Things To Do In Taormina
Taormina is a town in Sicily that sits on a hill and located 300 meters above the sea. This fascinating town under the Province of Messina is recognized as “The Pearl of Europe”. It has a wonderful landscape with structures that convey mythical resonances and impressive Roman ruins. Taormina stands like a huge balcony with terraced hills and plenty of villas which bring distinct and cheerful colors against the immense blue sky.
In this town you will find the Cathedral of San Nicola which was built in the late 13th century, with revisions made between 15th and 17th centuries. Within its winding streets and steep landscape is where you can find the Corvaja Palace. It was built by the Arabs after they conquered the area in 902 A.D. Until now, the Arabic design is visible on its windows and the shape of its tower. The Greek Amphitheater (Teatro Greco) was built here in Taormina during the 3rd century BC. On a clear day, the Ionian Sea and Mount Etna, the largest active volcano in all of Europe can be seen in the distance.
When To Go:
The best time to visit the town of Taormina is from April to June and from late September to October because it is during this time (fall season) when the atmosphere by clear skies and cold temperature. It is also the high season for tourism because most tourist buses are packed with foreigners and students who want to visit the important attractions of this seaside resort town. The week long holiday leading to Easter Sunday (first or second week of April) is also considered as the peak season to enjoy a tour around Taormina.
The month of July up to the second week of September (school vacation and summer season) is the perfect time to hit the beaches. The temperature reaches its peak in the month of August. If hot weather is something that you cannot tolerate, avoid travelling to Taormina around this time. The dry weather is terrible that some business stalls and attractions choose to close or stop operation during the day and resumes at night when the humidity has already lessened.
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The month of October up to December is when the weather starts to get calm and colder and when tourist arrivals increase along with reservations on hotels, booked tickets on major attractions, and flight deals. This festive atmosphere continues up to the holiday season (Christmas and New Year) specifically from December 20 to January 7 because most shops and the top attractions are all open and operate for longer hours. The third week of January is the time when the freezing temperature in Taormina takes a dive and the worst time to go around the scenic town, especially along the steep mountain areas.
Here are the major attractions and top things to do in Taormina:
Greek Amphitheater (Teatro Greco)
The Greek Amphitheater or the Teatro Greco is a spectacular attraction in Taormina where history is combined with the beauty of nature. Once you climb up the steps of this old theater and look towards the stage, behind it you will see Mt. Etna on the Gulf of Naxos, the wide open sea, and the captivating view of Taormina. Even if some areas of this ancient structure are a bit dilapidated and too haphazard, it is still worth a visit while in Taormina. It’s really worth spending a whole day to come and admire the beauty that surrounds it.
The Greek Theater is famous here in Taormina for the film festival and its contribution to the history of Sicily. It was first created by the Greeks and later enlarged and transformed by the Romans. The original project preserves the amphitheater with excellent acoustics, while the Roman project preserves the majesty of the proscenium (the arch and the area that surrounds the stage). The tour is best done with a guide to appreciate its hidden secrets. The ideal time of the day in which to visit the theater is in the late afternoon / sunset, when the air is fresh and if weather permits you can see the sea, the sunset and the rocky ridge overlooking Mt. Etna. It has a surreal atmosphere with stunning views and a magical place full of history. The ancient theater of Taormina is a must-see and once you enter the arena, you will feel the greatness of the moment.
Chiesa di San Giuseppe
The Chiesa di San Giuseppe is located at Piazza IX Aprile next to the clock tower. This baroque church dominates the view of the entire piazza. It has a majestic double staircase fenced with a magnificent carved stone balustrade and decorated with potted agave. Do not miss the terrace in front with a breathtaking view of the coast during the day and at night, be amused as you get to meet some street performers (Italian musicians or painters).
The facade of the Chiesa di San Giuseppe has a large central door that leads to the church and two small portals. The interior of the church has a nave with a transept that has a dome in the center. In the middle part, you can find an image of the dove that signifies the Holy Spirit.
