Taormina is probably the most visited town in Sicily. The town is delightful. The lively streets are lined with interesting shops and inviting restaurants and cafes, making for a delightful stroll from Porta Messina to Porta Catania. Music comes from all directions and flowers spill from balconies…just what you expect of a southern Italian town by the sea.
The clock tower is the gateway to the medieval part of town. The streets become narrower, but no less interesting.
Taormina has a huge Greek/Roman theatre carved out of the hillside. The Greeks designed the theatre in the 3rd century BC, but the Romans redesigned it in the 1st century AD. They sacrificed some of the seats and part of the stage to accommodate gladiator games.
Wandering through the ancient structure is mind boggling. Those people knew a thing or two about building big things.
For the best views in town go to the top of the theatre and stand in the middle.
It was a bit hazy, but we could see Etna in the distance.
There is a beautiful garden created by English woman, Florence Trevelyan. It is well maintained and offers a cool green oasis, in the town. I’m sure it would be lovely to stroll here on a warm summer evening.
There are gorgeous shops in Taormina, especially for sweets.
We had a granita (one of many) in a great spot called Bam Bar in Via Giovanni di Giovanni.
There was another wonderful looking place just around the corner…spoiled for choice.
Isola Bella would have to be one of the most photographed beaches in the world. A little rocky island sits just off the curved beach. At low tide a walkway appears and you can cross to the island.
I can see that the beach would be very popular in the warmer months. Even in April a few sun seekers were out and about. A couple of boats offer excursions around the coast, but it was windy and the water was choppy the day we were there so we declined.
…a note of caution. The steps to the beach are long and steep. The beach is a pebble beach, so you will need your best plastic sea slippers to enjoy a stroll or a swim. Most people seemed happy to be lying on a beach bed in the sun.
We made the mistake of taking the Hop on Hop off bus tour of Taormina. This has to be the worst bus tour I have ever taken. It cost €40 for the 2 of us. We were dragged for almost 2 hours through some of the ugliest suburbs I have ever seen. Mazzaro and Giardini-Naxos are supposed to be 2 of the best beaches in Sicily, but I must have blinked and missed something, because I didn’t find them attractive at all. If you want to see a good beach Google Noosa, Bondi or Coogee. ( I know I sound like a cranky old tourist right now, and yes, I know the beaches in Australia are different, but I didn’t like these beaches.)
The tourist bus also takes you up to the village above Taormini, called Castelmolo. The ruins of a castle sit right at the top of town offering some spectacular views. A sign along the way says it is one of the most beautiful villages in Italy…it isn’t.
The local bus goes to Isola Bella for €1 a head, a much better prospect. There is a funicular to Isola Bella, but it isn’t operating right now. The local bus takes you to Castelmolo for €1.90. Do not take the tourist bus!
Taormina is beautiful!