Taormina is a comune (municipality) in the Metropolitan City of Messina, on the east coast of the island of Sicily, Italy. One of Italy's most historic holiday resorts, Taormina is a quaint small town resting atop a high slope directly above the Ionian Sea on Sicily’s eastern coast. Taormina was first inhabited by the Siculi, and later in 734 BC the Greeks founded a town called Naxos on the Sicilian coast. Near the site of one of the earliest colonies founded by the Ancient Greeks in Sicily, Taormina became a flourishing Greek and then Roman town. The magnitude and grace of the town cathedral and many of its buildings are indication of Taormina's modest affluence over the centuries. After the Roman Empire collapsed, Taormina continued to rank as one of the more important towns of Sicily, and because of the strength of its position was one of the last places to be taken by the Fatimids in 962 AD after a siege of 30 weeks. Renamed "Al-Mu'izziyya" as tribute to Caliph al-Mu’izz who ruled from 953–75, the Muslims ruled until 1078, when the Norman count Roger I of Sicily captured the region. By the end of the 19th century, this charming and antique town was already on the tourist trail, with famous visitors including Oscar Wilde, Richard Wagner and Tsar Nicholas II.
Taormina has a lot to offer for everyone, whether it is a classy honeymoon destination or an economical and cheerful cruise. Over the last years, travelers have come for its scenic beauty, history, culture, and of course the sea.
Things to do and see in Taormina, Italy
Taormina's increasing popularity the decades is mainly due its atmosphere, setting and charm. Although it would be considered your average small town because of its size, the historic center feels like an affluent hill village transformed into a resort. There is much to see and do here.
Taormina is perched high above the sea and offers splendid views over the beaches down below, including the stunning bay of Isola Bella, a small and rocky islet with the remains of a small house and garden here formerly owned by Florence Trevelyan,. Nowadays it is a lovely and atmospheric area strewn with rocks, greenery, historical structures and grottoes, empty pools, and summerhouses. Inside the uninhabited villa, you can go through a small display of historic artefacts.
The Teatro Greco is Taormina's greatest tourist attraction. It is a Greco-Roman open-air theatre constructed into a rocky hillside. Although commonly called a 'Greek' Theatre, Taormina's historic theatre owes much of its present form to the Romans who came after the Greek rule. Designed with a magnificent background of the blue sea, the surrounding mountains and the coastline, the theatre was initiated by the Greeks in the third century BC. In the first century AD, the Romans modified the theatre and stripped out seating to make more room for gladiatorial shows. In the present day, you can mosey around the theatre complex and make your way through the stage and the wings. The curving rows of seats are a wonderful place to sit and while away an hour or two. In the summer, you can attend the Taormina Arte, an arts festival which is organized here.
Besides the Greek Theatre, you can get your fill of history at other archaeological sites around Taormina. Not far from the Teatro Greco are the ruins of a smaller theatre from the Augustan-era. Below Corso Umberto you can catch views of the 'Naumachie', an immense wall whose bowed niches covered a vast water cistern as well as supporting the road above. The strip of land in front of this wall has been made into a narrow public garden. A number of ancient burial grounds are scattered around the area, including some Byzantine graves on Via Pirandello, and a necropolis seen from above the town. To top it all off, why not stop by the display cabinets on Isola Bella, and the widespread ruins of Greek Naxos at Giardini Naxos?
Before you venture to the beach, you can make a stop to admire the Cathedral of Taormina. It is Located near the Taormina port, it dates back to the 13th century and is dedicated to St. Nicholas of Bari. The cathedral was later rebuilt between 1945 to 1948 by Armando Dillon, the architect. The stonework rose window is one of the most iconic features of the façade. The Byzantine Madonna is one of the oldest and most respected artworks inside the cathedral. It is an oil painting depicting the Madonna, encrusted with silver and decorated with precious stones. In 1980, Pope John Paul II dedicated the cathedral as a Minor Basilica.
Later on, you can explore the historic center over a few hours and enjoy the shops and studios and feast on ice-cream. The Corso Umberto is pedestrian-friendly and ideal for a lovely stroll as you look through the shops. Halfway through is the Piazza IX Aprile, a panoramic view point where you can admire the town's magnificent views over the sea and towards Mount Etna. Next, you can have a drink at the historic Caffè Wunderbar and feast at any of the fine restaurants in Taormina. Although the town's eateries chiefly cater to the foreign palate of the visitors, you can still find traditional restaurants authentic local fare with an old fashioned ambience run by families. Some of these can be found at both sides of the town, as well as around the old city gates like the charming rustic restaurant Trattoria da Ugo.
Vacation Rentals at Taormina, Italy
This lovely ancient city offers all that a holidaymaker can dream of – beach, delicious food, history and great sights to see. Taormina can be your next vacation spot, and with the help of CuddlyNest you can find the perfect accommodation to rent. Sift through the properties on our website, pick your amenities, and find “the one” place that will fit you just right – it’s that easy with CuddlyNest!