The walls of the church are decorated with stucco depicting floral motifs and heads of angels, while the side walls have frescoes with the figures of the prophets and in the top of these paintings are evangelical facts derived from the Holy Bible. The floor is home to a large plaque inlaid with black and white marble, showing a human figure in the flames; it also serves as the access to the ancient ossuary. The main altar of the church is made with polychrome marble of Taormina; the two side altars are dedicated to St. John Bosco and St. Joseph, represented in various paintings and statues. More artistic elements of note include the pulpit decorated by a large chandelier in gilded wood hanging in front of the main altar, the urn of the dead Christ, hot pink marble of the sacristy and the bell tower.
Cattedrale di Taormina
The Cattedrale di Taormina is medium-sized church with simple decor and located along the main square of Taormina (Piazza IX Aprile). It is certainly not the most sumptuous cathedral in Italy, but it has a picturesque air and is set in a scenario of great beauty with the sea which can be seen from it.
This cathedral was built in the early 13th century and dedicated to San Nicola di Bari (270 BC to 352 BC). Inside, there is a central painting depicting his life. The interesting internal details unite the holy and the profane, the modern and the medieval. The historical concept of this cathedral is worth the visit. The architecture has not much fanfare, but inside it has eye catching pink marble columns.
Piazza IX Aprile
Taormina can be summed up by a majestic looking square named the Piazza IX Aprile. It is an interesting terrace which stops at every important attraction wherever one turns. On one side, you can see a terrace that highlights the view of Mt. Etna, Greek Theater, the Bay of Naxos, the clock tower and gate, the church of San Giuseppe with its beautiful marble and the municipal library. Amid a flood of tourists, everyone stops at this point and gets fascinated by its splendour.
There are many bars and restaurants and the typical artists who love to paint portraits and landscapes and singers that contribute to the uniqueness of the place. The atmosphere is always clean and cared for despite the presence of thousands of tourists per week. If you visit the Piazza during the Christmas season, you will find a huge Christmas tree that makes the atmosphere more magical. The name of the square is named after the day when Garibaldi landed at Marsala which started the reunification of Italy. The beautiful terrace offers an amazing view of the coast and the attractions facing the Ionian Sea.
Giardini della Villa Comunale
The Giardini della Villa Comunale is a public park in Taormina. This park once belonged to the eccentric Lady Trevelyan, who built the unusual pavilions for her animals. Its tree-lined paths and plenty of flowers are not only full of examples of the Mediterranean, but also of exotic and rare plants from around the world. The extraordinary view includes the south of Taormina, the Ionian Sea and Mount Etna. The villa, the stone walls, and statues refer to ancient times and the silence helps to create a leisurely atmosphere from the real world. It is not the variety of plants and flowers that make this garden a little paradise in the center of Taormina. It is the scents that the flowers create that makes it a pleasant place to stay or spend the afternoon with. In addition, you can enjoy stunning views in this green corner out of the chaos of tourists who crowd the streets of Taormina.
For those staying for more days in Taormina, do not miss this garden that has a relaxing spot under the shade of the trees, where you can sit on a bench while reading a book, or simply gaze around to see a unique view. The garden is not very big, but it is all shaded with great variety of plants, trees, and flowers, with a nice view of the sea, the village, the mountains and perched villages. It pays to take long walks and sit on the benches in front of this magnificent view and photograph the Gulf of Naxos with confidence.
Life is more beautiful on earth if there are wonderful places like the Isola Bella. The history of this island looks like the script of a soap opera; it is so complex and full of twists. The first owner is the noble Lady Trevelyan, who bought it in 1890 and was fascinated by Taormina to the point of moving to this country. She was responsible for the rich vegetation of the island. Later on, the island passed with ups and downs in other hands until the Italian state, at a cost of about 10 billion Liras at the end of the nineties, handed it to the management of a research center at the University of Catania who renovated it into a nature museum.
