Film Scouts Diaries

2002 Taormina BNL FilmFest Diaries
Cosa Mostra: Day 7

by Philipp Hoschka

Taormina, July 12, 2002 - Today, I decided to skip the Festival during the day, and explore Taormina and its surroundings.

Taormina's main drag is the Corso Umberto, a street lined with ice cream parlors and souvenir shops that offer everything you can possibly produce from Etna lava (bracelets, necklaces, ashtrays, ...). There is a cable car that leads down to the beaches at Isola Bella which, while still touristy, have a nice antiquated feel about them that makes this a worthwhile excursion.

Overall, the town's atmosphere has conserved a nice 1950s feel - you almost expect Cary Grant to come around the next street corner. A quick search in the "Internet Movie Database" reveals, however, that Taormina's film history is more recent: Luc Besson's Le Grand Bleu is set in Taormina, the Greek choir commenting the events in Woody Allen's Mighty Aphrodite was filmed in the Greek theatre, and the Italian indie movie Malena that came out in 2000 was also filmed in Taormina.

Having explored Taormina, I then rent a car, drive up mount Etna, and am impressed with huge chunks of fresh lava to the left and the right of the road. I realize that, at some point, the road I am using must have been destroyed by lava and then reconstructed. In my rough estimate, Mount Etna still has ample lava supply for the next 1000 years worth of bracelets, necklaces, and ashtrays, so the shopkeepers on Corso Umberto do not have to worry.

Reassured by this discovery, I drive to Catania, where my car breaks down. The 1.5-hour wait for a replacement car allows me to study Sicilians in a gas station café - which turns out to be more exciting than it sounds. The barman is especially memorable - dressed all in white and sporting a white cap, he serves the caffè freddo with as much diligence as if this was the bar of the Ritz.

After all this excitement, I return to my hotel to change for the evening, only to fall asleep at 7 pm and to wake up at 9 am the following morning. Therefore, I miss tonight's screenings: "Marylin: The Last Interview" (an interview she gave two days before her death), and "Ticket to Jerusalem", a Palestinian movie. But I certainly feel well-prepared for the last day of the Festival, and especially the closing dinner scheduled to begin - at midnight!

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