Good to see so many have returned. Noisy last night in the piazza—an altercation between some of the soldiers and deserters, I understand. I hope none of you had trouble sleeping. You, sir, better sit down in the park over there, you look a little tired. We’ll pick you up at the end of the tour.
Well, on we go.
You’ll remember yesterday we talked about the Duomo and statue and all those churchy things. Now it’s time for shopping.
All around the piazza are Oltramari’s finest shops—the embalmer next to the Duomo, my family’s apothecary shop on the other side—good for tonics of all sorts—the shoemaker here (you’ll remember him from NO MORE BROTHERS), the baker over there, the butcher, the dry goods store, the sweet shop and Boffo’s Café (again, had a big role in NO MORE BROTHERS) and don’t forget Oltramari’s finest milliner. Their corsets use the best baleen stiffeners, and at a special price. After the tour, you’ll have time to shop, no doubt.
So, to continue. Turn around.
Directly across from the Duomo is the Municipal Building. It houses the local subprefect and commissioner, the archives, the police, the carabinieri, the local courts, lawyers, judges, AND last and least, our know-nothing inspector, Colonna who, unfortunately, appears in both DEATH OF A SERPENT and NO MORE BROTHERS. In the basement is the jail, a despicable keep built by those nasty Bourbons. Not worth a visit—no one comes out alive.
Before we migrated to New York, my family lived in that villa in back of the public gardens. It was built by my more affluent ancestors. See it? The one with the light rose ochre façade peeking through the palms, the viridian shutters, wrought iron gates, bougainvillea climbing the wall, chestnut tree in front. Lovely, the gardens, especially when Carmela tended them. Our stable’s in the back where we keep the mules, the family carriage, and the trap I use for visiting. Of course, now that I’m immortal, I flit here and there whenever I want.
Down the road from the Municipal Building are the straw market, the black smith, the public stables. Above us is the promenade. From its height when the light is clear, we can see all the way to Mt. Etna or peer down to the fishing village below.
Directly behind the Duomo is Via Serpentina. It winds down to the sea through rough neighborhoods with windowless hovels and narrow alleyways that shoot this way and that, crossing and double-crossing, ending abruptly in dusty piazzas with dry fountains. A perfect place for intrigue.
You’re bored, I can tell. I was going to show you the arena and Rosa’s villa, wind up at Boffo’s for a caffè, but that’s for another day. Questions?
Photo: A view of Taormina. Credit: gnuckx (Flickr), Creative Commons.