The Pearl Of The Mediterranean
 


Guy de Maupassant in La Vie errante, 1885, writes:
"If somebody might pass one day only in Sicily and asked: "What should I visit?" I would answer without hesitate: "Taormina". It is only a landscape, but a landscape in which you can find all that seems to be created on earth to seduce the eyes, mind and fantasy. Where are the peoples who could make, today, things like these? Where are the men able in building, for the crowd pleasure, works like these?
Those men, the ones of a time, had soul and eyes different from the ours; in their veins, with blood, flowed something lost: love and cult for Beauty."

 


Taormina plays a fundamental role as one of the most important archaeological locations in Italy.
The Greeks, fathers of Italian and European culture, settled their first colony in Italy exactly here in the Bay of Naxos, in 735 B.C.
Taormina is home to one of the most famous Greek Theatres in the world.
With a diameter of 120 metres (after an expansion in the 2nd century), this theatre is the second largest of its kind in Sicily (after that of Syracuse).
Here, in summertime, the main events of the International Film, Music, Dance and Theatre Festival of Taormina Arte take place.

 


From the centre of town, a cable car connects Taormina to the spectacular beach of Isola Bella. This island was a private property owned by Florence Trevelyan until 1990, when it was bought by the Region of Sicily, being turned into a nature reserve, administrated by the Italian branch of the World Wide Fund for Nature.
There is a narrow path that often connects the island to the mainland beach.
The island is surrounded by sea grottos and has a small and rather rocky beach which is a popular destination for sunbathers.

 


The stunning small beach of Mazzaro' is set in a bay to the north of Isola Bella and is one of the most popular in the area.
Its pebble shore is dotted by bathing lidos with sun umbrellas and beach beds and also free beach areas.
Accessible by means of the spectacular cable railway leaving from Taormina.

 


About halfway along Taormina's main drag of Corso Umberto is the town center, Piazza IX Aprile, a communal living room built as a terrace with a view over the Ionian sea from the railing bounding one side.
Lined with pricey cafés and brimming with visitors and caricature artists, it's the best place to sit back and enjoy the relaxed resorty ambience of Taormina.
The square was named after the 9th of April, 1860, when mass in the Taormina cathedral down the street was interrupted to announce that Garibaldi had landed at Marsala to begin his conquest of Sicily that made it part of Italy.

 


Corvaja Palace was originally built in the 10th century by the Arabs who then ruled Taormina, having conquered the town in 902. The origins of the palazzo incorporate an early Arab fortress dating from the 10th century, which in turn was constructed on Roman foundations.
It was subsequently added to over various periods up until the 15th century. It is named after one of the oldest and most famous families of Taormina, which owned it from 1538 to 1945. In 1410, Corvaja Palace housed the Sicilian Parliament. It was renovated in 1945 by Armando Dillo, and as of 2009 it is the seat for the Azienda Autonoma Soggiorno e Turismo. It is also used as an exhibition centre.

 


Parco Duca di Cesaro' is a real green lung, populated by lush vegetation of palm trees and a large quantity of flowers, that, in summer, make this place a delight for the eyes.
The villa was originally settled by Lady Florence Trevelyan, a Scottish noblewoman who left her country after having had an affair with the heir to the throne of England Edward VII.
Arrived in Taormina in 1884 Lady Trevelyan married the mayor prof. Salvatore Cacciola.
The gardens become the property of the town since 1922 and inside you can still admire the particular constructions made built by Lady Trevelyan ornamental purposes, calls victorian follies.

 


In ancient times Taormina was protected by a circuit of walls with a triple fortification system. Traces of these walls can still be seen at the two furthest ends of the town where there are two entrances, commonly called Porta Messina and Porta Catania. Porta Messina, restored at the beginning of the 19th century, was named Porta Ferdinanda when it was opened in 1808 by Ferdinand IV of Bourbon. There is a tablet commemorating the occasion on the top of its arch. Porta Catania on the other hand is the end result of various changes and restorations, the last of which were performed in 1440 by the Aragonese. The Aragonese coat-of-arms sculpted in relief above the city coat-of-arms in the centre on the top part of the gate.

 


The town of Taormina is perched on a cliff overlooking the Ionian Sea.
Besides the ancient Greek theatre, it has many old churches, lively bars, fine restaurants and antique shops.
The Santuario Madonna della Rocca is one such church. Located on the slope above the town, it commands an impressive view of the coast and Mount Etna to the south, and is accessible on foot via the staired path, Salita Castello.
Taormina is approximately a forty-five-minute drive away from Europe's largest active volcano, Mount Etna.


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