Taormina, Sicily 16 July 2013
Monday the 15th was a perfect day off by the pool overlooking the Ionian Sea and Mt. Etna, Italy's largest active volcano. The hotel we're staying is nothing short of luxurious with it's tiered gardens of cactus, bougainvillea, cypress, palms, oleander, roses and that's just for starters. After a couple espresso and a trip to the gym, I met Guy and keyboard tech Jules Bowen down at the pool for grilled Mediterranean vegetable sandwiches and three bottles of chilled white Sicilian wine called Leone. Perfection.
I'd only managed a few hours sleep after the rocky check in earlier that morning (see earlier rant) so retreated for a late afternoon nap after our pool-side lunch. I followed that up with a stroll down the hill among the throngs of tourist, fell into one of the many picture post card restaurants for a pizza and beer, then back to the hotel for an early night.
Tuesday the 16th. It was an early start for the crew, 5 a.m. to be exact. The large trucks that carry our equipment, lights and sound will not get through the narrow streets leading up to tonight's venue. The trucks had to be unloaded at the bottom and every piece of equipment shuttled up via a smaller truck. Needless to say a time consuming and harrowing day for our stellar crew. The plus to starting at that early hour was the temps were cool and comfortable. By midday it was blazing heat.
It was also an early start for me as I'd gone to bed by 11, very early by tour standards. I was wide awake at 3 this morning and spent the time on the balcony of my room, watching the lights of town shimmer below and the sun rise over the sea. The overwhelming presence of Mt. Etna taking up a huge part of the horizon, wisps of smoke rising from it's crater.
The show tonight was in the ancient Teatro Antico located adjacent to the hotel. Built in the early 7th century B.C. this Greek theatre was rebuilt and expanded on it's original foundations by the Romans in the 2nd century. The theatre is remarkably well preserved with it's many archways and columns, proscenium and seating. Behind the stage and through those massive archways the moon rose over the Ionian Sea, Etna looming large and Catania below. Because the theatre doesn't have conveniences like dressing rooms, we went straight from the hotel to the stage after meeting a couple hours earlier at the hotel restaurant for a splendid dinner of grilled vegetables, antipasti and salt encrusted sea bass. There's a passageway inside the hotel that leads directly to the backstage area, about a 50 meter walk and up a few stairs and you're there.
It was a beautiful night in a humbling setting for a gathering of 4,500 fans here in Taormina, Sicily. A show not without it's technical problems. The electrical system would not handle much so consequently lighting was at a minimum and kept coming and going. Some of the guys had monitoring problems as well. None of it really mattered for what was one of the most memorable shows and venues I've every played.
This was my first time to Sicily and Taormina with it's fantastic view from the hillside, many restaurants, shoppes and friendly people. It will always be a place I'll wish to return. After a difficult time getting into my room (see the previous journal entry) these past couple of days have been heaven. Here's to Taormina.