If you ask an Italian where to go in Sicily one of the places you will hear will, certainly, be Taormina. This small seaside town on the east is often called a “Sicilian Monte Carlo”: here you have the snow-capped Mount Etna, turquoise sea and ancient ruins of a Greek theatre. It is, undoubtedly, a serious contender for the most picturesque location in Italy, along with Amalfi Coast. For centuries Taormina has attracted many illustrious men, such as Goethe, Oscar Wilde, D.H Lawrence.
It is impossible not to fall in love with the town’s medieval streets, shabby palazzi and lovely small squares. Just below Taormina is Isola Bella, a nature reserve with a small beach, that is very popular with local and visiting sunbathers. The island is connected to the town by a narrow strip that is submerged when the tide comes in.
The Greek Theatre sits at the end of Via Teatro Greco. Constructed in the 3rd century BC, it is the second largest in Sicily, after the theatre in Syracuse. From here you can see the Sicilian coast, southern Calabria and Mount Etna looming on the horizon. Make sure you get to Teatro Greco early in the morning, before the crowds descend on it.
For thrill-seekers, a trip to Mount Etna, one of the most active volcanoes in the world, is highly recommended. A hike in the Alcantara Gorge is a great option for those seeking to avoid crowds and summer heat.
When the sun goes down it is a passegiata time! Stroll down Corso Umberto to listen to live music, shop and have a coffee. At the end of Corso Umberto you will find the pretty Piazza del Duomo with the 13th century Cathedral and a Baroque fountain. Another beautiful square that is worth a look is Piazza IX Aprile. The famous Wunderbar Café on the piazza has been a watering hole for many celebrities since the 60s: Greta Garbo, Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor and Tennessee Williams have all sipped extravagantly expensive cocktails here. Sit on the terrace and enjoy the stunning sea views and the dolce vita.
Photos by: Cinzia A. Rizzo, George C Slade, David Evers