Discovering Taormina’s hidden treasures

Greek ruins in Taormina ... photo by CC user Evan Erickson on flickr

Taormina is a gorgeous, romantic, enchanting town on the east coast of Sicily. It is about halfway between Catania and Messina, nestled on a hill about 250 meters above the Ionian Sea. The scenic views are quite incredible, giving you a view of mountains, beaches, sea and the ancient town itself. Because of its sheer beauty, it gets quite busy (especially during the peak tourist summer months).

That said, I recommend checking out the apartments you can rent around Taormina, as this will give you more of a local, genuine experience than staying in a classic hotel. Also, stay a few days and explore the surrounding area. Taormina sits in the shadow of Europe’s largest and most active volcano: Mount Etna. The whole area is vast with sites to see and places to explore! Here is just a bit of what Taormina has to offer.

Greek Theater

The “Teatro Greco” is a must-see on any visit to Taormina. It is the most visited and photographed site in all of Sicily, and there is good reason for that! It is perched on a hill above the sea, with a stunning view of Mt. Etna in the distance. The theater itself is built of brick, which suggests Roman origins. However, the layout of the theater seems more Greek. Regardless of its origins, it is a spectacular architectural feat that should not be missed.

Castelmola

Looking for something to get away from the flocks of other tourists? Head up to Castelmola, another small town above Taormina. Here you will enjoy spectacular views of the bay and taste the special almond wine. The wine is sweet and they also make special desserts with it. You can get there on feet, but in the summer months I recommend taking the bus for just 3 euros.

Isola Bella
You can see this tiny little island in the bay just off the coast of Taormina. It is definitely worth a trip down! The island is actually connected to the mainland by a little path that is sometimes underwater, depending on the tide. It was actually privately owned until 1990 when the owners declared bancruptcy and auctioned Isola Bella off. The Region of Sicily was the highest bidder, and have since used it as a nature reserve.

It is home to many species of lizards and birds. There is also a small beach that is very popular with sun bathers. The larger beach is located on the mainland. To get there, take the cable car from Taormina. From there, it is just a short walk to Isola Bella. However, it is not a sandy beach so bring appropriate shoes!

Alcantara Gorge

The gorge is just a 40 minute bus ride, but dedicate at least half, if not a whole, day to visiting it. It is on the north side of Mount Etna and was formed from a lava flow thousands of years ago. The lava was cooled quickly by the flow of the Alcantara river, which resulted in huge columns of lava. Over time, the river eroded a new channel through the lava. What is left today is called the Alcantara Gorge, and I definitely recommend a visit.

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One Response to Discovering Taormina’s hidden treasures

  1. Oh wow! That is such a beautiful photo! I just love ruins!

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