Known in international tourist circles as the “Perla dello Jonio” (“Pearl of the Ionian Sea”), Taormina is one of the favourite destinations for those who wish to get-to-know Sicily not only from the historic, cultural and landscape point of view, but also the artistic and environmental one. Taormina is a town that has sea and mountains; it is a town that satisfies every kind of need, a ‘jewel’ set in countryside of incomparable beauty, always having been known all over the world for its fascination, the liveliness of its high life, its wealth of monuments and for its enchanting surroundings. An aristocratic town situated at 250 metres above sea level, overlooking a crystal-clear, cobalt-blue sea, with Etna in the background and promising unforgettable emotions. Little alleyways, picturesque courtyards, artistic arches and steps in every corner. Strolling slowly and aimlessly around the town is the best way to visit it.
To discover and get to know its most priceless treasures, we propose the following itinerary. There are many monuments, churches and squares to visit and experience. Enter the historical centre of Taormina through Porta Catania, which delimits the southern part of the ancient hamlet. Next to the Porta, in Via De Spuches, there is the mass standing out of the ‘Palazzo dei Duchi Di Santo Stefano’ (Palace of the Dukes of Santo Stefano), princes of Galati. Today, the Palace is the headquarters of the Mazzullo Foundation, exhibiting sculptures by the sculptor Giuseppe Mazzullo and also archaeological artefacts. Continuing along, is the ex-San Domenico Monastery. From San Domenico square, following the panoramic Via Roma, you reach the Villa Comunale (Public Gardens), full of special plants and flowers. Again, from San Domenico Square, there is a series of steps which take you to Piazza Duomo (Cathedral Square) with the Cathedral dedicated to San Nicolò, built in the second half of the 15th century. In the square there is also the Fontana del Tauro (Bull Fountain) whilst on the opposite side of the square, there is the Palazzo Municipale (Municipal Building), dating back to the middle of the 17th century and a building on the other side of the square known as ‘Casa Floresta’.
It is from this square that a few steps connect Hotel Villa Gaia and Badia Vecchia to Corso Umberto. Continuing along Corso Umberto, there is Palazzo Ciampoli, Casa Geleng, the ‘Chiesa del Varo o della Visitazione’ (Church of the Varo or Visitation) from the second half of the 17th century, the Torre dell’Orologio (Clock Tower), built in the 12th century and opening on to Piazza IX Aprile where there is a magnificent panorama to be enjoyed with views of Etna. In the square is the ex-Sant’Agostino Church, today the headquarters of the Municipal Library. In the same square and at the top of a series of steps, there is the magnificent Chiesa di San Giuseppe (Church of San Giuseppe). Continuing along the Corso you find the ‘Naumachie’ - evidence of the Roman period in Sicily. At the end of the Corso there is Palazzo Corvaja which is today the headquarters of the Museum of Art and Sicilian folklore; further on there is the Odeon. Opposite Palazzo Corvaja there is the Via Teatro Greco going slightly uphill to the Greek-Roman Theatre – the largest Ancient Theatre in Sicily after that of Syracuse. Next to the Theatre, you can visit the small Antiquarium which houses artefacts of different origins.
Continuing along Corso Umberto, you reach Porta Messina (the Messina Gateway) – the other entrance to the town – and from here you can get to the Chiesa di San Pancrazio (San Pancrazio Church). Going downhill to the right of the ‘Porta’ and along Via Pirandello, you reach Belvedere, a panoramic little square, while a little further along the road you meet the ‘Colombario’ necropolis. Going upwards from Porta Messina towards Castelmola, you reach the Madonna Della Rocca Sanctuary and the remains of a Medieval Castle built on the top of Mount Tauro. After the town tour, a visit to the bathing area of Taormina - which has the most beautiful and famous beaches in Sicily – is a must. In fact, it takes just a few minutes on foot from Villa Gaia to reach a handy cable car which takes you to the sea at Mazzarò Bay. To the right of this bay, you can go to Isola Bella Bay (a marine reserve today) while to the right you can visit Sirene Bay and Spisone Bay – with crystal-clear azure sea characterizing this shoreline.