Taormina is a fascinating ancient town located in the Province of Messina, known worldwide for its impressive history, wonderful monuments and breathtaking landscape.
Taormina is one of the most interesting tourist destinations in Sicily, it is known worldwide for its landscape, natural beauties, seashore and its wonderful monuments. This charming city is located 200 meters above the sea level on a piece of land shaped like a natural terrace, from which it is possible to enjoy an amazing view of the surrounding area framed by the majestic Mount Etna. Tourism is part of the city’s life all year long, encouraged not only by its natural and cultural beauties, but also by very well working accommodation and recreational facilities, in addition to the typical Sicilian warmth. Taormina has always been a renowned tourist destination, and through the centuries it hosted important writers like Goethe, Maupassant, D. H. Lawrence, A. France, Oscar Wilde, Brahms, and important personalities such as William II of Germany, the noblewoman Florence Trevelyan, the stylist Christian Dior, the German painter Geleng. It has also been a movie set chosen by many directors like Michelangelo Antonioni, who chose Taormina as the location for one of his best film “L’avventura”(1960).
Thanks to its wide variety of attractions, Taormina offers a series of different itineraries where visitors can discover its incredible monuments such as the Cathedral of San Nicolò, the famous Theatre, the aristocratic buildings and the wonderful natural environments characterised by its public gardens, the beautiful beaches and the Alcantara gorges.
Taormina is rich in history and cultural attractions, the most important monuments of the city are:
the Odeon is a small Roman theatre, built on the ruins of an ancient Greek temple in the II century BC, during the empire of Caesar Augustus Octavian. It hosted some of the most important musical and literary events of the ancient city dedicated only to the aristocratic part of the society. This charming theatre was made of clay bricks and its architecture reproduces the structure of Taormina’s bigger Greek-Roman theatre. It is divided in three main areas: the scaenae frons (the scene), the orchestra and the cavea (the seating section). The scene was characterised by a temple dedicated to Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. The cavea was divided in five different sections, and it could contain about 200 people.
the Public Garden – Villa Comunale was built by Florence Trevelyan, a British noblewoman who moved to Taormina after her mother’s death. This little park is a good spot where get a relaxing rest and repair from the heat during the hottest summer days. This beautiful garden offers an enchanting view of the coast, the Naxos Gardens, and Mount Etna. Lady Florence Trevelyan created the park with a typical English style, filling the green area with a great variety of plants and flowers coming from all over the world and with many small buildings used as bird-watching spots. The most characteristic building located in the garden is “The Beehive”, a small construction which reminds the shape of a beehive.
the Alcantara Gorges – also known as Larderia Gorges or Francavilla Gorges – are located in the Alcantara Valley, in Sicily. These gorges can reach a height of 25 meters, creating an impressive natural canyon. This particular kind of landscape hasn’t been created by the slow work of water during the century. It has been created by the violent earthquakes that hit the area over time. The earthquakes broke the basaltic lakes that occupied the area letting the river’s water insinuate inside the cracks.
The Azzurra cave is located few meters away from the wonderful beach Isola Bella. The cave offers a very evocative sight, thanks to the effect given by the light reflecting on the water and to it prominent marine flora. This area is a perfect location for scuba diving and snorkelling lovers: its underwater landscape is one of the most rich and fascinating of the whole coast.
The Isola Bella beach, also known as “the pearl of the Mediterranean”, is a nature reserve. Named by the German Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden, who helped spreading worldwide the knowledge about the island’s artistic value, this charming island was bought by Lady Florence Trevelyan in 1890 to grow the tropical plants that she wanted to put in her private garden (the Public Garden of Taormina). The Region established the nature reserve in 1998 to protect this incredible natural environment which is now managed by WWF.
Palazzo Corvaja houses the Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions. This ancient building was created in the 11th century, during the Arab occupation of Sicily, and through time many changes have been made to its structure. The façade, made with the typical stone of Taormina, shows small mullioned windows with pointed arches and beautiful Corinthian capitals. It is also enriched by two bands of dark igneous stone.