These series of events fortunately, have not scratched the wonder and mystic charm of the park that today can be visited at a cost of €4. To reach this attraction, you must get off from the center of Taormina with the cable car to Mazzarò and once there, turn right and follow the road for a few hundred meters. Getting to Isola Bella is a joy because, the view is lovely, you get to swim in the clean sea with blue green colors, you can spend the day at the beach well served, and take a boat trip to the caves.
Corso Umberto is the main street of Taormina that is lined with many fine stores of signature brands and souvenir shops. The course is also filled with elegant hotels and where you can find the famous Piazza Belvedere of Taormina. It is always full of people and tourists that in certain moments during the summer make it difficult to even walk straight from one corner to another, but it still remains intriguing and fascinating.
A walk along this main street is really a must because it offers everything that a tourist could want like; monuments, old palaces, Sicilian bars and restaurants, and the most authentic gift shops. Before you get into town, you can park your car outside Taormina, but most locals will recommend using the Interbus line that stops 200 meters from the main road. The beautiful entrance immediately arouses curiosity and fascination that fill the visitor satisfaction and curiosity for interesting things to see.
The Palazzo Corvaja is a historic building overlooking the Piazza Santa Caterina and the church of the same name. It is near Messina Port and at the beginning of the road leading to the Greek Theatre. It comes with a superb facade crowned with battlements and embellished with triple lancet windows. Beautiful and noteworthy are the three panels in relief in the courtyard and paintings drawn from Genesis’ Biblical events, specifically the creation of Eve, original sin, and the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise. The palace was built on the ancient Roman forum at the square of the ancient Tauromenion.
The original nucleus of the palace was a tower built by the Arabs around the year 1000. The tower is cube-shaped just like the Kaaba in Mecca, according to which Muhammad was the first temple erected to God by Abraham. In 1411, it was the seat of the Sicilian Parliament and the summer residence of the Spanish queen Bianca of Navarra, which at that time was governor of Sicily. The current name of the Palace refers to the noble family of Corvaja, who lived there from 1538 to 1945. In 1946, the building was restored by architect Armando Dillon. Currently the property is owned by the city and houses the Public Library and the Mediterranean Centre of Dramatic Arts. The ground floor also houses the tourist information center of Taormina.
Spiaggia di Mazzeo
Like all the other beaches of Taormina, the Spiaggia di Mazzeo is more on beach stones than sand, but the sea gives the whole tone and marks the beauty of the place. The beach is very nice and the village of Mazzeo is located in a prime location for a holiday at the sea in complete relaxation. Taormina, with all its beauty can be easily reached in a few minutes and without a car thanks to the shuttle that runs every hour from the town center.
Also on the beach there are many restaurants that serve fresh fish. The sea is very clean and generally flat with crystal clear water; it is so clear that you can see the fish swimming. It really is the most beautiful place to spend some time relaxing and enjoying the quiet atmosphere. It is so pleasant that you would not want to go home!
Playa Sole Luna
The Playa Sole Luna is a very convenient beach placed in an easily accessible location with friendly staff, fascinating landscape and delicious food. The view down the little road full of curves is spectacular. The beach has a Lido (an enclosed area on the beach lined with beach chairs, bar, etc). On a b beautiful day, the blue sea and transparency is something of another world. To enter the water, it is necessary to go through a small strip of smooth rounded stones, so it is highly recommended to use slippers or water shoes. The lido is nice and looks very organized and the local restaurants make great Sicilian cuisine. The staffs are well trained, attentive, and know how to put their customers at ease. There is also a spa section where you can bring your dog/cat and there are areas reserved just for your furry little friends and for you.
Taormina is among the cities in Sicily, that looks more fascinating even from afar. It enjoys a unique and naturally rugged landscape that is favored by a gentle climate and a sky that is almost always serene and full of warm sunshine. In those precious gifts of nature, the work of man is combined with structures that are preserved for many centuries and the valuable artistic treasures. Taormina is now embracing the aspects of modernization but it has completely preserved every bit of the old landmarks and historic buildings that you can marvel along its course. In addition to this, the hospitality of the people, organized traffic system, and serene atmosphere contributes to making the city the most famous tourist destination in Sicily.
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