Hello From Sicily – Italian Studies, a Pottery Lesson and a Hike Up Mount Etna

On a gorgeous morning following a good sleep after last night’s cooking lesson I woke up at about 6 am and stepped out on the balcony of my hotel room. The sun was just coming up, and the sky was filled with shades of purple and pink. Far away I could see the outline of a strip of land: the Italian mainland, more precisely the Region of Calabria, was visible on this clear day for the first time. The aerial distance between Taormina and the southern tip of Italy is about 40 kilometres, and this sunrise view across the Ionian Sea was simply gorgeous.

I decided to get up early and take a stroll through beautiful Taormina, before the hustle and bustle of the day would kick in. My hotel, Hotel Villa Nettuno, is located on the north side of town on Via Pirandello, outside of the city’s gates. I really enjoyed the location since it was quieter and yet just steps away from the amazingly busy Corso Humberto, Taormina’s main street in a pedestrian area.

Having strolled through the northeastern Porta di Messina I reached a still quiet piazza in front of the Palazzo Corvaja, seat of the first Sicilian Parliament and today the location of Taormina’s tourist office. A few of the locals were already up, taxi drivers were getting ready for their first fares, while the pedestrian street of Corso Humberto was still almost completely devoid of people. I reached Taormina’s main square: Piazza IX Aprile which features a large panoramic terrace facing the Mediterranean and Mount Etna. Two churches, San Giorgio and San Giuseppe, adorn this square, and the famous Torre dell’ Orologio (“clock tower”), featuring the Porta di Mezzo gate, and the famous Wünderbar Café anchor this public space on its western side. I could even see most of the volcano today on this relatively clear day. There are not many views that compare with the beautiful vista that spread out in front of me from this lookout point.

My walk on the Corso Umberto continued to the western edge of town where I passed through the Porta di Catania, the western city gate featuring the coat of arms of the Municipality of Taormina. From there I walked to a small park which features another beautiful lookout point that faces straight towards Mount Etna. After absorbing this gorgeous picture and trying to burn it permanently into my retina I started to make my way back, this time along the Via Roma, the picturesque road on the southern edge of town high above the coastline of the Ionian Sea. No wonder Taormina is such a popular tourist destination, the physical beauty of this town and the surrounding area is stunning.

Well, after this hour long walk I definitely rutas de senderismo deserved my breakfast and reviewed a bit of Italian grammar on the gorgeous terrace of the Hotel Villa Nettuno before I made my way to the Babilonia Language School. Punctually at 9:30 our lesson started and our grammar teacher Carlo familiarized us with the “preposizioni semplici” – the contracted Italian prepositions that are formed from a combination of the actual preposition together with the article. Prepositions are always complicated topics in any language, and Carlo patiently and succinctly explained to us the usage of “in” or “per” to express time in different contexts. We continued with a variety of games to help us remember the use of Italian prepositions, a fun and effective way to learn and retain complicated linguistic concepts.

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