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We spent this year’s Easter week in Sicily – first at Taormina and then Siracusa. Both are on the east coast of Sicily. Taormina has been a very popular tourist destination since the 19th century.

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The town is situated in a beautiful location perched on a cliff, rising 200 m above the Ionian sea.

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Behind the town rising up to 3330 m (11,000 feet) is the tallest active volcano in Europe, the snow-capped Mount Etna.

Along the coast on the north is Mazzeo, a beach town.

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The autostrada that runs along the coast up to Messina is visible here.

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On the south side is Giadini Naxos, another beach town which is quite popular, judging by the number of beach front hotels.

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There were a lot to do here and we had not even scratched surface.

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A headland lies beneath Taormina. The village Mazzaro connects to a small island – Isola Bella, a nature reserve.

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The little island was privately owned until 1990 when it was auctioned and acquired by the state.

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A road with numerous hairpin loops winds its way from the waterfront to Taormina.

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A cable car connects Taormina with the beaches but it was not running when we were there. It opens on April 1 every year. We were a few days too early.

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The area has a very long history of human settlement – the nearby town Naxos was founded around 700 BC. During the early 20th century the town became a colony of expatriate artists, writers, and intellectuals.

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The town has been running a film festival almost as long as Cannes. Last year, it celebrated its 60th anniversary while this year’s Festival de Cannes is the 67th (which incidentally concluded today).

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In part 2, we will share pictures of the town itself. Come back in a few days.

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