Sicily is home to Mount Etna, one of the most active volcanoes in Europe. Hey, for all we know it is one of the most active volcanoes anywhere. Etna was erupting earlier this year, so we were in hope of seeing some kind of eruption (even just a little venting of steam and ash?), but it was not to be. Here is our best view of Mount Etna:

Mount Etna hidden in clouds south of Taormina.

Our consolation prize was a visit to Taormina, a striking town built on terraces on a mountainside above the sea. The village centers along a main street (designated a pedestrian zone) that is narrow, congested, and difficult to photograph. The only cars we saw were mostly small, and traffic seemed limited to the next terrace above and next terrace below the main street. Here is a local church looming above the pedestrian zone, and backing up to the street on the next terrace up:

Taormina is built on terraces along the side of a mountain, so many of the views loom over you.

Just as in Florence and Rome, it seems like any place you excavate to start some new project, you have a good chance of running into unexpected artifacts or ruins from centuries before. In California, we have to take into account factors like shrinking/swelling clay, potential slope stability issues, or seismic risks; but in many of our ports of call you have to add archeological finds to the mix of things that could stop your work. For example, here are the remains of a small ampitheater discovered when a property owner started excavating to build a foundation:

Ruins of small ampitheater found during excavation for construction.

Taormina has many charming side streets (well, actually stairways) branching off of the main pedestrian route. Here is a typical stairway up towards the next terrace. They use flowers and other plants to dress up the homes and businesses, but we never saw anyone watering the flowerboxes. Maybe their version of a Mediterranean Climate includes rain?

Well-worn steps up to the next level of the town.

We were told that Sicily is famous for its citrus crops, and particularly for its thick-skinned lemons. Here was the display at a local market:

Produce market with Sicilian citrus and spirits.

Despite the cloud cover and cold wind, Taormina was great to explore. I will protect the guilty by omitting the photo, but the local businesses also included some gelato shops that provided a blood sugar boost as we completed our trek to the end of town and back.

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