Perched on a rocky terrace overlooking the Ionian Sea, Taormina is a picturesque Sicilian town. Its breathtaking views of the sea and Mt. Etna, accompanied by wisps of steam from the crater, create a mesmerising backdrop.
Many often explore beyond the renowned ancient amphitheatre and charming houses adorned with flowers as they go on to admire the interiors of Baroque churches, shop at enticing boutiques, stroll through streets and gardens, ascend to the castle, or head to the beaches below.
This goes on to show that there are a lot many things to do in Taormina that offers a harmonious blend of history, landscapes, and culture, captivating everyone from around the world. With ancient ruins, panoramic vistas, and mouthwatering cuisine, this timeless gem guarantees you an unforgettable experience in Sicily!
How to get to Taormina:
To get to Taormina, take a plane to Catania. You can then reach the town by car in an hour if you take the A18 and E45 route.
If you wish to travel by bus , there's one bus every hour from Monday to Saturday and 2 on Sunday from the airport. It takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes by bus.
Top Things to do in Taormina
So now let's take a look at all the different things to do in Taormina, so you can craft the perfect itinerary for your upcoming trip to this magical town.
Explore the Ancient Theatre
When in Taormina, you should begin your journey by stepping back in time at the Ancient Theatre. Perched on a hilltop, this well-preserved Greco-Roman amphitheatre offers sweeping views of the Ionian Sea. Originally built in the 3rd century BC under Hiero II of Syracuse, it was later on completely rebuilt under Roman rule in the second century BC, with all the characteristics of a Roman theatre .I recommend that you get a guide to explore this place since there are various stories that tell the history behind this beautiful place. It would be fun to immerse yourself in the historical ambience as you wander through the grand archways and experience the acoustics that once resonated with the echoes of ancient performances. During the summer months, the theatre comes alive with a variety of cultural events, including concerts, plays, and film festivals, adding a touch of modern flair to this ancient marvel.
Another place that you should check out is Taormina's main pedestrian street, Corso Umberto. It begins with the Piazza IX Aprile, crossing the town, and ending at Porta Catania. Lined with quaint shops, elegant boutiques, and charming cafes, this bustling thoroughfare offers an ideal setting for leisurely walks and retail therapy. If you love architecture, You get to admire the architectural wonders, such as Palazzo Corvaja and Palazzo dei Duchi di Santo Stefano, which stand as testaments to Taormina's rich history. You can go on to treat your taste buds to delectable pastries, gelato, or a refreshing espresso at one of the many charming cafés that dot the street.
Don't forget to explore the hidden alleys and side streets, which often reveal delightful surprises, including local artisan shops and traditional Sicilian handicrafts.
Palazzo Corvaja is a must-visit destination for history and architecture enthusiasts alike.
A truly captivating architectural marvel, this mediaeval palace stands proudly in the heart of the town, inviting visitors to step back in time. As you approach, you'll be awestruck by its imposing presence and intricate design. The blend of Gothic and Moorish influences creates a lively and unique facade. Inside, you'll find the Sicilian Museum of Art and Folk Traditions, which showcases a collection of artwork and artefacts made by Sicilian craftsmen from the 16th to the 20th Century. that provide insight into the town's cultural heritage. You should check out the courtyard that has elegant arches and lush greenery, offering a serene escape from the bustling streets. Just adjacent to the area, is the church of Santa Caterina and remains of a small Roman theatre that broke down over the years.
Marvel at the Views from Isola Bella
If you want an escape from the hustle and bustle of the town centre, venture to Isola Bella, a small island just off the coast of Taormina. Connected to the mainland by a thin strip of sand, this nature reserve is a paradise for nature lovers. A leisurely hike along the island's trails, soaking in the breathtaking views of the crystal-clear waters and surrounding landscapes will leave you with a refreshed change of scenery. You can also take a dip in the azure waters of the secluded beaches, or simply bask in the tranquillity of this hidden gem. Isola Bella offers a perfect retreat for relaxation, photography, and exploring the rich marine life through snorkelling or diving.
Discover the Wonders of Mount Etna
No visit to Taormina is complete without a trip to Mount Etna, Europe's most active volcano. You're in for a treat as you uncover the geological wonders that make Mount Etna an iconic natural wonder.
If you're aiming for an unforgettable adventure, you should try ascending the slopes of this majestic giant. You can choose from a range of guided tours that cater to different fitness levels, allowing you to explore the lunar-like landscapes, ancient craters, and lava formations. What I found best, is this tour that captures awe-inspiring vistas from the volcano's summit, where panoramic views stretch as far as the eye can see.
If you'd like to try a more adventurous path, there are various hiking trails that offer an up-close and personal experience with the volcanic terrain.
Indulge in Sicilian Cuisine
Taormina is a haven for food enthusiasts, offering a delightful array of Sicilian culinary delights. You get to sample arancini, the famous fried rice balls filled with various savoury ingredients, or savour a plate of freshly caught seafood at one of the charming waterfront restaurants. You definitely shouldn't miss the opportunity to try pasta alla Norma, a local speciality made with eggplant, tomatoes, ricotta salata, and basil, or indulge in cannoli, a sweet pastry filled with creamy ricotta cheese and topped with pistachios or chocolate. And the best part is the wine! Pair your culinary adventures with a glass of Sicilian wine, known for its distinct flavours and rich history. Taormina's dining scene caters to all tastes, offering a blend of traditional Sicilian cuisine and international influences, ensuring a gastronomic experience to remember! What I do recommend is that you book a tour that allows you to cater to all your taste buds under one roof!
