I grew up in Taormina, the Pearl of the Mediterranean, I was 18 when I went away. Summer, though, for me has always meant at least seven days in my town where I have old friends, and where I know all the streets by heart.
My nest, perhaps the only place where I really feel at home, where life is that typical of small towns where even if I have not been seen for years … it’s enough to go around on the vespa (motorcycle) to be recognized even with a helmet and sunglasses on.
Yet never like this year, given the absence of exactly two years, have I started to notice things that perhaps those who come here for the first time would notice right away and sometimes the eyes of those who live in it take for granted. Small beautiful details, corners, entrances of houses, alleys, passages. From wherever you are look the panorama is worthy of the nickname that over the years continues to elect it TOP destination in Sicily.
Not only in summer but also in winter, the snow-covered Etna that lies on the coast where Catania rises, that had inspired the famous painting by Otto Geleng, is reason enough to come to this small village perched on Mount Tauro overlooking the sea, on the one hand the Calabrian coast, on the other the most active volcano in the world. From wherever you are facing, the view is unique.
The village winds around for streets and lanes, arteries of the main road: Corso Umberto where top fashion boutiques alternate with jewelry shops and some souvenir stores. The corso, amicably called “the tub” by the inhabitants of Taormina, is crowded from June until the end of August, especially on weekends, by the locals and from what I have noticed this year, by many Russians. The walk can start at Porta Messina (the arch that looks toward the north, thence Messina) or Porta Catania (the second arc that looks to the south).
To the right and left along the course, stairs … everywhere. Among which, the narrow alley, the name speaks for itself, flowering balconies and plants and lush colorful flowers housed in heads of Moors, vases in the shape of heads with strong Arab colors and faces of dark colors, in ceramic or earthenware, colored terraces of typical ceramics, the very beautiful Piazza IX Aprile of which sight is worth the slalom, or way of the Cross, as I call it, of the corso also on 15 August.
Taormina is not by the sea, it is above the sea, at 200 meters.
It dominates and leaves, to Giardini Naxos, Letojanni and Mazzaro the arduous task of welcoming the tourists that every summer flock to the beaches in August, which become a bit too full for my taste.
Yet Taormina is attractive, even when in August to go forward 10 meters will take you 10 minutes because you will remain bottled up in the crowd. Everybody are dressed elegantly, high heels, fashionable clothes. Premises close when the sun rises, the restaurants stay open late. Midnight is the hour to go out if you dine at home. Sometimes even at 1 am, you never know at what time you will go home. I have stopped asking myself.
Discovering Taormina in 2 days
The great thing about this village is that taking the steps down or up will take you to quiet corners in which to escape if the crowd of Corso Umberto gets too much.
In this way, you shy away towards the beautiful square of Varò, with the stone walls of the houses and the climbing bougainvilleas, and lemon and orange trees, the square lit by large lamps that give off a warm light.
Same style and just as beautiful and intimate although very central The Square of Carmine and the deconsecrated church where often are hosted art exhibitions and performances. It is worth then a walk in the fairytale Public Gardens and a must stop at the lookout at the end of Via Pirandello, that presents you with a view of Isola Bella from the top.
It is worth then a walk in the fairytale Villa Comunale (Public Gardens) and a must stop at the lookout at the end of Via Pirandello, that presents you with a view of Isola Bella from the top.
Hidden but central the Naumachie, mauri in bricks of the Roman period that once was believed to be an aquatic circus in which the naval battles were represented (naumachia means in fact naval battle) but later identified as a fountain with water playing.
The dominations can be felt and seen in the palaces as in its people. Dark and deep eyes, the Saracens of today that are not far from the beautiful Sicilian fauns artistically photographed by von Gloeden who managed to capture the Sicilian in artistic nudes of priceless value when man fits perfectly in his place of origin.
Taormina is well-liked, and the whys are many.
Hard not to love this little quiet and elegant town overlooking the sea, which boasts among its treasures the Isola Bella, which I recommend to visit inside, the villa could surprise you, linked to the mainland via an isthmus of sand that appears and disappears depending on the tide, the Greek Theatre and the concentration of historical and archaeological artifacts that cannot escape not even the most distracted eye.
For a different afternoon, I strongly recommend considering a few hours up in Castelmola one of the oldest medieval towns in Italy.
The higher you go the more beautiful the panorama becomes, and sipping an aperitif in one of the many bars of Castelmola at sunset is one of my favorite things to do with friends especially those who do not know Taormina, because it might be that we islanders are proud in nature, it might be that the Taorminans are even more so ,though … there hasn’t been any one time I haven’t thought that this cannot be the place where I would want to spend one day, my old age: right between the sea and the sky
What to do in Taormina in 2 days
Taormina is beautiful for walking around, enjoying the little and elegant town center spending time looking at the wonderful view on Mount Etna falling down into the sea. It’s a small town, 1 day could be enough for visiting it but then, once you get here, I bet you hardly leave!
When you get tired, if you get tired, of going to the sea, Isola Bella, Mazzarò, Fondaco Parrino, you can dedicate yourself to daily excursions. Taormina, in fact, is located exactly halfway between Messina and Catania, hence the doubt for many of the province, Taormina is in the province of Messina, you can safely consider it as a base for organizing several excursions to do during the day including: Catania, Siracusa e Vendicari, Tindari, Aciscastello e Acitrezza, l’Etna o Modica. Check out the TOP 10 destinations in Sicily. What if you want to spend 2 days in town? Here is what I would recommend you!
