Known as the Pearl of Sicily, Taormina is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Italy. Its success came in the twentieth century when it became a favorite destination for artists and intellectuals from all over the world.
Even today, the breathtaking views, the priceless cultural assets and the paradisiacal beaches of Taormina are inevitable must-sees on a vacation in Sicily.
Useful Information for your stay in Taormina
How to reach Taormina
To visit Taormina by car is not recommended, especially in summer because the city is very popular and almost entirely closed to traffic.
There are several parking areas including the Parcheggio Lumbi which is open 24 hours a day.
The Municipal Bus Company (ASM) is also an option to get around the urban area.
Schedules and fares of buses and parking lots are available HERE.
The cable car connecting the city center to the sea (Mazzaro), operates from 8 am to 1 am.
For information and times: Visit the website
Rates single fare € 3.00 - € 10.00 Daily - Weekly € 30.00
Taormina has its roots in the Hellenistic period when in the eighth century BCE the Siculi who lived in the plains below Mount Tauro were forced to escape on top of the mountain and found Tauromenion due to Greek advancement on Sicily’s eastern coast.
The history of Taormina is similar to that of the rest of Sicily, until the unification of Italy and the twentieth century, a period in which Taormina experienced steady growth and became a favorite destination for artists from far and wide.
Art and Monuments
Due to its rich history Taormina boasts numerous monuments that can be visited today. In terms of religious architecture the main churches to see are the St. Nicholas Basilica-Cathedral, the Church of St. Catherine and the Church of San Pancrazio.
The historical monuments not to be missed are the Greek Theatre, the Old Abbey (Badia Vecchia) home of the Archaeological Museum, Castello Saraceno, the Odeon and the Naumachie.
Of great historical and cultural interest are the Ciampoli palace and Corvaja palace which houses the museum of arts and popular traditions, as well as the palace of the Jurors and the Palace of the Dukes of Santo Stefano, home of the Mazzullo Foundation.
Absolute must-sees are also the Regional Archaeological Museum and the archaeological area of Naxos.
Churches of Taormina
St. Nicholas Basilica-Cathedral
The first "fortress church" structure, as it is called, dates back to the thirteenth century. The church has seen many changes throughout its history. The portal of the main facade, in Mannerist style, dates back to 1633 with its lobed rose window dating back to the XVI century. Inside the cathedral are the paintings by Antonino Giuffre and Antonello da Saliba dating from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. On the right of the main altar chapel is a sculpture of Gagini dating to the first half of the sixteenth century, depicting the Madonna and Child, on the left, a tabernacle dated 1648.
Church of Saint Catherine
Built in the seventeenth century on the ruins of Odeon from the Augustan period of which some traces are still visible behind the apses. Inside, there are also the remains of a Hellenistic temple under the church floor.
Church of Saint Pancrazio
The late seventeenth century church was built on the ruins of a Greek temple dedicated to Jupiter Serapis of which there are still stones stacked along the perimeter of the central nave. Inside there are also several paintings and frescoes dating to the eighteenth century.
Historical Monuments of Taormina
The second largest theater of its kind in Sicily after that of Syracuse, it was built in the Hellenistic period (third century BCE) on a scenic spot of great beauty from which one can admire both Mount Etna and the breathtaking Ionian Sea coast. Its current appearance however, is totally Roman in style probably due to the various reconstructions and modifications that it has undergone, particularly due to the expansion and adaptation necessary for the gladiator shows which transformed it into a real amphitheater. The fame of this monument grew exponentially during the era of the Grand Tour, when its decadence and scenic location provided the romantic atmosphere much sought after by the artists of the time. From the nineteen-fifties on, the theater has been used for various theatrical and musical representations and events; since 1983 it is home to the Taormina Art and Taormina Film Fest.
Badia Vecchia (Old Abbey)
Today the fourteenth-century Gothic-style building houses the Archaeological Museum. The museum displays objects from both the Hellenistic period (fourth century BCE) and the Roman domination. There are also some interesting artifacts from the excavations carried out between 1984 and 1998, also kept in the museum are examples of protomaiolica dating to the thirteenth century and the Renaissance majolica.
Castello Saraceno (Saracen Castle)
The exact date of construction of this castle which stands on Mount Tauro is unknown, though it is supposed to have been built by the Arabs. The building occupies the site of the ancient acropolis.
Dating back to time of the Roman-Empire, the building was unearthed in 1893. It was intended for musical and literary representations, the scene was made up on one side of the Doric temple from the Hellenistic period of which a column is still visible inside the Church of St. Catherine.
This monumental wall face of the imperial Roman era is 122 meters long and 5 meters high. The name which derives from the Greek means "naval combat"; it is thought to have been a water circus, this thesis however, has been excluded and it is now thought to have acted as a support for terracing and a large tank of water intended to supply of the city.
Beaches and Surrounding Areas
The most beautiful beaches close to Taormina are:
• Baia delle Sirene
• Fondaco Parrino e Capo S. Alessio
• Giardini Naxos
Taormina is also within close proximity to many other places of cultural and natural interest like Castelmola, Giardini Naxos, Sant'Alessio Siculo, the Alcantara Valley, the Valle d'Agro, and the towns of Aci Castello, Aci Trezza and Acireale.
Food and wine
Like many other places in Sicily, Taormina is full of typical, genuine products and quality wines. Among the most characteristic of the area we find wine specialties made with almonds, produced near Castelmola, various sweets such as the candied or chocolate covered peels of citrus fruits, or savory dishes such as pasta with swordfish.