What could be more dramatic or memorable than visiting a town carved into the side of a still-active volcano? Taormina, an up-and-coming popular Sicilian holiday destination, was founded in the 4th century BC at the foot of the volatile Mount Etna – a volcano that actually erupted twice in March of this year.
Of course, Taormina has only become a popular tourist resort in the past few years; however, this scenic town has been popular with celebrities and even royalty for centuries. Notable visitors have included Elizabeth Taylor, Oscar Wilde, D.H. Lawrence and Greta Garbo who all fell for this town’s stunning architecture steeped in both Roman and Greek history. Indeed, Taormina is home to the second largest Greek theatre in Sicily.
Not the cheapest destination, but the price tag is certainly worth a visit even if it’s just for a few days. Expect large crowds in July and August so try to plan your visit for April, May, September or October. The town shuts down in winter so avoid these months.
Taormina has a good range of accommodation to suit most budgets. For luxury, San Domenico Palace is a beautiful hotel right on the beach. Their summer package includes access to their private beach club, a delicious buffet breakfast, and a welcome flute on arrival. If you’re travelling as a family, the Sirius Hotel is a very popular choice and is close to attractions such as the Palazzo Corvaia. Or, if you prefer to live like a local, holiday rentals are similarly a popular choice, with both traditional homes and modern villas available to rent in the area.
Where To Eat
When you think of Italy, gelato instantly comes to mind – especially on a scorching day! Sicily’s answer to gelato is granita, a cooling dessert of thin ice flakes, sugar and crushed fresh fruit or flavouring. Popular flavours include strawberry, coffee and lemon, and you can purchase granita in just about every café in the town, however, Bam Bar serves some of the best!
For luxury food, La Capinera is a Michelin star restaurant led by local-born chef, Pietro D’Agostino and is regarded as one of Italy’s finest restaurants. The menu includes lots of local dishes including seafood, fish and wild duck.
If you adore Sicily for the local wines, then a visit to Osteria RossoDiVino should definitely be on your itinerary. The wine list has over 100 carefully chosen local wines as well as a local menu that changes daily depending on what’s in season.
Europe’s Largest Volcano
You simply cannot visit a town at the foot of an active volcano and not visit the volcano itself. Mount Etna is 3,329m high, making it the largest volcano in Europe. It’s also one of the world’s most active volcanoes! Various tours of Mount Etna are available including hiking, jeep, and mountain biking.
It just wouldn’t be a trip to Sicily without visiting the beach – Taormina’s beaches are some of the finest, if a little difficult to get to. By foot, you’ll need to descend the steep steps near Guardiola Vecchia, however this is not advisable with children. Far easier is to travel down by cable car, a 10-minute trip where you can relax and enjoy the views. The nearest beach is Isola Bella, however, this is a rather small beach so unless you arrive early you’ll find it difficult to find a spot. Instead, take a bus to the nearby Mazzaro Letojanni, which is far larger and has gorgeous golden sand as well as sun beds available.
Ancient Greek Theatre
Taormina itself is steeped in culture with plenty of ancient ruins and exceptional architecture. One such building is the Teatro Antico, which is an Ancient Greek theatre built in 3rd Century BC on steep Sicilian cliffs. When the Romans took over the town, the theatre was changed to allow for gladiator battles as well as games. These days you can expect to see regular film screenings, operas and the occasional rock concert.