When I was planning my Sicilian holiday, I decided my first stop was going to be in Taormina. Looking back that was a good decision as it set the mood for the rest of my trip. If you ask me, I would gladly recommend Taormina 365 days a year, where it is possible. For my 3-day stay, I tried to choose among the many holiday houses in Sicily, and got lucky.
Fortunately I found WishSicily which made it easy for me to find an apartment in Sicily. I found a place situated right in the main way, Corso Umberto, making it very convenient to get around. It was easy to walk back at the end of a sight-seeing day, and starting the day with breakfast at the rooftop terrace with a magnificent view of Mt. Etna was just perfect!
My experience in Taormina can’t be summed up in just a few words. It definitely was magical, and so much more! The was something enchanting in the air! After getting settled, I decided it was time to do some sight-seeing and the first stop in mind was the Teatro Greco Romano. With a map in hand, I set off for the place and while following the route, came upon Santa Caterina Church. It now partly stands on the ruins of the Roman Odeon which was built on the ruins of a Greek temple dedicated to Aphrodite.
The architecture is modest yet there was something inspiring about it. It is in the Baroque style which is common in Sicily. After taking some pictures, I decided to make the most of my time and made for the Roman Odeon as well. On a nondescript corner did I find a smaller version of the ancient Theatre which had the capacity to sit 200 people.It was used for small performances reserved only for a distinguished few.
I continued on my way and came upon Palazzo Corvaja which now houses the Museo Siciliano di Arte e Tradizioni Popolari (Museum of Art and Popular Traditions). There was no entrance fee to the ground floor but admission to the museum is 3 euro. To my delight, I saw a variety of 18th-century oil portraits, donkey carts, puppets, ceramics and other traditional artifacts from the island. You might want to know that the museum is open Tuesdays-Sundays from 9am to 1pm then 4pm to 8pm.
Checking my map, I saw that the ancient theater was just a stone’s throw away! I was excited to see the place as it is the most renowned attraction in Taormina. I bought a ticket for 8 euro and the view was phenomenal! I was taken aback by the sheer beauty of the site. Carved out of the rocky slope of Mt.Tauro, the theater provides you an endless view of the Mediterranean all the way to the majestic, Mt. Etna!
At present, the theatre is used for the annual Taormina film festival and in summer, artists from around the world perform in it. I was thrilling as I sat on the seats were others have done before me centuries ago as I watched the sun go down. What a spectacle! I wanted the moment to last but I knew it was time to head back and have dinner. On Corso Umberto, I feasted on the specialties offered by Ristorante La Buca, starting with Sicilian-style mussels then on to pasta con le Sarde, a glass or two of their wine and ended it up with a typical Sicilian dessert. Not bad for the first day.
For Day Two, I planned to see other attractions in the morning then perhaps head down to Giardini Naxos for a spree along the beach. After a hearty breakfast on the scenic rooftop terrace of my hotel, I went to Piazza IX Aprile where I took many photos of the breathtaking scenery around. From the square’s vantage point, I was able to enjoy a panoramic view of Mt. Etna, the bay below, and the ruins of the ancient theater. Passing through the Porta di Mezzo, I saw the famous Clock Tower which is the entrance into the medieval village and therefore, separates the Classical and Hellenistic parts of the city.
I continued on to the Villa Comunale which is considered one of the most beautiful parks in all of Sicily. The gardens were fashioned in the late 19th century by the Scottish Lady Florence Trevelyan who had varied amusements built in the garden. I had a tempting view of the bay below so I took a cab and asked to be dropped by the museum of the archaeological park where I had a fine time looking at archaeological artifacts found in the ancient town as well as from shipwrecks.
Before lunch, I dropped by the 18th century Church of Santa Maria Raccomandata where I saw the impressive 15th century painting of the “Madonna di Porto Salvo.” By then, my stomach was rumbling signaling lunch time. I enjoyed a sumptuous lunch in Ristorante Nettuno da Siciliano with its wonderful staff, great view and fabulous food! After which, the only think I could manage was to head to one of the beaches and lolled away the afternoon until the sun was ready to say ciao! And so was I.
The morning of day three was spent in Castelmola where I had the most spectacular 360-degree view of the surroundings, making the short climb well-worth the effort. I took the bus from Taormina and was deposited at the Piazza Sant’Antonio which was handsomely flagged in white lava stone. The view of Taormina and the Bay of Giardini Naxos below was utterly amazing!
Walking on narrow streets, I came upon the Duomo which dates back to the 16th century and proudly gives visitors a unique mix of Arabic, Roman and Norman architecture. After brief stops at Santuario Madonna della Rocca and the Church of Sant’ Antonio and the Caffe’ San Giorgio, I found my way to the Caffè Bar Turrisi that reviews said is a must-stop for a taste of the fabulous almond wine which the bar is famous for.
Later, I took the bus back to Taormina and another towards Isola Bella. It isn’t really an island since there is a narrow strip of sand connecting the rocky outcropping to the mainland. I was content to explore the area and swim in the warm waters.
Unfortunately, the stay in Taormina is never long enough and I couldn’t agree more with the quote by Goethe that “It is a patch of paradise”.
Have you been to Taormina? Share your tips with us in the comments below.
Author’s Bio: Hanna Johnson is a writer who lives in Italy. She loves travelling and meeting new people, and art, culture, food and travel are her passion.Photo credit: BrowsingItaly.com