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Taormina has been one of Sicily's top travel destinations since it became part of the European Grand Tour in the 19th century and Sicily's first resort.
Taormina has remnants of the Greeks and Romans, a fine medieval quarter and castle ruins, and modern shops and restaurants. Perched on the side of Monte Tauro, the town offers fantastic views of the coast and Mount Etna volcano.
Below the town are excellent beaches where you can swim in the clear sea water. Although Taormina can be visited all year, spring and fall are the best times. July and August are hot and crowded.
Taormina is 200 meters above sea level on Monte Tauro on Sicily's east coast. It's 48km south of Messina, Sicily's closest city to the mainland. Mount Etna volcano is about a 45 minute drive southwest of Taormina and farther south is Catania, one of Sicily's largest cities.
Taormina has many excellent restaurants in all price ranges. It's a great place for seafood and outdoor dining, often with views. Near the duomo, Casa Grugno serves cuisine that's a mix of modern and traditional in a medieval Gothic-Catalan residence. Ristorante da Lorenzo, Via Roma 12, serves seafood on a terrace overlooking the sea. Traditional Sicilian food is served at Ristorante la Griglia, Corso Umberto 54, on an outside terrace during nice weather. An inexpensive choice is Porta Messina, next to the city walls at Largo Giove Serapide 4.
Taormina's center, especially Corso Umberto, is a good place for shopping. There are many shops selling high quality items, mostly from Sicily, although you'll find designer fashions and jewelry from mainland Italy, too. There are shops for fashion, jewelry, crafts, mosaics ceramics, puppets, porcelain dolls, and other souvenirs.
Taormina Festivals and Events:
Taormina Arte festival runs from June through August. Plays, concerts, and a film festival are held outdoors in the Greek Theater during summer. Madonna della Rocca is celebrated the second weekend of September with a religious procession and feast.
Taormina's top attractions include the Greek theater, medieval quarter, shopping and beaches.
Beautiful city palace in Taormina.
The Palazzo Corvaia is the most beautiful and best preserved city palace in Taormina. It was built in the late 14th / early 15th Century in the Gothic style and includes an Arab town tower from the 10th Century, which was well integrated into the building. In the vast courtyard, the Sicilian parliament met in 1410 to choose a new king. The first floor now houses the Museo Siciliano di Arte e Tradizioni Popolari, a small ethnographic museum with several exhibits from a local antiques dealer.
Opposite the palace is the small single-nave church of St. Catherine.
The most famous building in Taormina.
The Greek Theatre is undoubtedly the most famous building in Taormina and probably one of the best known in whole Sicily. It was probably built in the third Century BC by Hiero II of Syracuse and was completely renewed and expanded during the Roman period. Although it still bears the name Greek Theatre, since the Roman conversion it is a specifically Roman theatre with all the important features such as the semicircular cavea, the raised stage and the richly varied stage house, whose rows of seats finish with the wall and therefore form a closed room. The Romans replaced the Greek tragedies and comedies by bloody gladiatorial spectacles in the late imperial period.
The breathtaking scenery with Mount Etna as a backdrop is very impressive and was praised by Goethe. The most beautiful time to visit the theatre is in the morning when the air is still clear or in the evening when the beautifully illuminated theatre offers plenty of romance and allure. There are also plenty of opportunities to attend various shows and concerts in the summer months.
Small Roman theatre in Taormina.
The Odeon is located only a few steps from Palazzo Corvaia in a nondescript corner. The small Roman theatre was discovered in 1892 and was probably mainly used for small-scale vocal performances. Also preserved are the marble steps from the base of a Greek temple, which was located alongside the Odeon in pre-Christian times.
Piazza IX. Aprile:
Vibrant centre of Taormina.
The Piazza IX. Aprile marks the transition into the medieval district of Taormina. The beautiful and lively square is a popular meeting point in the evening in Taormina and is located along the Corso Umberto I. Several cafés, a panoramic terrace with beautiful panoramic views, the public library in the former Church of St. Augustine and many merchants and street performers lend the place an incomparable atmosphere. Through the Torre dell’Orologio, a medieval clock tower from the 12th Century, you will finally enter the oldest part of Taormina.
Cathedral of San Nicola:
Cathedral Square and Cathedral of Taormina.
In the centre of the medieval Taormina is the Cathedral Square. An eye-catcher and the main attraction is the Cathedral of San Nicola. It was built in splendid medieval-baroque style in the 13th Century by the Swabians. The unplastered outer walls including battlements are from the medieval period, while the beautiful main entrance is clearly of Baroque origin and dates from the rebuilding in the 17th Century. The portal also harmonises well with the baroque fountain, which is located in the centre of the square and topped with a little centaur.
The interior of the cathedral is decorated simply with only a few works and paintings. Among the works are the "Madonna and Child with Saints" by Antonello da Saliba and the "Visitation of Mary" by Antonio Giuffrè.
Porta Catania and Palazzo Duca di Santo Stefano:
City gate and Gothic palace.
The main street of Taormina, the Corso Umberto, ends in the west of the city at the Porta Catania, the old city gate of Taormina. The beautiful city gate was rebuilt several times and still bears the coat of arms of Aragon over the archway. Right next to Porta Catania is the three-storey Palazzo Duca di Santo Stefano, one of the most beautiful palaces in Taormina. It was built in the 14th Century in Gothic style, but still bears Arab and Norman features. Inside the palace you can find temporary exhibitions, which allow you to visit the palace.