Taormina’s fame is well deserved for its spectacular location between Mount Etna and the Ionian Sea. Taormina has Greek origins, a glorious past as a Roman colony and a charming medieval old town to be explored with appropriate slowness not to miss even one of its seventeenth-century palaces and churches with Gothic echoes. Then return to the present and go shopping along Corso Umberto I.
WELCOME TO PEARL OF THE IONIAN SEA
BAIA DI MAZZARÒ TAORMINA
Mazzarò is an ancient fishing village located along the coast that connects Messina to Catania, just 1.48 km from the center of Taormina, bordering Isola Bella, the nature reserve that attracts thousands of tourists every year.
From Mazzarò and Isola Bella you can visit, by boat, the caves of Capo Sant’Andrea and the rock of Zio Gennaro. The waters of the coast are rich in octopuses, morays and even coral formations.
The cableway that connects Mazzarò with the city of Taormina in less than three minutes makes it a favorite destination to experience the coast without renouncing to discover the treasures of the famous town.
A stretch of the ancient Via Valeria, which connected Catania to Messina, is now the main street of the city of Taormina, where you can go shopping and observe buildings of various architectural styles.
Corso Umberto I, which can be reached from the north by the arch of Porta Messina and from the south by the arch of Porta Catania, boasts palaces of Arab, Norman, Greek and Roman design. The Greek-Roman quarter is separated from the more recent medieval buildings by the Torre dell’Orologio (Clock Tower), or Torre di Mezzo (Middle Tower); the bells of the Tower are ringed on the day of the election of the mayor and during the procession on the day of the Patron Saint, San Pancrazio, on July 9th.
Walking along Corso Umberto I is like shopping in a museum: here are located the artisan shops and local gastronomy stores, but also the boutiques of major fashion brands.
It is worth walking to Piazza IX Aprile to enjoy one of the most famous viewpoints of the city from which it is possible to admire the Theatre and Mount Etna.
A true emblem of the city, the Greek Theatre of Taormina, dug into the rock, has been drawing its profile since the third century BC. In the middle and late Roman Empire the building was adapted to house the venationes and the orchestra became an arena. In the Middle Ages, part of the theatre was converted into a private residence and in the 18th century, when it returned to decay, it was one of the sites of the Grand Tour. The theatre activity was revived in the Fifties of the Twentieth Century and nowadays the Greek theatre hosts concerts, prestigious awards and even film sets.
In 1787 Goethe visited the theatre and was enchanted by the beautiful view from the cavea:
If One Now Sits Down Where Once The Uppermost Ranks Of The Audience Sat, One Has To Admit That Probably No Other Audience In A Theatre Ever Had Such A Vista. On Tall Rocks To The Right Rise Fortifications, Further Down Lies The City, And Although Both Are Of More Recent Date, Similar Things Will Have Stood In Those Spots In Antiquity. The View Follows The Long Mountainous Flank Of Mount Etna, On The Left Lies The Seashore, Visible All The Way To Catania, Even Syracuse; And Then The Broad And Panoramic Picture Is Completed By The Enormous Smoking Fire-Mountain, It Is, However, Not A Frightful Sight, As The Softening Atmosphere Makes It Look More Distant And Milder Than It Really Is.