The Cathedral is a medieval church dedicated to Saint Nicola di Bari. It was built in the 13th century on the ruins of an ancient church. The building was renovated in the 15th and 16th century. The Cathedral has a Latin cross plan, with three naves and three apses and the central nave is held up by six Taormina pink marble columns with flowers sculpted on their capitals. This columns might have been taken from the Greek-Roman theatre. Because of its austere medieval architecture and its external fortifications, the church is also called “the Fortress Cathedral”. The cathedral has a great artistic value, especially the big central rose window showing a stunning Renaissance style. The church includes an impressive Byzantine Madonna which was found inside an old well, probably hidden there to save this beautiful work of art from the Arab invasion.
The Palazzo Duca Santo Stefano, built in the 14th century, is a masterpiece of the Sicilian Gothic style, mixed with Arab and Norman traditional elements.
The façade shows a Norman framework, enriched by decorative elements coming from the Arab artistic tradition which were made using dark lava stone and the precious white stone from Siracusa. The palace is built on three levels. A pink granite column, taken from the Greek theatre, is located in the middle of the inner building. On the second floor there are four impressive windows characterised by a fascinating Gothic style. Today the building hosts the artistic foundation dedicated to the Sicilian artist Giuseppe Mazzullo and during the summer time its garden is a perfect location for many artistic and cultural events.
The Church of San Giuseppe della Pia Società Salesiana, is located near the Clock Tower, also known as the “Torre di Mezzo”. The church was built between the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century with a typical Baroque style. The façade shows a big main entrance, made with Taormina marbles of different colours, and two small side entrances made with the white stone from Siracusa. The church has only one nave, and in the middle of the nave there is a small vault with a painting depicting Saint Giovanni Bosco as a child standing between Jesus and the Virgin Mary.
The Church of San Pietro e Paolo is the oldest Christian church in Taormina. It was built on the ruins of an ancient Greek temple located in the centre of the Arab necropolis. Its façade is dating back to the 18th century, is a simple doorway with the jambs and the architrave made with the typical stone from Taormina as well as the architrave with a full-centre arch made. The interior includes some interesting frescos and two majestic golden statues portraying Saint Peter and Saint Paul dating back to the 15th century.
The Church – Sanctuary of S.Maria della Rocca, built in the 12th century, was restored in 1600. It is erected on a small hill that dominates Taormina, from which it is possible to enjoy a breath-taking sight on Taormina’s surroundings. Close to the church it is possible to visit an other wonderful holy place such as the church of Saint Antonio and Convent of the Friars Minor Capuchin which was built in 1559.
The Saracen Castle is located on Mount Tauro, 400 meters above the sea level. Thanks to its location, the castle could control the whole Alcantara River’s valley. According to the tradition, the castle was built by Arabs. Under the Reign of Federico II, also known as “Stupor Mundi” thanks to his intellectual, political and military abilities, the castle was given to a Castilian nobleman. The outer walls have been kept very well, while almost all the inside walls collapsed.
The Badia Vecchia was built in the 14th century as a watchtower to protect the village from the barbarian invasions. This building is a beautiful example of the 13th century’s Gothic architecture, even if it was modified several times in the later centuries. A decoration made with igneous and white stone inlays embellishes the palace’s outer walls dividing the first from the second floor. The Badia Vecchia hosts the Archeological Museum, which contains important findings from the Greek domination dating back to the 4th century BC, some ceramics and rare objects from the Roman period.
The Clock Tower or “Middle Door” built in the 12th century, was completely destroyed during the Luis XIV invasion in 1676. It was re-built in 1679 thanks to the will of the inhabitants of Taormina, who added the big clock on the top of the tower. Since then it has been called “the watch tower” instead of “the Middle Door”.
Close to the theatre and the forum (today is piazza Vittorio Emanuele) rises the great wall of Naumachia, another example of the Roman architecture. This ruins are part of the ancient Gymnasium, also known as Giardinazzo. It was the place where young men were educated and trained to take part to the Olympic Games. Philip of Orville improperly called this space “Naumachia” to describe this rectangular closed shape.
People live here:
It is famous for:
Many important people visited and lived in Taormina such as Goethe, Nietzsche, Richard Wagner, the Tsar Nicholas I and II and the Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, Gabriele D’Annunzio, Gustav Klimt, Sigmund Freud, DH Lawrence, Soraya, Ava Gardner, Romy Schneider, Greta Garbo.
