Taormina at the East Coast of Sicily
Taormina on the east coast of Sicily can only be described with superlatives. It combines all the beauties of Sicily and is one of the most beautiful places in the world. The town with its picturesque view on the rock, its proximity to Mount Etna and its spectacular sights is an absolute highlight and a magnet for visitors to Sicily. Taormina is located in an elevated position on a rocky plateau 250 m above sea level near the Strait of Messina. Let yourself be enchanted by the magical atmosphere of Taormina with a view of Mount Etna.
What To Do and See in Taormina
Vacation in Taormina
The panoramic view goes over Mount Etna with its plume of smoke, the offshore small island Isola Bella further over the strait to Calabria and over the open sea into the distance. You can’t escape the charm of Taormina, Goethe already enraptured the dreamy panorama and the sight of the Greek theater.
In Taormina you can go on holiday at any time of the year, the beautiful beaches of Mazzarò and Lido Spisone and the beaches of Giardini Naxos offer wonderful bathing pleasure under palm trees in the crystal clear sea.
Nature lovers can stroll and relax in the beautiful park with a view of Mount Etna and visit other natural parks in the area, such as the Park of Mount Etna and the Park of the Alcantara River.
The millennia-old history of Taormina is omnipresent. The Greek theater of Taormina in its exposed position with the spectacular views of Mount Etna is one of the largest ever and is still very well preserved. If you are on holiday in Taormina, you should not miss an open-air performance.
The Heart of Taormina
No matter how you enter the city, at some point you will reach the heart of Taormina in Corso Umberto with its shops, cafes, restaurants and pastry shops.
Corso Umberto is one that runs evenly between the two city gates Porta Catania and Porta Messina.
Right and left of Corso Umberto it goes steeply uphill or downhill.
In the center is the cathedral square with the cathedral of Taormina and the Fontana in front of it.
A little later along Corso Umberto you come to Piazza IX Aprile, Taormina’s balcony. The Church of Sant’Agostino is located here with the adjoining Order of the Hermits.
In Largo Santa Caterina you come to the Church of Saint Caterina. Opposite is the Palazzo Carvaja, the construction of the tower of which dates back to the Arab occupation in the 11th century, and which is now the seat of the Museum of Art and Tradition and the tourist information office.
In Largo Santa Caterina you have to decide whether to visit either the small Roman theater (Teatro Odeon) or the gigantic Greek theater, an absolute highlight of Hellenistic architecture. If you go downhill from the Greek theater, you come to the Giardino Pubblico park.
The Cathedral San Nicola
The cathedral square with the cathedral of Taormina and the Fontana in front of it is located in the very center. The medieval cathedral is dedicated to Saint Nicola of Bari, inside the cathedral there is a beautiful statue of Saint Agata and a sarcophagus in the chapel of the Holy Sacrament.
The three portals from different epochs are interesting: the Renaissance portal with 15 figures on each side, including the bishops San Nicola and San Pancrazio of Taormina, dates from the 16th century.
The western portal is made in the Gothic style and also dates from the 16th century. The eastern portal in the Sicilian Gothic style is from the 17th century.
On the cathedral square there is a baroque-style fountain with creatures from Greek mythology, the Centauressa. The upper body represents a female being who embodies the city. The lower part of the mythical creature is an animal. The Centauressa is a symbol of Taormina that can be found in the city’s coat of arms.
The Ancient Greek Theater
The Greek Theater of Taormina is one of the most beautiful theaters of antiquity and the symbol of Taormina. For the audience, there is a backdrop beyond the stage with the panorama of Mount Etna above. The view and the size of the theater on the rocky plateau of Monte Tauro are breathtaking. The theater is 120 m long, 50 m wide, and 20 m high and offered space for 5400 spectators. It has the typical Greek theater form with a stage (skene), orchestra, and auditorium (cavea). The orchestral area is centrally located in the middle, and behind it is the stage with columns in the Corinthian style. The steps in the spectator area were carved out of stone and arranged in a semicircle so that uniform visibility and acoustics were guaranteed from all seats.
