Taormina ... the Pearl of the Ionian Sea

Taormina is the reason we first visited Sicily after it was featured in UK Glamour magazine as an alternative Valentines weekend destination and it will always remain my personal favourite place.

From Giardini Naxos,Taormina up above appears to tumble down the hillside towards the sea.

Piazza IX Aprile with San Guiseppe and Wunderbar Cafe
Taormina is filled with ancient monuments and archaeology from various cultures including the Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans and Spanish.

Taormina has a feeling of exclusivity and has been visited by writers, artists and celebrities over many years.

The main pedestrianised Corso Umberto which weaves through Taormina between Porta Catania and Porta Messina entices you to experience boutiques from the best Italian designers, tempting gelaterias and pasticcerias, and the many narrow steps leading up and down from the Corso invite you towards restaurants, many that have terraces with a view of the sparkling Ionian Sea.

I never need an excuse to visit Taormina except to enjoy the ambience it creates.
My top tip is to start at Porta Messina walking along Corso Umberto towards Porta Catania.
There are many amazing things to do in Taormina and here are my pick of the best;

Teatro Greco with Naxos and Mount Etna as natural scenery

A visit to the Teatro Greco (the greek theatre) is a must, dating from the 3rd century BC the views are stunning, the stage has a natural scenery of Mount Etna and the Bay of Naxos. Visit either early morning or late afternoon to avoid the tourists and groups from cruise ships. In June it is host to the Taormina Film Festival and in summer features many concerts, operas and ballet.

Palazzo Corvaja is a medieval Sicilian palace, dating from the 10th century and was built by the Arabs, it is home to the tourist information office and a museum of Sicilian folklore.

Opposite is the church of Santa Caterina, here you can view the ancient Roman Odeon on which it was built, the ruins can be seen around the back and also inside the church exposed under the floor.

Santa Caterina built over the Roman Odeon
Tourists and locals collide in the middle of Corso Umberto at Piazza IX Aprile which is known as Taormina’s balcony. There are sweeping views from the terrace towards a smoking Etna and the Bay of Naxos. Here there are the two churches of Sant’ Agostino and the beautiful San Giuseppe. The piazza is surrounded by stylish cafes, including the famous Wunderbar CafĂ©.

Next stop along the Corso is Piazza Duomo with the cathedral built in the 13th century. We have had the pleasure of attending a Sicilian Christmas wedding here and also renewed our wedding vows here two years ago. In front of the cathedral is a 17th century baroque fountain featuring mythological characters. Legend says that if you drink the water from the fountain you will stay young forever, so I always fill up my water bottle when passing.

Porta Catania marks the end of Corso Umberto.

I always take time to explore the many steps leading up and down from Corso Umberto, there is always something new to discover.

One of my favourite places is the Giardino Pubblico (public gardens). We always take time to walk through these beautiful gardens, our dog Daisy particularly loves a walk here, of course this has nothing to do with the fact that it is next to Taormina's tennis club and quite often she will find a rogue tennis ball, to Daisy this is like striking gold. She also likes to pay a visit to the gardens two resident parrots. The gardens have a relaxing feel away from the glamour of Corso Umberto.
Giardino Pubblico (public gardens)

Another exciting experience is to take the cable car down towards the sea to Mazzaro (also known as Taormina’s seafront). Here you can visit Isola Bella and take a boat to show you the mystical Blue Grotto and the Bay of Sirens.

Another on my list is to visit the small hilltop town of Castelmola, the adventurous can attempt the walk or you can take a bus from the Taormina bus terminal.

There are many beautiful hotels in Taormina to choose from and most are housed in elegant old villas.

Isola Bella and Mazzaro, viewed from Taormina
Taormina is stunning by day but the whole vibe changes at night. Starting with the evening passeggiata, there is a wonderful selection of restaurants to try, with chilled chic bars and cafes open until the small hours.

If I was allowed five words to describe Taormina I would choose, Glamorous, Romantic, Breathtaking and Awe-Inspiring.

What to wear … something cool and comfortable for the day and full on glamour for the night.

Photo Gallery

Sicilian Wedding at The Duomo

Fountain at Piazza Duomo

Corso Umberto
Taormina by Night

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