojo
A curiosity about the Mount: an ancient legend tells of two twin brothers, owners of a field near Mojo.
Both cultivated their plot with diligence even if one of the brothers was blind. The sight was a mariolo; at each harvest he shared the product with his brother, but he kept a huge quantity for himself and left the crumbs blind to him, since he could not account for the fraud. Over the years the fraudster had accumulated an immense heap of wheat. But the fact reached the ears of the Gods who thought to punish the lestofante by throwing a lightning bolt that incinerated his sly brother and turned the pile of wheat into the volcano of Mojo.
The Alcantara Gorges
The Alcantara River has created in different parts of the characteristics lava holes, known locally as gorges, with overhanging vertical walls.
Entering the spectacular and narrow Gorge of the Larderia district, better known as the Gole dell'Alcantara, the particular basaltic prisms are evident, extending for a distance of about 400 meters, a few meters narrow and with walls up to 50 meters high .
Over time, many artists have attempted to describe, reproduce and fix the images of a unique natural scenery that, in 2010, obtained the European recognition of European Destination of Excellence (EDEN).
Le Lave di contrada Melicocchita
It is a Hawaiian surface morphology lava field which, due to its scenic beauty and volcanological interest, is unique not only along the Alcantara valley but also on the entire northern side of Etna.
The area is correlable with the effusive activity of Monte Dolce (863 m asl), eccentric cone of the protohistoric age with basaltic magmas of the Hawaiian family with morphological structures typical of the pahoehoe lavas: rope, drapery, guts and slabs .
But the peculiarity of the Contrada Melicocchita lavas (visible near Castiglione di Sicilia, contrada Verzella) are the crests of pressure or pressure ridge: they are swollen, circular or oval, of the back of a lava flow produced by the thrust of the gas accumulated under the surface part of the partially solidified casting due to the impossibility of expanding due to the presence of morphological obstacles.
These structures are formed only during long-lasting eruptions with the creation of extensive lava fields fed by lavas that flow inside a real network of pipes or tunnels: in fact there are numerous caves of volcanic flow that are found in these lavas.