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On the eastern side of the island of Sicily and with Mt. Etna in sight is the magnificent city of Taormina. Known for its ancient Greek theater, famous opera festival and concerts, and stunning coastline views. Let’s find out what to see in Taormina!
Let’s begin with its most famous landmark: the Greek theater. This is the second-largest theater in Sicily after that of Syracuse. Originally constructed by the Greeks in the 3rd century BC, it is a testament to the culture’s architectural abilities. When the Romans gained control of the entire island, it is presumed that they rebuilt the theater in the 2nd century BC. Imagine watching a gladiator fight with this backdrop!
Villa Comunale Gardens
Lady Florence Trevelyan was an English nobleman who married the mayor of Taormina in the 1800s. She wanted traditional English gardens for her residence and visitors are still enjoying them today. Rare plant species thrive here and the buildings which she designed for birdwatching are truly unique. The view of the coast and Etna is amazing too!
This palace was built upon an ancient Roman forum. Initially, it was the Arabs that constructed a tower here around the year 1,000 AD, and eventually, between the 13th and 15th centuries, it was completed. It reflects Arab, Spanish, and Norman influences. Today, it houses a museum of Sicilian art and traditions.
This Roman structure is a must-see as you’re touring around the city. Probably built by the Romans in the 2nd century BC upon an existing Greek structure, it now houses the 17th-century church of St. Catherine’s.
This is the most important street in all of Taormina. It was part of Via Valeria which connected Messina and Catania. In fact, to the north, you’ll find the ancient gate or porta of Messina and to the south, that of Catania. The entire historic center has been built around Corso Umberto and you can imagine what it must have been like to walk this road over 2,000 years ago. Much like it probably was back then, today, visitors can find all kinds of local products, bars, cafes, restaurants, and souvenirs without having to worry about car traffic.
Piazza IX Aprile
Along the corso, you’ll run into the most famous piazza in all of Taormina. Piazza IX Aprile is a stunning square full of delightful shops and cafes and the famous landmark, the clock tower. The tower was part of the original walls and gate (Porta di Mezzo) of the city and was constructed in the 12th century (although rebuilt numerous times). You’ll also find the church of St. Augustine which is now a library and the church of San Giuseppe.
Piazza Duomo is a lovely square with the city’s main cathedral, a beautiful fountain, and the Palazzo Comunale. The Duomo is dedicated to St. Nicholas of Bari and was built around the year 1400. The fountain dates to 1635 and with Taormina’s famous symbol in its center, the minotaur.
Isola Bella is an island nature reserve that is only 1 km wide. The best part is that you can actually walk to it! It’s connected to the Taormina coast by a narrow strip of sand. This is one of the most beautiful spots in all of Sicily so don’t miss it!