October 13, 2013

0559, 0839 ITALY (Sicily) - Taormina and Isola Bella (UNESCO WHS - Tentative List)

Posted on 16.03.2013 and completed on 13.10.2013
As is said in the submission for the inclusion of the site Taormina and Isola Bella in the Tentative List of UNESCO World Heritage Site, "Taormina's fortune in all times is closely linked to its extraordinary location, lying on a narrow terrace above the sea formed by typical variously coloured calcareous rocks which ensured its fame in ancient times. Its coloured marbles can still to be found in monuments and private dwellings. Owing to its position, the town has always been considered as a natural fortress of great strategic and political importance, as it allowed the control over the eastern coast of Sicily. As a proof of its important role as a fortified town, parts of the walls surrounding the ancient built-up area still remain."

Inhabited by the Siculi before that the Greeks to base their colony, Tauromenion was a prosper town, which has retained importance even after the Roman conquest. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, it continued to rank as one of the more important towns of Sicily, and was one of the last places retained by the Byzantines. Taken by the Arabs in 902, and totally destroyed after two uprisings, it was captured by the Normans in 1078, further sharing the same fate as Sicily under the Angevins, then under the Crown of Aragon and finally under Spanish suzerainty. In 1675 it was besieged by the French, but under the Bourbons dynasty of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies it didn't have a relevant role. Starting from the 19th century, Taormina became a popular tourist resort, among those who visited it being Oscar Wilde, Nicholas I of Russia, Goethe, Nietzsche or Wagner, and later D. H. Lawrence, Truman Capote, Halldór Laxness and  Evelyn Waugh.

The present town of Taormina occupies the ancient site, on a lofty hill which forms the last projecting point of the mountain ridge that extends along the coast. One of the town's attractions is Piazza IX Aprile (in the postcard), which affords a splendid view of the Greek theater, the bay of Giardini Naxos and the Mount Etna. On the other side of the square stands the former Gothic Saint Augustine's Church (turned in nowadays into the town library) and the 17th Century Church of Saint Joseph. The square also leads to the oldest part of Taormina through the Porta Di Mezzo, upon which stands the Clock Tower, dates back to 12th century and is a reconstruction of the original one destroyed during the French invasion in the 17th century. Why IX Aprile (9th April)? It was on this day in 1860 when news was received that Garibaldi had landed at Marsala to commence the liberation of Sicily.

About the stamps

The stamp, dedicated to the Nordic World Ski Championships 2013 (Val di Fiemme / 20.02-03.03) and designed by Gaetano Ieluzzo, was issued on February 1, 2013. It depicts the outline of the mountains that surround the Val di Fiemme in the background, and a stylized illustration of athletes performing the Nordic skiing disciplines of ski jumping and cross-country skiing. At the top is the official logo of the championships. The words "Campionati del Mondo di Sci Nordico" (Nordic World Ski Championships), "ITALIA", and the denomination "0,85" complete the stamp.

The second, showing the painting Courtesans, by Carpaccio (0.85 EUR), is part of a definitive set named Donna nell'arte (Women in Art), about which I wrote here.

Taormina - Wikipedia
Taormina and Isola Bella - UNESCO official website
Places to Visit in Taormina and the Nearby Coastal Towns - The walks of Italy
Nordic World Ski Championships - Poste Italiane official website

Sender 1: Daniele Pennisi (direct swap)
sent from Zafferana Etnea (Sicily / Italy), on 12.03.2013
photo: Ivan De Pasquale
Sender 2: Ana
sent from Taormina (Sicily / Italy), on 03.10.2013

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