Taormina

With its unique panorama, its singular attractions and beautiful spots Taormina is one of the most popular tourist destinations for people from all over the world.

It lays on a hill 206 metres above sea level, among a luxuriant vegetation and against a moving scenario. Today it has about 11.000 inhabitants.

History
It was probably first inhabited by the Siculians, who settled in the area dedicating themselves to farming and breeding, as witnessed by the Sicilian historian Diodoro Siculo. In 832 B.C. Greek colonists founded Naxos in Taormina bay, close to the Alcantara river mouth, the first town of Magna Grecia, but only in the IV century B.C part of them moved to the close hill, to defend themselves against the Phoenicians and the Greek colonies hostile to Syracuse, which ensured its protection to Tauromenion inhabitants.

Taormina

When the Romans finally conquered the whole of Sicily in 212 B.C., Tauromenion's inhabitants allied with them. After the fall of Western Roman Empire, Taormina was occupied by Goths and later by Byzantines. Then Arabs and Normans followed, and after them Swabians, Aragonese and Bourbons, as it happened for the rest of Sicily.

Ferdinand I of Bourbon gave the "Isola bella" to the citizens of Taormina to compensate them for their loyalty during the wars against Napoleon.

Around the XVIII century, innumerable writers and artists (Goethe, Maupassant, Houel and many others) began to show a marked interest for the beauty of the town and its archaeological remains. Taormina slowly acquired popularity and fame, becoming a favourite tourist destination for high society from all over the world, especially from England and Germany. Figures like Wolfgang Goethe, the painter Otto Geleng, Friedrich Nietzsche, Richard Wagner, Kaiser Wilhelm II, Oscar Wilde, the Tzar Nicholas I, Gustave Klimt, Sigmund Freud, Gabriele D'Annunzio, Edmondo De Amicis, and bankers, aristocrats and such people have been here in the course of time and witnessed the uniqueness of this place.

Isola Bella - Taormina

Taormina became popular for its beauty, its "dolce vita", but also for its learned circles. The population of farmers, fishers, craftsmen turned into traders, hotel managers, building contractors.
After the World Wars, Taormina spread its territory on the surrounding hills, without threatening its natural charm, and tourism became the main economic activity. Until 1968 the town was a favourite destination for winter rich travellers, and its hotels were open only from October through June. Lots of writers such as Truman Capote, André Gide and D.H.Lawrence, or aristocrats such as Juliana from Netherlands, the Swedish and Danish royal family, famous artists such as Ava Gardner, Romy Schneider, Liz Taylor, Richard Burton and Greta Garbo spent several winter months here in their "dolce vita".

Taormina and Etna volcano

After 1968's earthquake in Belice valley, in western and central Sicily, most of Taormina hotel managers were afraid of losing their rich regular customers, and began renting their rooms to the major European tour operators to save their profits. This was the beginning of a new trend in tourist development, because since then most of the hotels devoted themselves to mass tourism, giving up their aspiration to a high class individual tourism.

After the '70 of last century, mass tourism has caused a disorderly urban spread and the rising of innumerable low-class hotels, restaurants and shops, often offering a non-professional service and low-quality reception. Hotels in Taormina have ceased to be holiday houses for privileged people, to welcome with courtesy and dignity, and often are anonymous places for anonymous customers as anywhere else in the world.

Taormina Arte

Today, a few businessmen are betting again on luxury hotels, maisons de charme or private residencies, open all the year round, which have quickly given back Taormina its old glory, elegance and richness. Corso Umberto I, the shopping mall right in the heart of the historical centre, hosts the windows of the major fashion "griffes" in the world, and the innumerable cultural events in town attract tourists and visitors in every season. Taormina keeps on being one of the most beautiful, charming and interesting places in Sicily.

Highlights in Taormina

Saint Nicholas Church

A short distance from Porta Catania, one of the old town gates, you can find this nice church, erected around 1400 in gothic style and whose exterior suggests the idea of a fortress-church. The interior has a Latin cross plan and is divided into three naves. The ceiling features wooden beams according to the Arab style.

Saint Pancras Church

Saint Pancras is the patron saint of this town, and the church dedicated to him was erected on the ruins of a Greek temple around half of the XUI century. The interior, made out of multicoloured marble and local stone, hosts a fresco portraying the martyrdom of Saint Pancras.

