Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Day 5: Taormina

Day 5: Taormina

Today we started out at a site of ancient tombs and a church in a cave. We've been talking a lot about how one structure/object could have been used for many different functions and purposes so it was interesting to see how these tombs had been converted into medieval homes and used up into the 19th century by the poor. The church was cut out of rock and still had traces of frescos (a painting done in water color on wet plaster on walls or ceilings-used in Roman times). It's interesting to talk about how the concept of sacred spaces and religion has changed over time. During the 14th century when this church was in use, religion was the center of community, but it was more about personal devotion, communion, and individual prayer to the saints. We were asked what makes a space sacred and it seems that it's the idea that a space is designated/set aside for that specific purpose as well as elements such as the art, bread, wine, and decorations that make it look and feel sacred.

After a short bus ride we arrived in the small town of Taormina. It is one of the most visited places in Sicily. It's located on a mountain so looking around we could see the sea below us and Mount Etna in the distance. We walked through the streets of the town looking at the cute gelato, ceramic, and souvenir shops before stopping to go our separate ways for lunch. Some of us ate out on a terrace at a restaurant that serves gluten free pasta (I was very excited) and then ran to get gelato and crepes before going to visit the Roman theater.

The theater was amazing and when we climbed to the top we found a gorgeous view of the sea and the town so naturally we took a lot of pictures. In order for the people sitting in the stands to hear the performers, most theaters were situated so that the ocean was in front of it and a mountain or wall was behind it. The wind from the sea helped the sound travel up to the audience and the mountain/wall blocked it from escaping.  We learned that Roman and Greek theater differed in that the Greeks used it more to teach about life and politics but the Romans, who displayed gladiators and live animals as well as plays and music, used it more as entertainment. Today the theater is generally used from May to October for concerts, operas, and festivals so I'm planning on coming back to Italy for that (sorry mom and dad).


1 comment:

  1. Fascinated by your conversation about what makes a space sacred. I wonder about distinctions between ephemeral elements tied to ritual, behavior, etc. and more tangible, stable elements such as architecture and to what extent such interpretations may or may not transcend time and culture.