Taormina embraces its Greco history while sitting on the sandy beaches of the Mediterranean Sea. One of Italy's most fascinating places, it has an ancient Greek city to above, a modern resort below, and fabulous views of famously smoldering Mt. Etna from the old town.
An almost mythical city, it exudes warmth and energy that extends from the glittering bay to the impressive remains of the Greek Theater carved into the hillside above. It is a vertical city, seemingly cantilevered onto the mountain. There is a cable car to transport sun worshippers down to the beaches, and a steep, stepped pathway to leads up to the ruins and beyond, on up the mountain to take in the jaw-dropping views.\
Taormina has a long history, starting with the Sicel people, then the Greeks as part of Magna Grecia, followed by the Romans, the Byzantines, the Saracens, the Normans and the Spanish. Its strategic position, nearly perfect climate, and magical setting has attracted visitors for centuries. Its beautiful sandy beaches have made it a popular resort since the 1800s. But Taormina isn't limited to sun and sand; there are incredible architectural and historical sights to enjoy.
The best known attraction is of course the large and nicely preserved Greek Theater, with its gorgeous setting and interesting ruins. The Roman naumachia was an arena that was flooded to stage mock naval battles in front of an audience. There is the remains of the Odeon (a Greek musical center), the Arab necropolis, and the gardens at the Badia Vecchia to see the variety of cultural marks left on the city. The Palazzo Corvaja was built originally as an Arab tower in the 900s over the remains of the Roman Forum. It sits on the city's oldest piazza, and housed the Sicilian parliament in the 1400s, then became the governors' summer residence before passing to the Corvaja family from 1538 until 1945.
The Cathedral of San Nicolo' was built in the early 1400s on a Latin cross plan with a fortified-looking Romanesque exterior. Inside are six columns of local rose marble topped with capitals of leaves and fish. The Piazza del Duomo also contains the Palazzo del Comune. The checker-board paving is unusual. There is also the square clock tower that is one of Taormina's emblems. Piazza 9 Aprile is a popular gathering spot, nice for enjoying a cappuccino or glass of local wine at a sidewalk cafe.
The city is lively with an annual film festival, an active literary life, and summer performances in the ancient Greek Theatre. There is an abundance of home-style eateries as well as upscale restaurants, interesting shops, and cafes to enjoy, not to mention plenty of places to sample the gelato and pastries that Sicily is famous for. Taormina is near Catania and Mt. Etna, making it a perfect place for enjoying eastern Sicily in style.
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Explore nearby towns
Once a sleepy fishing town, the seaside resort of Giardini Naxos grew in the 1970s and become one of Sicily's premier beach destinations.
One of the longer beaches of Taormina stretches along the Bay of Mazzeo.
Nestled to the north of Taormina, Letojanni is a popular coastal resort.