Visit the Gardens of Villa Comunale
If you love some peace and quiet, you should check out the gardens of Villa Comunale. The gardens were created by an Englishwoman named Florence Trevelyan, who planted many rare species of plants and built the Victorian stone follies that exist even today. This lush oasis provides a tranquil escape from the bustling streets of Taormina. The meticulously landscaped gardens are adorned with vibrant flowers, exotic plants, and serene water features. This offers a wonderful spot for a lovely stroll! You can also find peaceful locations to relax and enjoy panoramic views of the coastline, Mount Etna, and the neighbouring town of Giardini Naxos.
The gardens also house a charming café, where you can savour a refreshing drink while taking in the picturesque surroundings. Whether you seek a romantic retreat or a peaceful respite, the Gardens of Villa Comunale offer a delightful sanctuary.
Castelmola is a charming village perched about 529 metres high, above Taormina. It's like stepping into a fairytale! No wonder that it is listed among the most beautiful villages in Italy. With its narrow cobblestone streets, ancient buildings, and breathtaking views, Castelmola is a hidden gem worth exploring.
The picturesque town allows you to engage with the location as you stop by the quaint cafes and shops along the way. Don't forget to visit the impressive Castello di Castelmola, the gorgeous and magnificent castle in the town that offers panoramic vistas of the surrounding countryside and the mesmerising Mount Etna. And if you're a fan of almond wine, Castelmola is renowned for its delicious almond-based liqueur. It's a place that will capture your heart and leave you longing to return. The places around this castle include scenes from where “The Godfather” movie was shot. You should definitely include that in your itinerary when you're visiting Castelmola. You can also join a special tour that gives you insights into the castle as well as the locations of the Godfather scenes.
Madonna della Rocca & Via Circonvallazione
Madonna della Rocca is a fascinating church perched on a rocky cliff overlooking the town. It's a steep climb, about 300 steps on foot,that takes about 20 minutes to reach but the panoramic views of Taormina and the Ionian Sea are worth it. Inside the church, you'll find beautiful frescoes and a serene atmosphere that invites you to sit in peaceful contemplation.
As for Via Circonvallazione, it's a charming street that winds its way around Taormina, offering stunning vistas and glimpses of local life. You can take a stroll along this scenic route, and you'll discover hidden corners, cosy cafés, and shops selling traditional Sicilian products. It's the perfect way to soak in the enchanting ambience of Taormina.
Cattedrale di San Nicola
Nestled in the heart of the town, this stunning cathedral is a testament to Taormina's rich history and architectural splendour. Once you step inside you'll be greeted by a tranquil ambience and intricate details that will leave you in awe. Founded by the Hohenstaufens in the 13th century and altered several times in the 15th to 17th centuries, it combines mediaeval and modern alike. The ornate altar, adorned with exquisite sculptures and delicate artwork showcases Taormina's flair of fine arts. As the light filtering through the stained glass windows creates a mesmerising play of colours, you can't help but to be stunned at such a beautiful scene.
The interior is decorated with a number of works dating from the 15th and 16th centuries, including the 15th-century "Visitation of the Virgin Mary" by Antonio Giuffrè and "Madonna and Child with Saints" by Antonello da Saliba, painted in 1504. The Cattedrale di San Nicola is a true gem that shouldn't be missed during your visit to Taormina!
Porta Catania and Palazzo Duca di Santo Stefano
The main street of Taormina, Corso Umberto, culminates at Porta Catania, a city gate dating back to the 1400s, adorned with the Aragon coat-of-arms. Porta Catania's grand entrance gate welcomes you into the historic centre of Taormina. You're transported into a world of charm and history as you pass through its arches. Wander through the streets, lined with quaint shops and cafés, and soak in the vibrant atmosphere.
Just a stone's throw away, stands the Palazzo Duca di Santo Stéfano, an elegant three storied palace that showcases Taormina's aristocratic past. It was erected simultaneously with Porta Catania. This palazzo is easily recognizable due to its Gothic windows, distinctive fish-tail crenellations, and intricately crafted stonework adorning the upper section. Within the premises, the Great Hall hosts concerts, while two rooms showcase artworks by the renowned sculptor Giuseppe Mazzullo. Together, these landmarks offer a glimpse into Taormina's rich heritage and add to the enchantment of this captivating town.
This charming church is tucked away in a quiet corner, exuding an air of serenity. As you enter, you'll be greeted by a tranquil atmosphere and a stunning display of religious art. Built in 1448, and dedicated to Saint Sebastian, this gothic church is believed to have saved the city from a plague. Later, it became a monastery for the Hermits of St. Augustine. A bell tower and entrance arch was changed later in the 1700. Now, it acts as a public library. But you can still marvel at the intricately adorned altar and the delicate frescoes that are on the walls. The interior of Sant Agostino exudes a sense of reverence and history, transporting you to a bygone era.
This gorge is famous for its lovely shapes that the rocks have formed over the years. Somewhere around 50 metres deep and only 5 metres wide, this gorge holds the water of River Alcantara that flows along the northern side of Mount Etna. Nestled amidst the lush Sicilian countryside, this enchanting geological formation is a sight to behold. The gorge was formed by the cooling of lava flows from Mount Etna thousands of years ago.
Over the years, the river broke this formation and made a channel for itself to flow, resulting in unique basalt columns and crystal-clear waters. This gorge is now a part of the Gole Alcantara Botanical and Geological Park. During summers, you can take a leisurely walk along the pathways, admiring the towering cliffs and listening to the soothing sounds of the flowing river. If you're one of the adventurous, wading through the cool waters or exploring the hidden caves adds an extra thrill. This Gorge offers a refreshing escape from the heat and a remarkable opportunity to witness the beauty of nature's craftsmanship.
You can take a bus from Taormina that reaches the Gorge in 30 minutes.
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