The Greek-Roman Theatre

Greek-Roman theatre - Taormina

The Greek-Roman theatre rises on a cliff on Tauro Mount, and it was built by the Greeks in III century B.C. and later widened and restored by the Romans. Since its construction it has always been one of the most active theatres under the Greeks' rule, and it still hosts various shows during the summer season.

The acoustics is so good that even people sitting at the very back are able to appreciate music concerts or plays. Of course acoustics is not the only appeal of this theatre. Who wouldn't be fascinated by this magnificent stage with the Etna and the blue Mediterranean sea on the background?

The theatre is a short distance from the shopping mall Corso Umberto I, and it's open every day from 9.00 a.m. to 06.00 p.m.

Corvaja Palace - Taormina

Corvaja Palace

Corvaja Palace is a splendid example of Sicilian architecture in the XIV and XV century. It's on Vittorio Emanuele Square, a few metres from Corso Umberto I. The mansion boasts two magnificent halls, dating back to the XIV and XV century, but also a remarkable bas-relief, located in a courtyard, portraying the birth of Eve, the original sin and the chasing of Adam and Eve from Eden and subsequent life of labour. Corvaja Palace also hosts a little museum of Sicilian popular arts and folklore.

Sicilian Museum of Popular Arts and Folklore

This museum exhibits examples of figurative arts and artistic craftwork dating back to the XVI through XX century. Among them are wooden statues, artistic pottery, typical Sicilian carts, posters of puppet shows.

The Odeon

Odeon - Taormina

The Odeon, discovered during an archaeological campaign in 1892, is the smaller theatre of Taormina. You can find it behind Corvaja Palace, along Corso Umberto I. It was built at the times of Roman Emperors and its structure is very like the Greek-Roman Theatre. It has been mostly used for exclusive shows.

Dukes of Saint Stephen Palace

Dukes of Saint Stephen Palace is located a few metres from Porta Catania, one of the two old entrances to the historical centre. It was built on the XVI century and its exterior shows a mixture of gothic and Arab style. Elegant double-lancet windows alternate with lava stone carved frames, precious capitals and sophisticated top mouldings. The ground floor hosts a small hall used for temporary exhibitions, while the first floor hosts a permanent exhibition of works by the sculptor Giuseppe Mazzullo.

Regional Archaeological Museum

This museum, located in the so-called "Badia Vecchia", displays a collection of archaeological foundings brought to light between 1948 and 1998. The exhibition is set out on two floors, and it includes objects such as little statues, pottery, various pieces coming from the Greek-Roman Theatre, earthenware, an alabaster urn and a Byzantine sword found in the sea next to the "Isola Bella".

Antiquarium

Antiquarium - Taormina

It is a small exhibition area located in the Greek-Roman Theatre guardian's house Most of the archaeological foundings displayed in it in the past have now been moved to the archaeological museums in Naples, Syracuse and Messina, but the Antiquarium still shows a few remarkable pieces such as the bases of a few marble statues bearing ancient inscriptions, a few carved pillars and a marble sarcophagus.

Naumachiae

The actual Naumachiae are only the ruins of a great thermal bath dating back to The Roman period. They are located in the very heart of the historical centre.

"Badia Vecchia"

It's the most characteristic monument of the medieval age. Its facade is adorned by wide lancet arch windows alternated with bands of thin columns on a carved background, forming a sort of nice lace with their contrast between black and white stone.

S. Augustin Church

It was built between the XV and the XVI century, according to the emerging Renaissance style. It was renovated in the XVIII century, losing part of its Renaissance features. Today it hosts the municipal library.

Events in Taormina

Taormina Film Fest

The municipality of Taormina organizes innumerable shows and cultural events, especially in the summer. Since 1983, the most important cultural events are organized by Taormina Arte, a cultural institution which annually plans music concerts, drama plays, ballet or modern dance performances, and fashion shows. Taormina Arte also takes care of Taormina Film Fest, a cinema festival awarding the "Nastro d'argento" prizes. The favourite spot for most of these events is the Greek-Roman Theatre, which usually hosts, for example, the Film Fest, the musical event "Festivalbar", and the fashion show "la Kore".

Since 2005, Taormina Arte also takes care of the "Giuseppe Sinopoli Festival", a series of music concerts dedicated to the great Sicilian conductor, died in 2001, who was artistic director of Taormina Arte for several years.

copyright © 2008-2019 Le Case del Principe - Partita IVA: 02584030833 - Cookies policy - Partners