Taormina Travel Tips
Hotels are very old and full of history and elegance... and always have amazing breakfasts (which includes a lot of sweets). Most of the hotels are boutique and family run, which is great for service and a taste of local life. There are some stunning hotels to choose from, each offering a slightly different view and great beaches.
Regardless of where you stay, a room with a view is a must have while in Taormina. There is nothing like waking up to a gorgeous sea & volcano view everyday. It is worth every penny.
Taormina was founded in the 4th century BC and has become a high end tourist spot in the past few centuries. Luxury boutiques line the narrow streets and alley's throughout the town. Restaurants and cafe's are the best spots to sit, eat and people watch for hours.
In high season, the town is very full, especially when the cruise ships come in. Since we were there in Jan/Feb it was quiet and so lovely to have the town basically to ourselves. I can't even imagine it in high season, however, it would definitely add to vibe! I have put together some highlights from my adventure in picturesque Taormina:
Walk everywhere - Since it is such a small place, walking makes the most sense for just about anywhere you would like to go. The only time I would suggest taking a taxi is to go up and down from train station and to go to the Island or beaches that are further down or in a different town. Renting a car will be frustrating as there are limited parking zones and the streets are very tight and congested with pedestrians. Walking around is so relaxing and allows you to take in the details of the whimsical art and soul of Taormina.
Giardini della Villa Comunale - Stunning public park. Get away from the crows and walk through the beautiful park and read up on the history of the area. The park provides a nice view of Mt. Etna and the bay.
The Vibrant Alleys - Colourful art filled alley's create a maze effect off the main streets. The tradition in Sicily and more specifically Taormina, is the Maiolica Italian tin-glazed pottery made with bold colours creating a middle eastern vibe. This alley has more
Mount Etna Views - It's not everyday that people get to wake up to an active volcano. Nature is truly spectacular, and the Etna views from Taormina do not let down. Between eight and ten a.m. the view is clear, stunning and very interesting to watch as plumes of smoke rise out of the top. After that, the sky covers over, and it is difficult to get a clear view... so make sure you get up in time to enjoy the views and a delicious Sicilian Breakfast along with it. Speaking of breakfast... our hotel had an amazing spread. I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of sweets and fresh baked goods they eat in the morning. I countered all of the sugar with some very flavourful local oranges. Finding a hotel with a great view is key. You can also go up to the Greek Theatre to take it in or take a day trip up the trails to the summit. Be sure to check the site first for the seismic readings, as the local are quite lax about it... which has led to entire neighbouring towns being wiped out by lava :/.
Porta Catania - A beautiful entrance to the town from the south. The entrance gets it's name as it faces out to the city of Catania. One side has a patio with a view and the other lined with local shoe makers, salons and high end shops.
Ancient Greek Theatre - Taormina is home to an ancient Greek theatre which is a must see. Even if you have already visited others, I found this one to be very unique as it is surrounded by water and also provides stunning views of the town and Mount Etna.
Where to Eat - There are way too many to list off. Basically if you stumble upon a place that isn't right in the centre square, the food is local, fresh and very tasty. Osteria Nero D'Avola is very fresh and always fully booked - which is a good thing!
Al Saraceno provides stunning views and amazing pasta. Restorante al Duomo is a hidden gem, located across from the Cathedral Church of St Nicola in Belvedere Square. A couple of Sicilian classics are: Spaghetti all Norma and pasta con le sarde (they love their grilled seafood here). Pasticceria Etna is a must with their cold tea w/ lemon sorbet.
Belvedere Square - A great place to take in panoramic views of Taormina. The square is bordered by two churches, excellent people watching cafes for a bustling atmosphere
Fresh fruit trees line the streets.
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