I was there !
This year is the 75th anniversary of the invasion of Sicily by the British and Americansforces. Only few remember this historical fact and only few remember the bombardment of Taormina on the 9th July 1943.
At that time I was only 4 year old, but I still remember vividly some events of that period, whereas I have completely forgotten many others of my childhood.
My family was living and working in Messina, has moved to Taormina in 1941 to avoid the increasing and continuous bombardments hitting our city. They have rented a nice villa at the 41 ( now 55 I think) Circonvallazione St., in front of the Badia Vecchia, just before the fork to Castelmola.
About that Friday July 9th I remember perfectly it was lunch time when suddenly the bombers arrived and bombs started falling down. We had no shelter, so we chose the most protected area of the house, my mother saitting down in a corner and I was in her harms wearing the WWI steel helmet of my maternal grandfather Lumia !!! I recall well the explosions of the bombs hitting particularly the San Domenico hotel , their primary target, and surrounding districts. Why the San Domenico ? because this hotel had been rented by the German Army as headquarter for their command, and intelligence report ( wrong!) was saying that General Hube, Commander in chief of the German troops in Sicily, was there. So they want to destroy the ‘’brain’’ of the German forces.
When the bombardment ended I presume we went for lunch, the spaghetti with tomato sauce waiting in the dishes cause of the bombs!
In the afternoon, around 04,00pm, second wave. This time I remember we went outside, in the garden, actually in the open air !
At last also this ended, and luckily for us, no damages, as all the bombs had fallen far from our home. Also our friends and neighbors, the families Campo and Misitano, suffered no damages. Unfortunately some districts of the city, particularly those close and around the San Domenico Hotel , were damaged heavily, and dozens of civilians were killed, among whom a little friend of mine, Ausilia. ( I do not recall her family name). .
From our terrace we could see the San Domenico burning, the flames very high above the roofs of the houses.
After this second bombardment my parents decided to go away from Taormina. I only remember we started at sunset, walking on a secondary road and then among fields. We stayed overnight in a cave, together with other refugees, and next morning we reached Mufarbi , a place on the hills surrounding Taormina, where, by the courtesy of some friends of ours, we found hospitality in a warehouse, waiting for the situation in Taormina being back to normal before deciding to return to our home.
But this is another story…..