Taormina has been called the pearl of Sicily, incomparable for its total combination of physical beauty, history, and climate.
These Taormina t-shirts and hoodies are based on sketches and photographs made during a trip to the town. They are as unique as the place that inspired them. Printed on high quality apparel for men and women, including organic styles in several colors.
Shop for beautifully designed Taormina gifts and merchandise such as these mugs and beach totes.
Taormina Framed Prints
An exciting collection of photographic framed prints, perfect for introducing a bit of international flair to your home or office. All prints are custom manufactured using archival inks and acid-free paper. Framed prints are matted and framed in a stylish black frame that includes complete backing. Frame size: 19" x 15". Select for more details.
Large Framed Print
Large Framed Print
Large Framed Print
Legendary Taormina is a must see for anyone visiting Sicily...
an historic town complete with ancient ruins, a spectacular setting, and incredible food."
After spending three days in Palermo, the capital of Sicily, it was time for me to see something else on the island. With a total of only five days in Sicily, there was no chance for me to see many of the towns I originally intended on visiting, such as Noto, Siracusa, and Cefalu. Instead, I had time for only one more destination, and for me it had to be Taormina.
For years I had read that Taormina is a fantastic resort town of particular beauty, drawing visitors from many parts of the world. The physical loveliness of the place is overwhelming, and that must be what the Greeks thought when they first arrived on the Sicilian coast in 832 BC and founded the colony of Naxos. The settlement of Tauromenion was established shortly afterwards and became quite prosperous.
Tauromenion eventually became Taormina, it's history spanning miillenia as wave after wave of conquerors laid claim to Sicily and assumed control over the town. Greeks, Romans, Muslims, Normans, Spanish, and French each controlled Taormina for a time, and reminders of each era can be found here.
During the 19th century Taormina became a fashionable tourist destination with a long list of famous people spending time there, including Goethe, Nietzsche, Richard Wagner, Nicholas I of Russia, and many others. The subtropical climate, sparkling sea, tree covered cliffs, and charming architecture combine to create a very romantic setting. Some people came and never wanted to leave; the photographer Wilhelm Von Gloeden came to Taormina and then sent much of his life there, becoming famous for the photos he shot using local subjects, many of them male nudes.
By the early 20th century the town was flush with writers, artists, and intellectuals such as D.H. Lawrence and Truman Capote, and it gained the reputation of being quite a licentious place. Today Taormina has settled into a more tame existence as an upscale resort town, offering posh accommodations overlooking the sea and excellent shopping and dining along its cobblestone streets.
Couples arrive from all over the world to be married or spend their honeymoons here. Whole families come too, in fact lots of them during the summer months. Piazza Aprile IX, the town's main square, seems always alive with children running back and forth, people strolling, and cafés crowded with diners.
I wouldn't characterize this as a party town, though. Things seemed to mostly close down by midnight, except for a few bars and nightclubs. Taormina is more of a relaxed experience... a place to be enjoyed with loved ones, or perhaps with the meditative pleasure of a camera, sketchbook, or other means of creative expression. The beauty of Taormina can bring out the poet in anyone.
So, aside from writing the next great novel or love song, what is there to do or see in Taormina?
Here's a rundown of some of the main attractions...
Corso Umberto I is the main thoroughfare of Taormina. It's like the spine of the town, and meanders for about a kilometer from Piazza Sant’ Antonio to Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II. It's pedestrian only, is lined with shops and restaurants, and is the street you will inevitably stroll many times during your stay. It passes right through Piazza Aprile IX, the main square mentioned above, and most of Taorina's monuments and attractions can be reached from here by foot.
Piazza Aprile IX is really something special as far as town squares go, because it's like a giant terrace that overlooks the wide Bay of Naxos far below. You can stand at the edge of the piazza, lean against the railing, and look upon a panorama that seems to stretch forever. To the west Mt Etna smolders peacefully (for now), gradually sloping down to the azure Ionian Sea.
Piazza Duomo with its Baroque fountain built in 1635 is hard to miss as you walk along Corso Umberto. Mythological figures decorate the various basins of the elaborate fountain. Grandiose old sculpture aside, I'm making special mention of this square because there's a really good pizzeria located on the left hand side of it, past the fountain; a small carry-out shop with damn good slices. You can walk your pizza right over to the marble steps of the fountain and eat it while taking in the scene. This may be the cheapest good meal in Taormina...restaurants and hotels here are pricier than what you'll encounter in other Sicilian towns.
