Some days ago, I got back from an amazing trip to a fantastic place: Southern Italy!
The truth is I always wanted to visit Italy but I mostly had in mind Milano, Rome, Florence etc. Little did I know, that true beauty can also be found in the South of Italy, where my musical life took me as a member of the Athens Choir Ensemble! So, here is what I saw and experienced during 9-15/07/2010. Here we go!
Traveling the whole day. Driving from Athens to the harbor of Patras, Greece and from there, we got a ship to Brindisi, Italy. click on each pic to enlarge
Arrived at Brindisi region at 08:30 in the morning. We drove about 500 klm to Regio di Calabria and found the hotel. Had a shower and tried Italian dishes. Then had the whole day ahead to walk around the town. And yes, Regio di Calabria had amazing things to see including amazing Gothic buildings :-)
Click on a picture to enlarge and view the gallery
Today is the day we would perform with the Athens Choir Ensemble at Bova Marina. We took the road with the tour bus but first we stopped at the Museo Nazionale della Magna Grecia to pay a visit to the famous Riace bronzes, two famous full-size Greek bronzes of nude bearded warriors. Photos were not allowed to be taken as the flash light can possibly harm the exhibits so I am giving you on I found on the net and it depicts the statues exactly the way we saw them (in a vitrine where they had been placed for maintainance).
Later, we arrived at Bova Marina, at the Greek Language Institute. We met professor Elio Cotronei and started preparing immediately for the show, which was about to take place in a few hours at the Municipio. At 18:00 the show began and everything went great, we did an amazing job and so did the Italian ensembles. The day ended with the whole crew having dinner at a very small restaurant nearby the Municipio.
Today was a long, amazing day! We left the hotel early to hit the amazing Messina where we took some time at the breathtaking Piazza Duomo. What is amazing about the Cathedral of Messina, is its clock tower, decorated with five figures: the one of an infant, the one of a young boy, the one of a middle-aged man, the one of an old man and the one of Death standing in the middle. Around Death there are 2 gates through which the figures pass every time the clock strikes. With this scene of the figures passing through the gates every time the clock strikes, we are meant to remember that time goes away and so does life. We begin as infants, then we are young, then middle-aged, then we get old and then Death delivers us when our time comes. Creepy but also amazing. In fact that clock completely haunted me while we were there so I got to capture many photos of it as well as a video where the clock strikes every one hour and the figures move. The video below is not mine however. I could not use mine cause the sun made it look really blurry. This video has captured the clock's magic!
Click on a picture to enlarge and view the gallery
Around the cathedral the Piazza (Square) is also amazing and of course, the Fountain of Orion is also located there, right outside the cathedral. The fountain was built by Giovanni Angelo Montorsoli in 1547. Pictures below.
After I explored every inch of the Piazza, now it was time to enter INSIDE the cathedral. Well, no words can describe this and taking pictures was too little so I also give you some video shots (taken by me this time). Really wonderful!
We left Messina but soon we would be back again. Our next stop was the magical Taormina! The moment we stepped in it, we were feeling as if we had stepped back in time. Truly, another dimension :-) Flowers everywhere, castles and towers of the medieval times still standing there unharmed through the centuries, colorful balconies, the sea breeze on our faces, painters and street artists everywhere, amazing doorways and arched gateways. Enjoyed some ice cream (the weather was very hot though and most of it melted lol), got on the teleferic and viewed Taormina from high.
Walking throughout Taormina, we found Villa Comunale (The Public Garden). Amazing place! Towards the end of the nineteenth century this was the private garden of the English aristocrat Florence Trevelyan, a woman who was a botany and ornithology lover. She was also an avid bird-watcher and included various amusements in the garden, such as a fanciful stone-and-brick pavilion (probably conceived as a teahouse). Villa Comunale still has some rare plants and eccentric constructions known as "Victorian follies" that are similar to Chinese Pagodas, built according to the creative original ideas of this aristocratic woman.
The sun went down and we drove to our new hotel at Siracusa. Dinner, shower, sleep.
Since we were in the ancient city of Siracusa, we decided to drive around with the tourist guide admiring the modern city, the cathedrals, the fountains, the sculpted statues and the monuments all around. In fact we jumped on a small tourist open train and went sightseeing passing through small streets, between shops with touristic stuff, traditional herb shops, restaurants and more! We payed a visit to the famous cathedral of St. Lucia. And of course we visited Ortegia. We visited the Cave of the Tyrants or "The Ear of Dionysos", a cave where people were convicted to work as slaves when they committed crimes of mostly financial nature. Who knows how many people lost their lives in there, chained and having to work under these circumstances: extremely hot in the day, extremely cold in the night. The echo of the space was extraordinary and so was the acoustic. We even got to perform a song there with the Athens Choir Ensemble trying out the acoustics. Awesome. Next, we visited the ancient Greek theater. We saw some more archaeological findings around the place and then headed to the Lake of Arethousa.
Tomorrow would be the day to get back home so we decided to get back to wonderful Messina and its Piazza Duomo to spend the evening. After dinner, most of the Athens Choir Ensemble members went for "Messina by Night". I found myself at Piazza Duomo and not clubbing. I mean, going to such a magical place, could you go clubbing? Stayed there till late, with amazing chocolate ice cream and the best view in front of me: The Cathedral's Clock Tower :-) Took some last photos as well :-) I wish I am able to go back to this magical place soon in my life :-)
Before we take the way back home, we visited Taranto. Great place as well. There was this bridge there, were young couples were putting locks in order to "lock" their love to last forever :-) The whole bridge was full of them! :-)Then we took the way to Bari and then we got on our ship back Greece. This trip was truly amazing! :-)