From June to August the Greek theater offers dance performances and music concerts, as well as theater and cinema. This backdrop in a starry night is an unforgettable experience and maybe Etna is visible with a fiery red glow or a wish will come true with a falling star in August.
The Taormina Park
The park of Taormina, Giardino Pubblico, is located below the Greek theater and Corso Umberto on a slight slope. The English community of Taormina created an English garden here in the 19th century. The park has been open to the public since 1920. Amidst the lush trees and plants from around the world there are sculptures, wooden temples and brick buildings in Victorian style with parrots.
Florence Trevelyan, a member of the English community, was also the owner of Isola Bella, where he also grew exotic plants.
Isola Bella can be reached on foot from Mazzarò beach via a headland. The island is a nature reserve for flora from Mediterranean and tropical plants and numerous species of birds, which can breed here undisturbed.
The Most Beautiful Viewpoints
Due to its spectacular location on the mountainside, Taormina has breathtaking viewpoints. The ascent to the Santuario Madonna della Rocca and on to the Castello with even more spectacular views begins at the Torre dell’Orologio clock tower, the central city gate. With a little fitness you can walk to the small town of Castelmola.
The village of Castelmola is 520 m above sea level on Monte Tauro. It is only 3 km away. A road leads out of Taormina, although the place itself is car-free.
In the famous bar Turrisi there is the typical almond wine.
Practical Guide for your Visit of Taormina
Arrival and Parking
Arrival by Car
The motorway A18 Messina – Taormina – Catania – Syracuse crosses Taormina underground. There are the exits Giardini Naxos and Taormina.
There are parking garages at the two city gates Parcheggio Lumbi in the northeast (Porta Messina) and Parcheggio Porta Catania in the southwest.
Arrival by Train
Catania – Messina line, Giardini-Naxos stop. Then take the bus or take a steep ascent on foot.
Arrival by Bus
From the Airport Catania Fontana Rossa, there is a direct bus transfer to Taormina.
Below Taormina is the Mazzarò car park on the beach, from which the cable car from Mazzarò (Isola Bella, beach) takes you to the center of the city on the high plateau.
History of Taormina
The first settlement of Taormina is documented by the southern Italian Siculians (1270-1000 BC), which was before the arrival of the Phoenicians and Greeks. Finds of vessels and cutting tools prove their high culture and knowledge of bronze processing.
The tyrant Dionysios I from Syracuse was destroyed in the year 403 BC. the settlement of Giardini Naxos also took control of Taormina, which was named Tauromenion.
Later, the Romans, Arabs, Normans, Staufers, and Bourbons took control of the coveted strategically located city.
Typical Delicacies of Taormina
What the earth of Sicily produces is a firework of taste. The fertile volcanic soil and the intense sun give the fruits a special aroma.
The dishes are seasoned with the best of nature. Lemons, oranges, and almonds have access to almost all meat and fish dishes and of course pasta and dolci. Have you ever tried an ice-cold granita made from fresh orange or ground almonds on a summer’s day? No? Then you should definitely visit Sicily!
In Taormina there are over 70 restaurants, trattorias and pizzerias. The choice is difficult because cooking is a passion here and you eat very well everywhere in Sicily. You can eat outside and enjoy the view almost all year round. Usually, they offer complete menus with several courses, the so called “Menu turistico”. The menu consists of the “antipasti”, typically are seafood salad and grilled vegetables, the “primo” (pasta or risotto with seafood or vegetables) and the “secondo” (grilled or fried fish).
As a “dolce” for dessert, there is typically for Sicily the “cassata” or “cannoli” or an ice cream.
A wine should of course not be missing with the meal. The choice is huge because Italy is the largest wine producer in the world. How about a white wine from Etna or a Nero d’Avola?