Taormina

the Pearl of the Ionian sea

Taormina is considered “The Pearl of the Jonian sea” and it is situated on a hilltop overlooking the Ionian Sea and is known for its stunning views, historical sites, and vibrant atmosphere. 

The history is extremely ancient, have a look following…

Ancient Greek Settlement: Taormina was originally founded by the Greeks who lived in Naxos (the bay under it) in the 4th century BC. The ancient Greeks chose the site for its strategic location on a high plateau with commanding views of the Ionian Sea. The city was known as Tauromenion in Greek.

Roman Era: In the 3rd century BC, Taormina came under Roman rule after the Punic Wars. During this period, the city flourished and gained importance as a Roman colony who renovated the Greek Theater such as a testament to their influence.

Byzantine and Arab Rule: After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Taormina experienced a series of rulers, including the Byzantines and later the Arabs ( from the 9th to the 11th century).

Norman Conquest: The Normans, led by Roger I of Sicily, conquered Taormina in the 11th century. They left their mark on the city through the construction of churches and fortifications, for this reason the Saint the Cathedral (Duomo) is dedicated to Saint Nicholas of Bari.

Medieval Period: Taormina continued to be a thriving medieval town, experiencing various rulers, including the Swabians and the Aragonese. The city was often involved in conflicts and power struggles during this time.

Renaissance and Baroque Periods: Taormina saw cultural and architectural developments during the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Various structures, such as the Palazzo Corvaja, reflect the architectural styles of these eras.

Modern Era: In more recent history, Taormina continued to be an important cultural and economic center. In the 19th century, it became a popular destination for European travelers on the Grand Tour.

Today, Taormina’s historical sites, including the ancient theater and medieval structures, attract visitors from around the world. Its rich history, combined with its stunning natural surroundings, contributes to its status as one of Sicily’s most iconic and beloved destinations.

teatro greco sullo sfondo con vista etna vulcano

Ancient Theater

The theater of Taormina was originally built by the ancient Greeks in the 3rd century BC and offers breathtaking views of Mount Etna and the sea. It is still used for performances and events today.

The Ancient Theatre of Taormina is believed to have been constructed by the Greeks of Tauromenion  (over Tauro Mount).

Roman Modifications: Although initially built by the Greeks, the theater underwent significant modifications during the Roman period. The Romans adapted and expanded the structure to accommodate their entertainment events, including gladiator contests.

Greek-Roman Blend: The Ancient Theatre of Taormina is a remarkable example of the fusion of Greek and Roman architectural elements. The original Greek layout is still evident, while the Romans added their touches, including the construction of the skene.

Architectural Features: The theater is set on the hillside, offering panoramic views of the Ionian Sea and Mount Etna. It is characterized by its well-preserved semicircular seating, the skene (stage building), and the orchestra. The theater could accommodate up to 5,000 spectators.

Events and Performances: In its ancient days, the theater hosted various performances, including Greek tragedies, Roman plays, and gladiator contests. Today, it continues to be used for cultural events, including concerts, theatrical performances, and festivals.

Archaeological Site: The Ancient Theatre of Taormina is part of a larger archaeological complex that includes remnants of Roman villas and other structures. Visitors can explore the site and get a glimpse into the ancient history of the region.

Views of Mount Etna: One of the unique aspects of the theater is its stunning backdrop, with views of the imposing Mount Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe. The combination of ancient architecture and natural beauty makes the site particularly captivating.

Modern Use: The theater is still used for events and performances, drawing visitors from around the world. The annual Taormina Film Fest is also hosted at the Ancient Theatre, bringing international attention to the site.

Visitors to Taormina often consider the Ancient Theatre a must-see attraction due to its historical significance, architectural beauty, and the breathtaking views it offers.

