We decided
to spend our autumn holiday in Taormina on Sicily. By a very unfortunate
coincidence the city turned out to be specked with roman ruins. What a bore.
The city was founded 358 BC by Greek colonists.
But the city flourished most of all under Rome. Having supported the
Romans during the Second Punic War at the end of the 3rd century BC,
Taormina received privileged treatment, being granted particular tax
exemptions.

The
resources of the city, coming in particular from nearby fields, could be used
for its own development. Later emperor Augustus made the city to a colony. The
riches enjoyed by the city are documented by the ruins of countless buildings.
The most famous are the amphitheatre (Teatro Greco) and the Naumachie. The theatre was first build in Greek times in
a position that dominates the countryside with mount Etna in the distance. The
Romans enlarged the theatre and made it to an amphitheatre that could be used
for more interesting performances such as gladiatorial fights. It is the only
amphitheatre that consists of a half circle. There was not enough space to
build the other half.

The
Naumachie is a monumental brick wall with niches that supports a cistern. The
wall is 122 meters long and is one of the most important Roman structures on
Sicily. The niches were originally occupied by statues. The city boasts also an
archeological museum in a medieval tower. The tourist guide mentions the museum
in detail. There is just one problem. It was closed years ago. We sneaked into
the gardens and it is a beautiful place with great potential. I am sure that
Taormina is floating with archaeological debris from the last 2400 years. First
the Greeks followed by Romans, Byzantines, Saracens, Normans, German emperor
Friedrich II, the Spanish and the French. The city gets 1.8 million visitors
every year but there is no longer room for an archaeological museum. What a
business opportunity to be missed. The well preserved early medieval Saracen
castle that dominates the city has been closed for years. You only find out
when you have climbed 850 meters and stand in front of the blocked gate. On the
upside, there is a bar or restaurant at every corner and hundreds of shops
where you can buy hats, souvenirs and other useful stuff for your hard earned
money.

Best regards,

Karlheinz and Ursula Moser-Fiedler