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Taormina is the jewel in Sicily’s crown – a breathtaking medieval settlement that cascades down the mountainside, high above the sea. The town has an unfair share of the island’s historic monuments, including a breathtaking amphitheatre with a backdrop to die for and a dramatic 13th-century cathedral – but there’s also a lively ambience with shops, dining and more in abundance.
Many visitors congregate around the atmospheric street of Corso Umberto, which is full of pretty medieval houses now converted into upmarket boutiques, authentic trattorie and souvenir shops. Close by is the town’s Ancient Theatre of Taormina – an enormous 3rd-century BC arena with mesmerising views of the coast. Actively used today for shows and events, this is arguable one of the most magnificent stages found across the globe. With the sea so close by, it would be a shame not to spend some time at the beach – you’ll find several in easy reach. Most popular is the Isola Bella beach, a small strip of shingle leading to a picturesque island, known affectionately as the ‘Pearl of the Ionian Sea’.
Most of Taormina’s top sights are paired with wall-to-wall sea and city views. Wander the peaceful palm gardens of the Villa Comunale, see a Greek tragedy at the crumbling Ancient Theatre of Taormina, or look down on the square from the baroque church of San Giuseppe.
If you don’t mind a climb, you could scale the staircase to Madonna della Rocca – a tiny church chipped out of the limestone hill. Alternatively, follow the same staircase as it tumbles down through Taormina to the coast. Here, causeway islands and grottos separate crescent-moon beaches. Run out of steam? The cable car follows a similar route.
Meanwhile, nearby Mount Etna is a serious siren call to hikers. Footpaths from Taormina head up – and up – into the foothills of the largest active volcano in Europe.
The closest airport to Taormina is Catania (CTA), which is about 1 hour from Taormina and Taormina Mare. Direct flights to Catania are available from Birmingham, London Gatwick, London Luton and Manchester and take approxmimately 3 hours.
Taormina is big on food, with well over a hundred restaurants, and many of these authentic trattorie where you can enjoy deliciously fresh cuisine. Unlike many of the other nearby resorts, Taormina also boasts a handful of fine dining options for those special occasions, serving fine wines from the island itself. There are lots of romantic options, too, and it’s always easy to finish a meal with some fresh gelato from one of the many gelaterie nearby.
If you would like to pre-book one of our excursions, please call our Italy Experts on 01293 762410*.