The main street, Corso Umberto

colorful narrow streets full of shops in taormina

It is a vibrant and lively thoroughfare that runs through the heart of the town, offering a mix of shops, cafes, restaurants, and historical landmarks. Here are some highlights to visit. Central Location: Corso Umberto serves as the main artery of Taormina, running from Porta Messina to Porta Catania. It is a pedestrianized street, making it a popular place for both locals and tourists to stroll and explore. Shopping: The street is lined with a variety of shops, boutiques, and souvenir stores. Visitors can find a range of items, including local handicrafts, clothing, jewelry, and traditional Sicilian products. Cafes and Restaurants: Corso Umberto is dotted with numerous cafes and restaurants, offering a chance to relax and enjoy traditional Sicilian cuisine. Many establishments have outdoor seating, providing a pleasant atmosphere for people-watching and enjoying the surroundings. Architectural Charm: Along the street, you’ll encounter a mix of architectural styles, including buildings with wrought-iron balconies, colorful facades, and charming details. The architecture reflects the town’s historical and cultural influences. Piazza IX Aprile: This square is one of the main focal points along Corso Umberto. It offers stunning panoramic views of the Ionian Sea and Mount Etna. The square is surrounded by cafes and is a popular spot for events, gatherings, and live performances. Church of Saint Joseph: Located along Corso Umberto, the Church of Saint Joseph (Chiesa di San Giuseppe) is a Baroque-style church that adds to the architectural charm of the street. Clock Tower: The Clock Tower (Torre dell’Orologio) is another notable landmark along Corso Umberto. It stands near Piazza IX Aprile and is part of the historic gate that leads to the town. Nightlife: In the evenings, Corso Umberto comes alive with a lively atmosphere. Many of the cafes and bars stay open late, and the street is often bustling with people enjoying the nightlife. Corso Umberto is not only a commercial hub but also a cultural and social center in Taormina. Its picturesque setting, combined with the variety of activities and attractions along the way, makes it a must-visit for anyone exploring this charming Sicilian town.

The Cathedral of Saint Nicholas of Bari

main church of Taormina and square

Dedicated to Saint Nicholas of Bari, this cathedral features a mix of architectural styles, including medieval, Norman, and Baroque. The Cathedral is located in the heart of the historic center of Taormina. 

Architectural Style: The cathedral exhibits a mix of architectural styles, the structure combines elements of medieval, Norman, Gothic, and Baroque architecture. History: The cathedral has a long history, with its origins dating back to the 13th century during the Norman rule of Sicily. Over the centuries, it underwent several modifications and reconstructions. Norman Influence: The original structure was influenced by Norman architecture, and remnants of this influence can still be seen in some parts of the cathedral. Baroque Facade: The Baroque-style facade, which is one of the notable features of the cathedral, was added during the 17th century. It is adorned with intricate decorations and sculptures. Interior: The interior of the Taormina Cathedral features a nave with side aisles. The church houses several artworks, including paintings and sculptures, that reflect the religious and artistic heritage of the region.

 

ancient palaces Corvaja with interestigGothic Norman mullioned windows

Palazzo Corvaja: An ancient palace with a mix of Norman, Gothic, and Moorish influences. The palace’s origins date back to the 10th century, during the period of Arab rule in Sicily. Over the centuries, it underwent several modifications and expansions under different rulers, including the Normans and the Aragonese. The name: “Corvaja” is believed to be a corruption of the Arabic term “Qorbat,” meaning fortress or defensive structure. This reflects the building’s original purpose as a defensive structure during the Arab period.

Norman-Aragonese Period: In the 15th century, during the Aragonese rule, Palazzo Corvaja underwent significant renovations such as: the exterior staircase and the loggia with pointed arches.

Current Use: Today, Palazzo Corvaja is home to the Sicilian Museum of Art and Folk Tradition (Museo Siciliano di Arte e Tradizioni Popolari). The museum showcases exhibits related to Sicilian folk traditions, arts, and crafts, providing visitors with insights into the region’s cultural heritage.

Courtyard: The palace has a charming inner courtyard, surrounded by columns and arches. This courtyard adds to the overall ambiance of the building and is often used for cultural events.

Location: Palazzo Corvaja is strategically situated on Corso Umberto, the main street of Taormina, making it easily accessible to visitors exploring the town.

Visitors to Taormina often appreciate Palazzo Corvaja not only for its historical significance but also for its architectural beauty and the cultural experiences it offers. It stands as a testament to the town’s rich and diverse history, showcasing the layers of influences from different civilizations over the centuries.

Gardens of Villa Comunale: offering panoramic views of the coastline and Mount Etna. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy the scenery. The Villa Comunale is situated on the eastern side of Taormina, overlooking the Ionian Sea. It provides stunning views of the coastline and the surrounding landscape.

