The history of this town has its origins in Greek mythology and goes back many centuries, starting off as the most ancient of Greek colonies on Sicily, in 735BC. The story is complicated and not all agree as to how things unfolded or what the time line was, suffice to say the Greek name of Naxos has remained as a reminder to its beginnings.
Giardini Naxos used to be a quiet fishing village until the 1970s when visitors from mainland Italy and eventually tourists from all around Europe started frequenting the area. The beautiful bay is fronted by good swimming beaches, a promenade along the coast and a host of hotels, hostelries, restaurants and pizzerias to cater for all budgets and tastes. It has become a destination in its own right and is the resort of choice when travelling to Sicily. Visiting now, as we are, finds it much quieter and certainly with a local feel to it; there is no mistaking who lives here and who visits here. Our first week was spent getting to know our immediate surrounds by going for daily walks to the promenade, the local 'supermercatos' and 'alimentaris' for groceries.
The town still has an active fishing port and also utilises the soft beach sand to simply pull and heave the smaller boats onto the sand. It makes for a very colourful display and a photographers joy on a good sunny day.
Looking north along the beach ....
.... and west towards Mt Etna ....
.... east towards Cape Taormina ....
.... south towards the harbour wall.
We came across these two columns on our walkabouts, but they are new and not from the days when this was a Greek colony and is only decorative, placed as they are in two busy pedestrian areas of town - still a nice touch!
After one week here we are starting to get a feel for the place, although we have only done what can easily be done on foot. The bicycles haven't even been taken out of the 'garage' yet. We have been to the nearest supermercato (smallish but only 200 yards down the road) for essentials twice and once to a nice big one about a mile away. All very handy!
Opposite 'Camper Lagani' is the area which used to be the central point of Grecian Naxos, now a protected area for the archaeological remains of that era. I hope to post more detail at a later stage. So there is much to see and explore in the weeks to come. Weeks? - yes we will probably spend the festive season of 2012 here in Giardini Naxos, on the east coast of Sicily halfway between Messina and Catania, near the slopes of the brooding colossus of Mount Etna.
What a setting for a New Year's eve fireworks display, if you know what I mean?!