Lying on a terrace high up on Monte Tauro, dominating two vast and magnificent bays, Taormina is the most famous and most refined holiday resort in Sicily . Although Taormina does not have a beach, the enchanting ruins of the Greek Theater and the extraordinary beauty of the site enrich the splendid landscape: the rocks and the sea, the luxuriant vegetation, the variety and the splendid contrast of colors form a unique and wonderful natural scenery.
Beloved by writers, artists and celebrities for decades, the entire city is dedicated to the elite international tourism that crowds its streets from April to October and on which it almost entirely depends. Among the numerous travelers who became infatuated with Taormina, the two most cited names are Goethe and DH Lawrence ; the latter fell in love with the position and climate of the city so much that he settled there from 1920 to 1923, in a villa at the top of the cleft in the valley behind the theater.
Taormina still retains its late medieval appearance. The main pedestrian street is an unbroken row of intimate squares and 15th-19th century palaces, Taormina also boasts a picturesquely ruined castle and row upon row of flower-filled balconies.
In the area it is possible to undertake several beautiful walks, including a trip to the nearby town of Castelmola , visited by many tourists for the wonderful panoramic views that can be admired in all directions. Very popular throughout the summer are the beautiful beaches that dot the coast below Taormina.
The railway station is located at the foot of Monte Tauro, along via Luigi Pirandello you will reach the gates of the old city and Corso Umberto I, which crosses the city.
What to see
The most famous monument of Taormina is certainly the enchanting Greek Theater . This perfect horseshoe-shaped theater, suspended between the sea and the sky, was built in the third century BC and boasts a scenographic position: it is certainly the most evocative of the theaters of the Hellenistic era.
The Greeks made the most of the natural slope of the hill and the breathtaking view of Etna and the Bay of Schisò, but in the 1st century AD the Romans remodeled the theater.
In the 12th century the family of Costanza d'Aragona fell in love with the place and had a villa built above part of the theater. Time has obliterated many of these alterations, revealing the extraordinary panorama once again. In summer the festival hosts Taormina Arte , an important international arts festival.
Corso Umberto I
One of the greatest of the greatest delights of Taormina is the walk along the narrow main street of medieval times, browsing among antique and handicraft shops, delicatessens and high fashion boutiques.
To get away from the confusion, you can go down to the Parco Duca di Cesarò , commonly called Villa Comunale. The gardens were created by Lady Florence Trevelyan Cacciola who left England in disgrace after having an affair with Edward VII. Today they are among the most beautiful public gardens in Sicily, full of magnolias, hibiscus, bungavillee, cacti and cypresses.
Bay with Isola Bella in the center , a rock famous all over the world . Among the walls of the island lives a very rare lizard, Podarcis sicula medemi, in the shadow of the Mediterranean scrub, which alternates with exotic species, inserted in the past by private individuals who built their home on the island.
At Capo Sant'Andrea the Peregrine Falcon and the Kestrel nest and among its rocks there is the suggestive Blue Grotto . Guided tours of the island have been running since 2000 and thousands of visitors cross the isthmus of gravel and pebbles, often barefoot due to the high tide, which connects it to the mainland.
The depths of the bay are a privileged destination for the diving centers in the area: fish and molluscs, wrasses and corvines dominate undisturbed among the Posidonia oceanica meadows.
A tiny island located in an enchanting cove. It can be reached on foot in a few minutes but it is much more fun to rent a small boat in Mazzarò and paddle around Capo Sant'Andrea .
Isola Bella was bought by Florence Trevelyan for 5000 lire, her home is on the island. Today it is managed as a nature reserve by the WWF and its scosesa base invites snorkelling.
Parties and events
Gathering of Costume and Sicilian Cart: a parade of traditional Sicilian carts and performances by folkloristic groups. It usually takes place in the fall.
Taormina Arte : cinema, theater, music and an impressive list of international names. It takes place in July and August.
Taormina is a true paradise for shoppers, full of shops selling well-made ceramics, lace and linen tablecloths, antique furniture and jewelery. Corso Umberto I houses the best shops; via Teatro Greco is basically more touristy, although there are some delicatessens offering gourmet products. In Taormina, the shops stay open late and often offer home packing and delivery services.