What to do in Taormina in 2 days – Suggested itinerary
Taormina lends itself excellently also to visit some tourist centers in eastern Sicily, for an idea of 7-day cruises having as base Taormina click here (a car is better!).
Best time to visit Taormina
From spring to autumn Taormina is beautiful, indeed, I personally prefer among all the months, September. It is then that the prices go down, the mass goes away, the sea water is still warm, Corso Umberto empties slowly until to fill up pretty much just during the weekend. August is the Terrifying and Delirious month.
Everywhere is full, restaurants, hotels, roads, kilometric queues that sometimes start from the motorway toll-gate up to the main parking lot of the city, Lumbi. Astronomical prices … even for those who live here.
Also May and June are quite interesting. It’s the beginning of summer, prices start to be higher but yet not like in July or August, and you will have chances to enjoy huge empty beaches (mainly from Monday to Friday).
Taormina is a 12 months tourist destination, even in winter can be a nice base to discover the eastern part of Sicily. You won’t swim, of course, but the climate is pretty temperated also during winter.
Where to stay in Taormina
Taormina is beautiful and as often happens, good things come with high prices. For those on a budget the best solutions are : either to stay in Giardini Naxos or in Letoianni and then pass the evenings in Taormina, or, if in more than two persons, to rent an apartment.
In all cases, mainly if you are planning to visit Taormina during high season you better book well in advance. August fills up quickly, and, as early as June, it becomes difficult to find economic solutions but above all free and available.
Dorm from €25
The only hostel in town. Wonderful location, very near the centrer of Taormina, simple but functional rooms. Dormitory beds from €25. Private double rooms from €80
La Pensione Svizzera
Double room from €120
This guest house tastefully furnished is located about 5 minutes walk from the center, Corso Umberto, and offers a marvelous view of Spisone and Calabria. Double rooms from € 122.
Double room from €95
With swimming pool and located in a residential area of Taormina, 300 meters from the Arco dei Cappuccini, the Soleado is a family-run hotel 600 meters from the historic center and the cable car to the beach.
Food & Fun in Taormina
I normally do not recommend where to eat for a fundamental reason. I am a good eater but as cooking critic, I’m a flop.
But here again I must say that Taormina does not joke as to costs, there are restaurants where a pizza can cost even €16.
I will list some of my favorite restaurants, even though mom’s cooking is unbeatable.
- Il Varò (Via Jean D’Orville 1, Taormina) – The pizza is delicate and light, the location beautiful! We are in Sicily, to try, the pizza of the Norma (named after Bellini’s opera) with eggplant and salty ricotta
- Taverna dell’Etna a Castelmola (Via Alcide De Gasperi, 29, Castelmola) – Newly discovered and elected to my favorite as to the quality/price ratio. Fair prices, fish specialties, incredible views (for the view … book in advance).
3.Villa Zuccaro (Piazza Carmine, 5, Taormina) – Beautiful location and good pizza
- Villa Zuccaro (Piazza Carmine, 5, Taormina)– Bellissima location e ottima pizza
- BamBar (Via di Giovanni 45, basta chiedere, lo conoscono tutti)– To come in Sicily and not try the granita is a crime! BamBar is un’isituzione, for breakfast or after the sea to cool off with this our local delight. The small bar offers the most delicious granita of Taormina, exaggerate if I write of Sicily? Try the granita of figs and that of almonds.. do not forget the brioche (exaggerate!)
- Gelateria Capriccio (Corso Umberto) – Dozens of tastes and for those who want to overdo it … .ice-cream inside the brioche.
- Pasticceria D’Amore (Via Costantino Patricio, arco dei Cappuccini, Taormina) – Looking for desserts like cannoli and almond paste sweets? This is the right place
- Il Morgana IS THE BAR. The Taormina fauna meets there, the space is small, indeed, not a lot, but the crowd is! Dress adequately I have a feeling that flip flops will not be welcome. Morgana Bar & Hibiscus Garden: Scesa Morgana 4.
A quieter area but absolutely charming is Piazza Paladini.
Here you will find several bars including one of my favorites, the Q Bar … orange trees and bouganvillas all around, tables in the open air and many people who chat and have fun!
Q Bar: Piazza Paladini 6
Discoteque La Giara is the most famous night club inTaormina, but “not my cup of tea” and yet it has an interesting history and has been a meeting place for famous people in the past.
Last but not least, the Turrisi Bar, the bar of the Phallus in Castelmola. I have to admit that perhaps it’s become a little too much though a few laughs are assured and an aperitif on the terrace offers a splendid view of the bay of Giardini and of our Etna.
Now, tell me. Are you sure you only want to stay for 2 days? I bet, you won’t!
Looking for some travel ideas in Sicily?
Sicily offers many travel options, for those who love trekking, the sea, islands or culture, to food and wine trips.
The itineraries are therefore indicative but, I think, represent quite well the endless travel options that this complex island offers to its visitors.
I travel independently taking mainly public transport. A world trip began in 2011 is not yet finished, my mission is to explore the world and write about it. Travel consultant Galapagos, Argentina, Morocco, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Namibia.