The Public Gardens
Many visitors miss them, but the Public Gardens of Taormina contain an incredibly maintained, wide assortment of tropical and subtropical plants. The variety is amazing, as well as the style of planting, which is naturalistic instead of being overly arranged in a formal geometry. Romantic stone structures accentuate the plantings, giving an atmosphere of antiquity.
The Ancient Greek Theater
One of Taormina's well known attractions, the Ancient Theater provides one of the most panoramic views I have ever seen...anywhere! When the Greeks built this theater thousands of years ago, they must have chosen the location for this reason. The theater is not just a lump of photogenic ruins either- during the summer there are nightly shows featuring classical and pop music, opera, fashion shows, and more. It's amazing to think that this venue is still a performance space after thousands of years. Wow.
Obviously an excursion to Mount Etna is high on the list when visiting the Taormina area. It's Europe's largest active volcano (11,000 feet tall) and it's close- only about a 45 minute drive from town. The volcano can be experienced in several ways, including wine tastings (the volcanic soil is great for growing grapes), hiking, a cable car ride, or in a 4WD jeep. Guided excursions are easy to arrange and will take you to interesting sites at the summit where volcanic activity continues.
Isola Bella is a tiny island situated below Taormina, and during low tide you can walk on a narrow strip of sand to reach it from the beach. It was once a private villa, but now contains a museum and nature preserve. It's an extremely photogenic spot and worth a visit, but the adjacent beach is small and can be crowded during the high season.
Grutta Azzura is one of the beautiful caverns that dot the coast below Taormina. The water takes on an electric blue color as sunlight filters down. You can reach it by one of many boat excursions that depart from the beaches.
Since Taormina is positioned high on the cliffs above the sea, it's amazing that there is actually another town even higher, on a mountain that looks down upon Taormina! It's called Castelmola and it's about an hour's hike from Taormina (or you can take a bus). The views up here are breathtaking from 2000 feet above the sea, with the whole town and Sicilian coast spreading below you. The ruins of a 16th century Saracen castle are up there too, which served as a lookout point to guard against attacks from the Italian mainland.
Where to stay: Trying to find the right place to stay in Taormina using the internet was frustrating at first. My search had to meet several criteria. I wanted the hotel to be positioned at the edge of the sea with a balcony view of the water, close to Corso Umberto, and not cost an arm and a leg. My search led me to settle on Hotel Villa Schuler, run by a German family for generations, hence the name. I was pleased with my choice from the moment I arrived. The lobby was bright and spacious, the room was clean and comfortable with a balcony facing the Ionian Sea, and the hotel is located steps from Corso Umberto.
Breakfast is included with your room, and becomes a most memorable experience. Eggs cooked to order, a basket of fresh pastries and breads, fresh fruit, and of course some amazing Italian coffee served on a garden terrace that overlooks the sea, with the volcano in plain view. The property is landscaped with towering date palms, flowering plumeria, and other exotic plants. As the morning sun bounces off the sea far below, and birds sing in the garden all around, breakfast takes on a whole new meaning.
The rates are not too expensive compared with other establishments. I enthusiastically recommend Villa Schuler based on personal experience, although there are many other luxurious accommodations available in Taormina as well. I've posted some hotel websites in the links section at the bottom of the page.
Taormina in Video and Film
Below are some quality videos from youtube that show elements of Taormina. Get a feel for the place without searching through loads of the lesser quality videos that crowd youtube. The fourth clip is Tracy Chapman singing live at the Ancient Theater, where concerts are often performed during the summer.
The following movies contain scenes that were filmed in Taormina (DVD orders are fulfilled separately by Amazon):
The Big Blue ( Le grand bleu ) is a movie about two divers who grew up together in a Sicilian town. Rivals as children, they go on to compete in the world free-diving championships being held in Taormina.
In the 1974 film The Godfather, Part II the village of Vito Andolini's youth is supposed to be Corleone but the scenes were really filmed in the area of Taormina.
The movie Mighty Aphroditedoes not actiually take place in Taormina, but the scenes showing a Greek chorus were filmed in Taormina among the ruins of the Greek Theater. The chorus appears throughout the movie, much as it would during the performance of an ancient drama.
Overlooking the Bay of Naxos
Piazza Aprile IX