Historical Background: The garden dates back to the early 20th century when it was established as a public park. It was designed by the Englishwoman Florence Trevelyan, who was married to the Italian mayor of Taormina, Salvatore Cacciola 

Scenic Views: One of the main attractions of Villa Comunale is the breathtaking panoramic views it offers. Visitors can enjoy sweeping vistas of the sea, the Bay of Naxos, and the distant Mount Etna. 

Landscaping: The garden is beautifully landscaped with a variety of plants, flowers, and trees. Visitors can explore winding paths, shaded areas, and well-maintained green spaces.

Monuments and Statues: Within Villa Comunale, you’ll find several monuments and statues. One notable feature is the War Memorial, commemorating the fallen soldiers of World War I. There’s also a bronze statue of Winged Victory.

Teatro Greco View: The garden’s location on the hillside provides an excellent view of the ancient Greek Theatre.

Relaxation and Recreation: Villa Comunale offers a peaceful atmosphere, making it an ideal place for relaxation and recreation. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll, have a picnic, or simply sit and enjoy the surroundings. 

Villa Comunale is not only a place of natural beauty but also a testament to the blending of different cultural influences in Taormina. Its strategic location, combined with its well-maintained gardens and stunning views, makes it a favored destination for those exploring the town.

the sea is split in two from a sandy tongue and a small island

Isola Bella: A small island nature reserve connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of land. Isola Bella is known for its crystal-clear waters and is a popular spot for swimming and snorkeling. 

Natural Beauty: featuring crystal-clear waters, unique rock formations, and lush vegetation. The island is often referred to as the “Pearl of the Ionian Sea.”

Connected by Sandbar: Isola Bella is connected to the mainland by a narrow sandbar, which is often visible and accessible during low tide. This sandbar makes it possible for visitors to walk to the island, enhancing the overall experience.

Marine Life: The surrounding waters of Isola Bella are part of a marine reserve, making it an ideal location for snorkeling and underwater exploration. The area is home to a variety of marine life and colorful underwater fauna.

Beaches: The island itself has a small pebble beach, and the clear waters make it a popular spot for swimming and sunbathing. Visitors can relax on the beach and enjoy the picturesque views of the coastline.

Flora and Fauna: The island’s vegetation includes various Mediterranean plants, and it serves as a habitat for several bird species.

Villa and Museum: On the island, there is a historic villa that once belonged to Florence Trevelyan, a Scottish noblewoman; she was born in 1852 in Scotland and married into the Trevelyan family. Florence Trevelyan, along with her husband, Edward Otto Schiff, acquired Isola Bella in the late 19th century.

The couple transformed the island into a private residence, building a villa and developing the gardens. Florence Trevelyan played a significant role in creating a beautiful and enchanting environment on Isola Bella. The gardens were designed with a variety of exotic plants, contributing to the island’s lush and picturesque landscape. While the villa itself may not always be accessible to the public, the gardens and the exterior of the property are often open for visitors. The villa and gardens on Isola Bella add to the historical and cultural appeal of the island, making it more than just a natural and recreational destination. Florence Trevelyan’s influence on Isola Bella is remembered as part of the island’s history, and her efforts in creating a unique and aesthetically pleasing environment contribute to the island’s charm and allure for those exploring Taormina.

Price starting from

€ 49 p.p.*

*min. 6 adults and major sightseeing

Come with me to discover Taormina!

R

PRICE INCLUDES

  • Tour leader and/or local guide
  • Full Day tour max. 8 hours.

NOT INCLUDED

  • Anything not mentioned in voice “THE PRICE INCLUDES”
  • Personal expenses, extras , tip and fees.
  • Entrance tickets for museums, churches etc…
  • Pick up and drop off transfer from/to your accommodation.
R

PRICE INCLUDES

  • Tour leader and/or local guide
  • Full Day tour max. 8 hours.

NOT INCLUDED

  • Anything not mentioned in voice “THE PRICE INCLUDES”
  • Personal expenses, extras , tip and fees.
  • Entrance tickets for museums, churches etc…
  • Pick up and drop off transfer from/to your accommodation.

Additional Information

The price could be subject to changes depending on the number of participants.

The tour could be combined with other services such as:

    • addition of pick up and drop off transfer from/to airport and more services.

Come discover with me Taormina!