This tranquil city is in a stupendous position on the sea in front of Mount Etna, with a mild climate year round and marvellous scenery, where peace and quiet reign supreme. It's been world famous for centuries, which has brought an influx of noteworthy tourists, even today, thanks to the numerous holiday promotions for Taormina.
The territory extends along the coast from Capo Sant'Andrea to Capo Taormina, where you'll find the beautiful beaches Lido di Taormina, Mazzarò and Isola Bella. Every view from here is particular: from Mount Tauro, the theatre, the Church of the Madonna della Rocca and the castle. Scanning the horizon, the gaze runs from the mountains to the sea, swaying from the southern coast towards Catania and north towards Messina, below imposing Mount Etna.
Taormina has ancient roots, influenced by the Greeks, Romans, Normans and Byzantines. Taormina's historic medieval quarter is known for its street network and its ancient gates. The main road is Corso Umberto I, the city's main artery leading to all major points of interest. A lovely easy itinerary begins at the symbol of Taormina: the Teatro Antico. Carved into the rock, it's a real gem and is the second largest theatre in Sicily after the one in Syracuse. Built in the Greek period, it was renovated by the Romans and boasts splendid white marble and grey granite columns. Still today, prestigious shows take place there. Near the theatre is the Antiquarium, a small archaeological museum housing some precious findings, like the statue of Gaius Claudius Marcellus and a small marble sarcophagus carved in high relief.
Architecturally similar to the Teatro Antico but smaller, the Odeon is located in the north-eastern part of the city behind the hill called Santa Caterina di Alessandria d'Egitto. Not far from there is the famous Palazzo Corvaia, a real castle bearing the name of the family who owned it.
On the opposite side is the must-see Palazzo dei Duchi di Santo Stefano, a small but unique building built into the city's old defensive walls, characterised by a mix of Gothic, Arab and Norman influences. The Palazzo is near Porta Catania. Walking down the main street, Corso Umberto I, you'll reach Piazza Duomo, built around a lovely baroque fountain bearing the city's symbol, a centaur. Here stand the Palazzo Municipale with 17th-century architecture, and the Duomo di Taormina, built on the ruins of a small medieval church dedicated to San Nicola di Bari. As you walk down the avenue, you'll reach Piazza IX Aprile, home to the baroque Church of San Giuseppe and the gothic Church of Sant'Agostino. Here you can admire the Clock tower, also known as Porta Messina, which dates back to the late Middle Ages. Going back behind Palazzo Corvaia, Piazza Vittorio Emanuele concludes the walk with its Teatro Comunale and the Palazzo dei Congressi. Finally, erected on the rock of Mount Tauro nearly 400 metres above sea level, the Saraceno di Taormina Castle looms over the city of the same name.
At the foot of Taormina, between Capo Taormina and Mazzarò, lies one of the area's most beautiful and evocative little islands, Isola Bella. Set between sea and land, this island is connected to the latter by a thin strip of sand which constantly changes shape due to the currents and tides. The Nature Reserve is an evocative place that tourists love to visit, thanks to its lush vegetation of maquis shrubland and exotic flowers. From the panoramic viewpoint you can admire Taormina in all its splendour. Precisely from this natural terrace a small path starts which leads to the Nature Reserve from the city.
Speaking of beaches, Giardini Naxos is one of the island's most popular beach destinations. Stretching from Capo Schisò to Capo Taormina, it's famous for its abundant vegetation and the diversity of its beaches, ranging from the fine golden sand of "Schisò" to the lava stone and the small bays which characterise "Porto Saia". Check out Villagonia's beaches, too, (stone and gravel gulf) and Mazzarò, where you can go on a boat excursion to visit the local grottos. For a unique experience of Sicily's history and beauty, organise a last-minute holiday in Taormina. It's easier than you think.
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