Films set in Taormina:
The Light Touch, Richard Brooks (1951)
Carne Inquieta, Silvestro Prestifilippo (1952)
L’Avventura, Michelangelo Antonioni (1960)
Intrigo a Taormina, Giorgio Bianchi (1960)
Divorzio all’Italiana,Pietro Germi (1962)
Don Giovanni in Sicilia ,Alberto Lattuada (1967)
La prima notte del dottor Danieli, industriale, col complesso del… giocattolo, Gianni Grimaldi (1970)
Le Grand Bleu, Luc Besson (1988)
Il piccolo diavolo, Roberto Benigni (1988)
The Godfather: Part III, Francis Ford Coppola (1990)
Johnny Stecchino, Roberto Benigni (1991)
Léolo, Jean-Claude Lauzon (1992)
Rocky, Sujit Mondal (2013)
Rally di Taormina, sport event
San Silvestro a mare (31/12) sport festival, considered as an unique and traditional event
Taormina Film Fest, international film festival
Taomoda, moda, design, cultura, fashion event
Cioccolart Sicily, food festival http://www.cioccolartsicily.it
FlorArt, the festival celebrates a series of works of art made with local flowers
Taormina Jazz Festival, music festival
Presepe Vivente a Trappitello di Taormina, lively nativity, holy celebration during the Christmas period
How to get there:
Get on A18 Messina-Catania, exit Taormina
Regional trains, stop Taormina-Giardini Naxos
Fontanarossa International Airport of Catania
Get on A18 Messina – Catania, exit Taormina
Hotel Villa Schuler 3*
Atahotel Capotaormina 4*
Panoramic Hotel 4*
NH Collection Taormina 5*
Hotel Monte Tauro 4*
Hotel Sirius 4*
Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo 5*
Il Piccolo Giardino Hotel 3* superior
Hotel Villa Carlotta 4*
La Plage Resort 5*
Grand Hotel San Pietro 5* luxury
Hotel Villa Belvedere 4*
Hotel Villa Diodoro 4*
San Domenico Palace Hotel Taormina 5*
Hotel Metropole Taormina 5* luxury
Hotel El Jebel 5* luxury
Hotel Continental 3*
B&B Villa Sara 3*
Boutique hotel Villa Ducale 4*
The Ashbee Hotel 5*
Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea Taormina Mare 5*
Hotel Méditerranée 4*
Hotel Caparena 4*
Ristorante Al giardino
La Giara Restaurant e Banqueting
Ristorante Villa Antonio
Lido La Caravella
Address: C/Da Spisone, Direttamente sulla spiaggia
Ph: +39 0942 620049
Casa Giolì Art Restaurant
Osteria Rosso di vino
Villa Carlotta Boutique Hotel
Ristorante Al Saraceno
Address: Via Apollo Arcageta, 8
Ph: +39 340 307 7032
Lido La Pigna
Golden Sunset Taormina
Address: Piazza S. Antonio Abate N. 8
Ph: +39 3467551702
Ristorante Arco Rosso
Address: Via Lungomare, 27, 98039 Mazzeo ME
Ph: +39 0942 36601
Trattoria Don Ciccio
Address: Via Damiano Rosso, 19, 98039 Taormina ME
Ph: +39 0942 628341
Ristorante Vineria Modì
Address: Via Calapitrulli 13
Ph: +39 0942 23658
On the road pub pizzeria
Address: San Pancrazio, 48
Ph: +39 3478226749 / +39 3311161125 / +39 094223887
Pizzeria Villa Zuccaro
Ristorante Taverna al Paladino
St. George Restaurant
Dolmen Taormina Ristorante
Address: Via Bagnoli Croci, 88, 98039, Taormina, Sicilia, Italia
Ph: +39 0942 625515
Address: Piazza S.Antonio
Ph: +39 0942625919
Mobile: +39 338 8277472
Ristorante Le Naumachie
Ristorante Trattoria da Nino
Trattoria Il Barcaiolo
Ristorante La Mamma
Ristorante Nettuno da Siciliano
Trattoria Tischi Toschi
Ristorante La Piazzetta
Gourmet Restaurant Ciampoli
Ristorante Da Andrea U Schiticchio
Address: 159, Via Nazionale Contrada Mazzaro’
Ph: +39 0942 628760
Ristorante Myle e i Suoi Sapori
Ristorante Sapori di Mare
Address: Viale S. Pancrazio, 26, Taormina ME
Ph: +39 0942 24743
Baia di Mazzarò
Baia delle Sirene