Taormina

Taormina

Taormina draws in the jetsetters, the nouveau riche and everything in between to its romantic alleyways and dazzling hotels. Taormina offers a breathtaking landscape dense with man-made archeology. There’s a lots of history in every corner of the city infact it was Taormina that the Oxen of the Sun roamed the plains in Odysseyean tales. The spectacular views of the smoldering Mount Etna and accross two bays out to the Ionian Sea have helped make Taormina Sicily’s most famous – and fabled – resort town. Cascading down the slopes of Mount Tauro at some 200 mt. above sea level, Taormina first became a port of call in the 18th century when it formed part of The Grand Tour, and travelers flocked to see the well-preserved Teatro Greco amphitheater, where you can still see plays and concerts against the backdrop of distant Etna.

Soon Taormina evolved into the destination of choice for aristocracy, bohemians artists and jetsetters alike and among the famous names who hung out in the town is D.H. Lawrence, who was inspired to write “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” when he was there. Over the years, the town became Sicily’s answer to Monte Carlo, today Taormina still has an air of chic, which is evident in the prices, but as the island’s prime tourist destination it can also get incredibly crowded during the summer months. Its winding medieval streets are packed with Arab, Norman and baroque monuments, as well as numerous restaurants, cafes and shops. The town is a shopper’s paradise with a plethora of souvenir shops, plus a host of jewelers, smart designer boutiques and funky stores selling everything from hats to chandeliers.

In summer, you can hang out at the beaches below the town at Giardini-Naxos  by day but, if you want  to escape the tourist hordes, seek out adventures: Perhaps climbing Mount Etna, walking to the Castelmola or making a trip to Syracuse. Everything is within walking distance in Taormina, though you might encouter a steep climb now and then, this is a hilltop town.

The centre of Taormina is incredibly easy to visit and you can view all the main attractions in under two hours. The Teatro Greco is Taormina’s most visited monument, offering a view of rare beauty of the seacoast and Mount Etna. The ruins lie on the upper reaches of Taormina; In the Hellenistic period, the Greeks hewed the theater out of the rocky slope of Mount Tauro; the Romans remodeled and modified it greatly. What remains today dates from the 2nd century A.D. Reserved seating existed even in Greek times; a seat bears the inscribed name of Philistide, wife of Hieron II of Syracuse. The famous view of Mount Etna and the sea beyond the theater is breathtaking. The conquering Arabs, who seemed intent on devastating the town slashed away at the theater in the 10th century, which is why it’s rather sparse and dusty ruin. On the premises is a display of artifacts from the classical and early Christian periods. Other gorgeous place to visit is the Duomo, it builts around 1400 on the ruins of a church from the Middle Ages, this fortress cathedral has a Latin-cross plan and a trio of aisles. The nave is held up by half a dozen monolithic columns in pink marble; a fish-scale decoration graces their capitals, in honor of the island’s maritime tradition.

Many visitors to Taormina come for the beach, although the sands aren’t exactly at the resort. To reach the best and most popular beach, Mazzarò, it is possible to take the cablecar that leaves from Via Pirandello every 15 minutes. In Mazzarò there are a lots of beach club and activities to do, as diving, snorkeling, rent a boat etc. To the right of Mazzarò, past the Capo Sant’Andrea headland, is the region’s prettiest cove, where twin crescents of beach sweep from a sand spit out to the minuscule Isola Bella islet. It is fun to paddle a boat from Mazzarò around Capo Sant’Andrea, which hides a few grottoes with excellent light effects on the seaward side.

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