With the scent of orange-blossom, sun, the magnificent sea and the dazzling colors of seasonal bloom, when a better time than spring to experience all of Taormina’s true beauty?
Taormina is located high up, towering over the Ionian sea, between the majestic Mount Etna and the sea. Such a fortunate position makes its splendor genuinely unique in the world. The perfect combination of art, culture, nature, excellent food and wine, it is surrounded by beaches and coves offering breath-taking panoramic views.
Taormina follows the form of an ancient, medieval city and so curls itself around a few main streets such as Corso Umberto I, which crosses it, and is bounded at each end by Porta Messina and Porta Catania. From Corso Umberto I, you can easily find your way to the most well-known cultural and historical sites, including charming town squares such as Piazza IX Aprile or Piazza Duomo, with its beautiful baroque fountain, as well as various churches such as San Giuseppe, Sant’Agostino, Santa Caterina d’Alessandra and San Nicolò – the city’s cathedral.
From an artistic point of view, Taormina really does have a lot to offer. The city’s main symbol is that of the Greek-Roman Theatre, known as Teatro Antico (Ancient Theatre), from which one has an incomparable view of Etna, Giardini Naxos and onto the Calabrian mountains, and the theatre is still used today for cultural events during the summer months.
The city also hosts a treasure trove of ancient palazzi (palaces), such as Palazzo Corvaia, which looks more like a proper castle, or Palazzo dei Duchi di Santo Stefano – an original construction nestled in ancient defensive walls near Porta Catania with a beautiful garden nearby. Another palazzo of note is Badia Vecchia (Ancient Abbey), also known as Badiazza, which is a crenellated tower of ancient Norman origins where you can still see decorative features from the 14th century. Right in the centre is Palazzo Ciampoli: one of the oldest buildings, dating back to 1400
When walking around the city, there is one remarkable corner, which is not to be missed: the Villa Comunale, dedicated to the Duke Colonna di Cesarò, which is located south of the Theatre. There you will also find a charming garden, which was created thanks to the donations of an Englishman, Florence Trevelyan. The plants are unusual as they are diverse and exotic including those from tropical countries.
Following Corso Umberto, lost among these numerous artistic splendors as you admire the breath-taking view of Mount Etna and the sea below, you will be surprised by the array of multi-colored shops. You can sense the aromas, which are typically Mediterranean, and the flavors of the local cuisine. There are countless places where you can try Sicilian specialities: you will be spoilt for choice. For a quick stop during your visit to the city, we recommend dropping by Arco-about pizza – a short walk from Porta Catania. It is a small place, which won’t disappoint with its sensational, typical arancini (rice balls), you will undoubtedly be coming back for seconds and even thirds.
Having visited the center, you can go down to the various bays, like Mazzarò Bay where there is sea caves, at the foot of Taormina. There you will also find Isola Bella (‘beautiful island’) and Giardini Naxos (Naxos Gardens). In Giardini Naxos, you can enjoy a walk along the beach or even a quick dip if the weather permits. After your walk, you can relax by stopping for a drink and admiring the splendid seascape. A stop at Chiosco Bar Capo Schisò on Via Lungomare Schisò is a must. It is located towards the southern end of the bay, right on the beach, and offers great drinks as well as music and evening entertainment. People come here to enjoy a fine Sicilian granita. It is never too icy and the graininess is perfect with just the right amount of sugar. The coffee-flavored granita truly is an undeniable pleasure in its simplicity, or you can enrich it with whipped cream and accompanied by a classic Sicilian brioche. The locals enjoy it for breakfast but you can also choose to have it as an afternoon snack.
For dinner we recommend Il Ristorante Sabbie d’Oro, Via Schisò 14, also along the beach and not far from Chiosco. It offers traditional Sicilian fish dishes with a modern twist. The fish is extremely fresh and there is a wide choice on offer with a variety of mollusks and shellfish to choose from. There is also an excellent selection of wines.
Wine tour and tasting with view of the volcano
After having admired it against the backdrop of a panoramic view of the city, we couldn’t miss out a visit to the volcano from our program; including a pit stop at local wine cellars in order to appreciate the vineyards that are cultivated in the unusual landscape and to sample the best wines of the area.
The Nicosia wine cellars offer tours and wine tasting especially for aficionados of Sicilian wines and high-class foods. With Terra & Sorsi, in Trecastagni, a wine itinerary exploring the wines of Mount Etna is made available and the cellar is open all year round. The wine cellar also offers the possibility to book tours and tastings with typical Sicilian specialties, cheese, traditional cold cuts and local dishes such as scacce (a type of stuffed bread).
The view of the Nicosia wine cellars and their grounds is truly worth a visit. At the base of one of the extinct craters, which are 700 metres high, are the vineyards of Monte Gorna with typical terraces made out of lava rock, where indigenous grape varieties are grown for DOC Etna wines such Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccino (red wines), and Catarratto and Carricante (white wines). These varieties of grape thrive in a special climate that has fluctuations in temperature and other aspects that are typical of the area. They give the wine a certain body, elegance and freshness, which are truly unique.
For visits and tastings:
Via Luigi Capuana, 65 – Trecastagni (CT)
Tel. 095 7806767 – Fax 095 7808837
From the airport of Catania Fontanarossa, from Palermo, from Siracusa: Catania’s ring road, exit Etna countries.
From Messina and Taormina: A18 Catania-Messina, Acireale exit; then follow the signs to Mount Etna and Trecastagni (about 8 km from the motorway exits).