Taormina Film Fest

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We have found a little glamour in Taormina. This past week, the town hosted its annual film festival. This festival is on a much smaller scale than Cannes, but the location is a lot more striking. The films are shown nightly in the Teatro Greco, the ancient Greek amphitheatre, which dates to the 3rd century BC and overlooks the sea and the volcano, Mt. Etna. There are celebrities and paparazzi – mostly Italian – with fancy soirees every evening.  And even some American stars – although the Sicilians seem more amused by their appearance than starstruck. Our housekeeper told us she saw Richard Gere, and we heard Susan Sarandon was making an appearance last night.

I had heard about the festival and searched the Internet hoping to get lucky and score a ticket. But could find nothing. I figured it must be very private and exclusive. But then we bumped into a British lady who told us, no, just line up for tickets at the festival headquarters near the Greek theatre. We located the headquarters (after passing by it a couple of times) and sure enough, anyone can just walk in. What’s more – tickets are only 6 Euro for reserved seats, 4 Euro if you are willing to sit on the old Greek stones at the top. We splurged for the reserved seats, like the VIPs we are!

The Big Night

We weren’t really sure what to expect, but showed up at 10 pm, when it started – since it has to be dark to see the movie in the outdoor amphitheatre. And I have to say, the Greek theatre is stunning. It was worth our ticket price just to get inside and see it all lit up at night.

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The theatre is next to a 5-star hotel, the Grand Hotel Timeo, which has hosted movie stars for years. We could catch a glimpse of one of the fancy parties out on their terrace. Soon, the stars – dressed in formal attire – started making their way into the theatre with us, stopping to pose for pictures along the way. Once settled, the ceremony started. Every night they give out awards to visiting stars. It was all in Italian, so we weren’t completely sure what they said, but was fun to watch. The highlight was a special award given to the American who had won the Best Actress Oscar this year, Patricia Arquette, who was actually there and walked up and accepted. Wow!

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Then the lights went down for the movie – and all the stars got up and left. Our housekeeper (who is in the know) told us that they have the fancy reception at the Grand Hotel, go in for the awards ceremony, and then all go to a gala dinner somewhere in town, leaving the “common people” like us to watch the movie.

Our movie was “How to Make Love Like an Englishman,” starring Pierce Brosnan. I have to say it was not all that good, but kept us entertained. And to be honest, it would be hard to compete with the amazing views all around us. What a fun date night – and for just 12 Euro!

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