This is city is one of my favourite places in Sicily. Let me show you its magic!

Taormina has been a tourist destination since the 19th century. Its beaches on the Ionian sea, including that of Isola Bella, are accessible via an aerial tramway built in 1992, and via highways from Messina in the north and Catania in the south. In 2017 Taormina hosted the 43rd G7 summit.

The history of Taormina dates back to before Ancient Greece established its first colony on Sicily in 734 BCE. Tauromenium – the ancient name derives from the Monte Tauro – the cliff on which the city was built. After the first Punic war in 212 BC, it came into hands of the Roman Empire. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Taormina continued to rank as one of the more important towns on the island.

Today, Taormina lives on tourism. Goethe, Alexander Dumas, Johannes Brahms, Gustav Klimt, D.H. Lawrence, Richard Wagner, Oscar Wilde, Ingmar Bergmann, Francis Ford Coppola, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Federico Fellini, Gregory Peck, Elisabeth Taylor and Woody Allen – they all came here to fall in love.

So I had to discover the place. And I still continue to do it. So far I have visited it 2 times but I promised to come back as it yet has to be discovered. To drive here isn’t easy. You climb a cliff, pass the serpentines and circle and circle. You pass the roundabout with an immediate entrance to the tunnel. Crazy, wicked Sicily 🙂 To park is even harder. But once you master it, I suggest you to enter through Porta Catania and get to Corso Umberto. if you continue, shortly you will be at Piazza Duomo, between the Fountain and the Cathedral.

The duomo of Taormina is dedicated to St. Nicholas, with its austere stone façade, the battlements crowning and the massive bell tower that make it resemble a fortress, stands in the charming Piazza del Duomo. It is part of the medieval buildings of Taormina and in its external appearance, it maintains the characteristics of Sicilian Romanesque-Gothic architecture.

Just opposite stands the called Quattro Fontane. The fountain was built in 17th century in the Baroque style, and it is called 4 fountains because there are 4 small columns supporting basins which are located at the corners of the central basin; mythological ponies overlook the basins and fountain water flows out of their mouths. Above the two central basins, there is the Minotaur, half human and half cow, which is the emblem of the city of Taormina. Depicted in the female version, it has two arms holding an orb and scepter, symbols of power.

Just around the corner I have sit down to have quick macchiato and a glass of prosecco. Out of somewhere, a cute grandpa appeared. As I always my grandpa in old people, I felt heart-melted. He offered me his figue.

Continuing down through the city, on Corso Umberto, there are many bars and restaurants, souvenir shops, gellaterias and other eye-attractive sites.

Then you arrive to Piazza IX Aprile – located right in the center of Corso Umberto. The square is known for the breathtaking view of the azure Ionian Sea and of the Mount Etna. Lined with pricey cafés and brimming with visitors and caricature artists, it’s the best place to sit back with a cappuccino and enjoy the relaxed resorty ambience of Taormina.The square was named after the 9th of April, 1860, when mass in the Taormina cathedral down the street was interrupted to announce that Garibaldi had landed at Marsala (on the far side of the island) to begin his conquest of Sicily that made it part of Italy. Actually, the news proves false. In fact Garibaldi landed at Marsala exactly one month later, on 9 May 1860. However, the inhabitants of Taormina wanted to recall that date dedicating the most beautiful square.

Here is the best place to eat. Sun, breeze, view on the sea, cuisine that melts the smells all around. Just perfect to spend your half a day. So did I. 🙂

Continuing the streets further more, you will arrive to the piazza with the Church of Saint Catherine of Alexandria. The church of Saint Catherine “intra muros” was built on the top of the ruins of the Roman Theater (Odeon), partially destroying its orchestra and its scene which consisted of the southern colonnade of a Greek temple, some say dedicated to Aphrodite. The interior of the church is a single nave, with an elegant wooden-beam trussed ceiling. On the  main  altar  you  can  see  an  imposing  painting  depicting  saint  Catherine’s  martyrdom,  attributed  to  the Sicilian painter Jacopo Vignerio (XVI century).

Piazza from here goes into 4-5 different streets. One of them leads towards Porta Messina. We went towards this direction but turned around quickly as the pedestrian zone stopped and we had a feeling we went out of the city halls.

Ceramics are a really popular souvenir all over Sicily and Taormina is no exception. Ceramic heads of kings and queens are especially sought after in the Taormina area. The story of love and revenge says: A beautiful young girl lived there and spent her days all alone in the house, dedicating her attention to the care of the plants on her balcony. From the top of her lush balcony she was soon noticed by a young Moor, who fell madly in love with her and openly declared his ardent passion for her. The young woman, accustomed to a solitary life, was pleasantly struck by this promise of love and reciprocated her feelings by giving herself to him. After a short time, the young girl discovered that the Moor was hiding a very serious secret. His heart was not totally free as he had told her, he had a wife and children waiting for him in the East and the time had come to return home. The maiden was destroyed to learn such news and embittered by that betrayed love which was now about to abandon her, she was seized with anger which inexorably pushed her to revenge.

So in the night, while the Moor was sleeping, she struck him mortally so he would never abandon her again. She also decided to cut off his head, creating with it a vase, where she placed a basil sprout inside. The maiden knew that this perfumed plant (from the Greek “Basileus – King”) represented the herb of the sovereigns; in this way, in spite of the terrible act performed, she continued to take care of her beloved as if he were her king. She decided to place the Moor’s Head on her balcony, dedicating herself every day to the care of the plant that was growing luxuriantly. The neighbours, pervaded by the scent of the plant, were soon envious of it and had terracotta pots made that were the same features as the one lovingly cared for by the young girl.

The most important and the most impressive part of Taormina is the Greek Amphitheatre. The ancient theatre is without question the most important feature for sight-seers in Taormina, also because for its very fortunate natural setting, with splendid view toward the Calabrian coast, the Ionian coast of Sicily and the spectacular cone of Etna. The construction of the amphitheater starts probably by the Greeks around the third century. BC, at the time of Hiero II. To allow the construction was necessary to remove manually from the mountain over 100,000 cubic meters of rock. The plant was later renovated and expanded by the Romans, who inserted columns, statues and ingenious covers.

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