Taormina, Sicily

© Giovanni Caruso – panoramio.com

South of the straits and halfway between Messina and Catania, for many, including the French writer Guy de Maupassant, Taormina is the prettiest town in Sicily and it is certainly one of the best known and popular resorts of the area.

A unique melting pot of cultures and architectural styles from Magna Grecia, Rome and Byzantium to the Renaissance, the town is replete with art and historical buildings. Its position on a small rise overlooking the Ionian sea with the imposing outline of Etna behind it is beautiful too.

The symbol of Taormina is undoubtedly its Greek-Roman theatre. Built around 300 BC and rebuilt in Roman times as an acoustic masterpiece overlooking the sea, it is still used for a number of events. The main square, named after Vittorio Emanuele, contains Palazzo Corvaja, a wonderful example of fifteenth century late Gothic architecture built next to the remains of the Roman forum. Piazza del Duomo, another exceptional historical monument to Taormina’s past, is dominated by its wonderful seventeenth century Baroque fountain, the town hall and the medieval cathedral.

Ancient and modern history fills the air in Taormina too because of the beautiful landscape around this cliff top town, the intense green of its citrus groves, the fragrance of its lemon trees, the outline of a varied and incredibly beautiful indented coastline full of coves. Taormina’s tourism is traditionally cultured and this is reflected in the town’s enviable cultural vibrancy.

Emblematic of the town’s natural beauties is undoubtedly Isola Bella which, given its very short distance from the main beach, is actually a peninsular. Today it is Catania University’s nature reserve and a villa which was once a private residence stands there.

Taormina’s beaches

The beaches at and around Taormina are fine sand beaches. The largest is Giardini Naxos beach, which is divided into the largest free access beaches of the area and others with beach facilities.

Extremely beautiful and rightly famous, the beach in front of Isola Bella gives you the best views of the landscape and crystal clear waters of Taormina. It is also very crowded, however, so get there earlyish in the morning. Spisone’s lido, next to the cliffs, is great.