mount etna, no.1427 (NOT visited)

mount etna, the highest mediterranean island mountain and the most active stratovolcano in the world, entered unesco heritage sites’ list just last year. it is site on the eastern coast of sicily, which i visited in july 2011.

at the time i did not want to visit mount etna, even though the other party (i.e. my hubby) was highly interested to pay a visit to this extraordinary site. do i have to say how much i regret for not going?

however, we did manage to see it – from the airplane, from the city of taormina, and even to feel its dust on us, in catania. we took a lot of pictures (whew!), and now i think it’s time to share them, in order to celebrate mount etna’s entering on unesco heritage sites’ list.

our first stop was catania, the city so close to the mount etna that made volcano omnipresent in the city, its dust is all over this quite grey city, whose buildings are mainly lava-built. also, the main street is called via etnea and on piazza del duomo (or the main square) there was a statue of an elephant carrying an egyptian obelisk. according to the legend, the elephant is city’s protection from volcano eruptions.

etna_catania

the second place where we’ve got the opportunity to enjoy the view of mount etna was the lovely city of taormina, famed for its splendid scenery, beautiful beaches and historic sites. the most important historic site in taormina is teatro greco (or greek theatre), built in the 3rd century AD, by the island’s first occupiers, the greeks. the view from the greek theatre was particularly beautiful.

etna_taormina

the last photo was taken as the airplane was taking off. we know taking photos is forbidden during the take-off, but we simply couldn’t resist.

etna1

i guess we should consider going again to this region & visiting mount etna, right?

ps. all the photos were taken by tarik (of course!)

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noto, no.1024

late baroque towns of the val di noto have been on the unesco heritage list since 2002 and they include eight towns in south-eastern sicily: caltagirone, militello val di catania, catania, modica, noto, palazzolo, ragusa and scicli.

sicily’s southeast has always been among the island’s wealthiest regions, with its dramatic scenery. however, damaging earthquakes have repeatedly afflicted this area, among which the one from 1693 destroyed the entire region. this catastrophe did, however, have one lasting effect: where there were ruins, a confident new generation of architects raised planned towns, displaying a baroque style that endures today.

i have visited southeast sicily in july 2011, and among the cities i’ve seen, none have left such a strong impression as noto. lovely little town, it was planned by the baroque architects and therefore it may be considered a masterpiece of baroque architecture in italy.

noto1a

the town center is occupied by duomo, cathedral of noto, first completed in 1776, it’s said to have been inspired by models of borromini’s churches in rome. in the recent years, the cathedral collapsed, as a result of structural wakening, caused by earthquakes in the 90ties. it has been rebuilt and was reopened in 2007. we arrived just in time.

noto2

right next to duomo, there is the steep via nicolaci, home of palazzo villadorata. palazzo villadorata is rather unusual building. one may notice six extravagant balconies – placed on the quite classical building. those balconies are supported by sculptures of griffins, galloping horses and bald and bearded figures with fat bellies.

noto3

noto has developed from the ancient town, noto antica, 16km northwest of baroque noto. even though noto antica has not been included in the unesco heritage list, it is still worth a visit. the ruins of old town may still be found along with wild nature. in time they have learned how to co-exist.

noto4

as i’ve previously said, noto is one of the most beautiful cities i’ve seen. baroque architecture & very carefully planned streets make you feel as though you’re in a theatre. the atmosphere is not worth mentioning (i preferred palermo or siracusa), but if you’re looking for elegance & beauty, then noto is a place to go to.

the only souvenir i got from noto were almonds. we’ve eaten them before i could take a picture!

ps. all the photos were taken by tarik&me in july 2011.