This incredible mountainside city has become one of Sicily’s most popular destinations, drawing in visitors with its unique combination of ancient relics and spectacular views.
Taormina was built high on a rocky headland thousands of years ago, giving it fantastic views of the deep blue waters below and across to the active volcano of Mount Etna. This glamorous destination became a favourite holiday spot for some of the most exceptional creatives of the 20th century. D. H. Lawrence, Oscar Wilde and Gustav Klimt were all drawn to this inspirational landscape.
Residents have since used the city’s dramatic scenery as a backdrop for the fanciest parties, dinners and glitzy events. A trip to Taormina can be expensive, but don’t let that put you off. With many high-end restaurants and boutiques to choose from the A-list lifestyle doesn’t come cheap. However, there are plenty of simple pleasures to enjoy and, with a landscape as splendid as Taormina’s, it is true that the best things in life are free.
With its beautiful architecture and great shopping, the medieval quarter is not to be missed. Once you see the Porta di Mezzo, the city’s landmark clock tower, you know you’ve found the beginning of the area. Stroll from there to the piazza containing the fortress-style San Nicola cathedral and a Baroque fountain. The fountain was built in the 17th century and is crowned with a Minotaur, the unusual emblem of this unique city. Walk further to explore the main street, Corso Umberto, to find exclusive stores, gift shops and restaurants. Even if you might find the prices here a little steep for a simple souvenir, this attractive buttercup coloured street is worth visiting even if you only plan on window shopping.
Mazzarò is the most popular beach with visitors and its pebbled shore is beautiful enough to be worth the visit alone. However, the spectacular cable car ride down from the main city is what makes it really special.
Close by is the islet of Isola Bella, where bright, leafy greenery clashes with the intense blue of the sea. The tiny island becomes cut off from the mainland during high tide, but low tide reveals a small but pristine beach.
Further along the coastline, a short drive away is Giardini Naxos. A longer stretch of golden sands bordered by fine eateries and bars make this a great location to watch the sunset.
Mount Etna is the largest active volcano in Europe. Take a day trip to the fiery foothills, or those brave enough can even explore the volcanic craters. There you will see the distinctive black rock, made from the cooled magma from one of Etna’s frequent eruptions. The black rock and white snow-capped mountain top contrast with the vibrant greens of the countryside made so fertile by the volcano. Due to the constant lava flows creating new tracks, a visit to Mount Etna is never the same twice.
Visit the Greek Theatre
The city’s most famous landmark is the well preserved Greek Theatre. First built in the 3rd century BC, the staggered stage was completely redesigned a century later when under Roman rule. Originally built for dramatic performances, the Romans’ alternative taste in entertainment meant that it was later used for gladiatorial battles. Here you can enjoy one of the many performances, including concerts, ballets and plays, which make use of the space today. Sit at the very top of the semi-circular theatre to experience one of the most iconic views in the whole of Italy, overlooking the Ionian bay and towards Mount Etna and even the Calabrian coast in the distance.
Enjoy the Film Festival
The month of June is when the Taormina Film Fest takes place. The summer festival has attracted the greatest of the golden age of Hollywood – Cary Grant, Elizabeth Taylor and Gregory Peck have all been known to attend. This impressive heritage has continued to draw the biggest names in the industry today, such as Steven Spielberg, Tom Cruise and Amy Adams. Founded at a time when Italian cinema was taking the world by storm, it remains an important fixture in the film calendar. Come for screenings with the stars, set outside beneath the stars for a romantic and atmospheric cinema experience.
Explore the gardens
If you’re looking for somewhere tranquil, try the Giardini della Villa Comunale. These public gardens were established, surprisingly, by an Englishwoman named Florence Trevelyan in the 19th century. Since then, a wonderland of tropical plants has grown around a mix of stone and wood follies. There is a children’s play area and plenty of places to sit in the shade and admire the gardens around you.
Caught between the land and the sea, Taormina cuisine draws from both, with meat and fish options alternately taking centre stage. Swordfish is taken fresh from the sea and then lightly marinated with flavours such as lemon, garlic and parsley and served grilled. Pasta is cooked simply, with tomatoes, capers, basil and anchovies being a common combination. Sit back with a glass of local Sicilian wine and let the clean, fresh flavours win you over.
When looking for dessert, Cannoli Alla Siciliana is bound to satisfy those with a sweet tooth. Crisp pastry tubes are filled with a sweet and creamy ricotta and dusted with a little sugar. Try different flavours, such as pistachio, cocoa or orange. Ricotta is essential to Sicilian cooking and is a repeated theme in recipes from breakfast through till dinner.
Restaurants in Taormina
Fine dining is a way of life in Taormina. The city boasts Michelin-star dining and award winning ingredients, but the food is only half of the story, as many of the restaurants are excellently located. Rooftop restaurants and bars add an extra level of charm to any meal.
Taormina has a rich history and it is clear to see why this landscape has drawn people in for thousands of years. If a holiday to elegant Taormina sounds like the right choice for you, easyJet holidays will set your vacation off in style. Booking your hotels and flights together, easyJet holidays provides a hassle-free experience that leaves you with more spending money for the finer things in life. If you’re looking for a more of a mainland adventure, try reading our destination guide to Tuscany for inspiration on the birthplace of the Renaissance.