An Italian Sculptural Pilgrimage - part II

Side Door of the Duomo di Taormina, Sicily

Join me on my summer holiday as I travel (mostly) through Italy—as always, in search of beautiful sites, sculpture and all things sculpture-ish. 

We sailed from Athens to Sicily, an interesting route considering how important the island was to the Ancient Greek Empire. Due to its considerable size (it's the largest island in the Mediterranean) and strategic position, many conquering armies came and went over the centuries: the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Normans, Germans, French, Spanish, Neapolitans and, eventually, unified Italy. The city of Syracuse—enriched by trade under the Greeks—rivaled Athens in size and beauty.

The doorway pictured above, on the side of the Duomo di Taormina, could certainly be called "sculpture." The cathedral, named after Saint Nicholas, was built around 1400, over an earlier basilica.

The seaside town of Taormina became very popular with European tourists in the Nineteenth Century—especially with artists, writers and other creative people. The city had the reputation for being tolerant of gay visitors. A list of notable visitors and residents includes Oscar Wilde, Richard Wagner, Evelyn Waugh, Tennessee Williams, D.H. Lawrence, Truman Capote, Jean Cocteau, Henry Faulkner, J.W. von Goethe, Nicholas I of Russia, Frank Brangwyn, Roald Dahl, Friedrich Nietzsche, and the English Arts & Crafts luminary C.R. Ashbee. German art photographer Wilhelm von Gloeden made a career of photographing "classic and romantic" tableau, some involving nude local boys.

We'll continue our summer holiday tomorrow. 


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