Robin's Adventures

Adventures in the Mediterranean and Middle East
Running through Ruins

Taormina Village

Taormina is a charming mountain village located on the eastern coast of the island of Sicily. While walking through the town, there are wonderful views of the nearby volcano, Mount Etna, and also of the clear blue waters of the ocean.

One of the old buildings that we saw, Saint Nicholas Church, was first built in the 13th century. The stone construction and the battlements around the top perimeter of the building gives the appearance of a fortress.

We also saw a Baroque style church dedicated to Saint Catherine. This building has a small bell tower and a niche above the main door with a statue of Saint Alexandria and two angels.

Along Corso Umberto

Corso Umberto, the main street of Taormina, runs through the center of town and connects to a series of picturesque alleys and stairways filled with small shops and cafes.

Quaint Shops

The shops in Taormina sold all sorts of ceramics, works of art, souvenir items, and some of the most beautiful marzipan and unique baked goods we had ever seen. The cannoli was especially tasty.

Greek Theater

One of the main attractions in Taormina is an outdoor amphitheater that was first built by the Greeks in the third century BC. The theater was later modified by the Romans in the first century AD.

The theater is still in use today for theatrical performances and concerts.

High atop Mount Etna

Mount Etna, which is considered to be one of the world's most active volcanoes, is a stratovolcano located on the east coast of Sicily. It is currently 10,900 feet tall and covers an area of about 600 square miles.

Volcanic soil is very fertile and although there were only a few small grasses at the upper elevation, the locals have utilized this fertile soil to grow crops at the lower elevations. Driving up to the volcanic site we passed vineyards, olive groves, and citrus orchards.

Volcanic Landscape

The volcanic park had numerous hiking trails through some colorful otherworldly landscapes. We also noticed that there were ski lifts on the side of the mountain, although they were not operational this time of year.

Final Day at Sea

On our final day on the ship we were supposed to anchor near Sorrento, Italy and take the tenders ashore. The weather was not cooperating, however, so we just continued on to our final destination, Rome. In order to keep passengers amused, the chef provided an ice carving demonstration.

Once in Rome, we disembarked and checked in to the Hotel Majestic which would be our home base for the next three days while we explored the city.

Roman Monuments

Rome, which is the vibrant capital city of Italy, has an interesting cityscape that is sprinkled with glitzy monuments, elaborate piazzas, beautiful fountains, ornate churches, and iconic ruins from days gone by. Everywhere you look there is something new to captivate your attention.

One interesting monument, which has the distinction of being the largest monument in Rome, is The Alter of the Fatherland which was built in honor of Victor Emmanuel II who is credited with unifying Italy. The monument is also home to Italy's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Bernini's Elephant and Obelisk, which is located in the Piazzia della Minerva, is the smallest of the 12 ancient obelisks that are in Rome. The entire structure is not quite 18 feet tall.

The Theater of Marcellus, which was completed in the 1st century BC, was the largest theater in Rome. Its architecture would become the model for future buildings, such as the Colosseum.

The House of Augustus, which is located on Palatine Hill, was the principal residence of Rome's first emperor.

Domitilla Catacombs

The Domitilla Catacombs, which have more than 26,000 tombs spread out over 7.4 miles on four different levels, are the largest catacombs in Rome. After a massive renovation, new frescoes were revealed in a couple of the larger crypts.


The Pantheon, which was believed to have been completed sometime around 126 AD, was originally intended to be a temple to all gods, but has been used as a church since the seventh century.

The architecture of the building is unique. The large rotunda is topped with the largest dome of unreinforced concrete in the world. The oculus, or circular opening in the center of the dome has a diameter of 142 feet and drains on the floor are designed to take away any rainwater that enters through the oculus.

The entrance of the building is a large portico, or porch with 16 columns under a triangular pediment. The Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC borrowed many architectural elements from the Pantheon.