This summer we visited the beautiful island of Sicily. Having not visiting before, we were unsure what we would find. What we did find was an island full of history, culture, delicious food and spectacular scenery.
We actually spent six days in Taormina, but I think that if you wanted to explore the island and include other destinations, four days would be plenty to spend in Taormina.
Taormina is an ancient town found in 4 BC. Having been a prominent town in medieval times, it became a popular tourist destination in the 19th century, and continues to be so! It is 250 metres above sea level, perched on a cliff overlooking the Ionian Sea, It’s a lively town with many bars and restaurants and also lots of beautiful churches and buildings.
How to get there
Where to stay
We stayed at the Hotel Excelsior. You can see our hotel tour over on IGTV. We loved our stay here at this 4 star hotel, mainly for the fantastic views over the bay, the closeness to the old town and the delicious cocktails served!
After a relax by the pool and soaking up those views, it’s time for a promenade throughout the town. The town is an incredibly romantic setting, and you are sure to see many brides and grooms as you wander about.
The Main Street, The Corso Umberto I, is a busy, pedestrianised street full of different shops including lovely antique shops, plenty of souvenir shops and many boutiques. It’s shopper heaven! It’s lovely to have a mooch. There are plenty of restaurants, but actually we preferred to divert off the Main Street and explore the back alleys and we found some great places.
If you carry on walking down the street, you eventually come to Piazza 9 Aprile. Although full of tourists, it’s a beautiful spot. The terrace looks out over the bay of Naxos, with Mount Etna one way, and the Teatro Antico the other. Also on the square are many fabulous buildings such as The Church of San Giuseppe, built in the 17th century. The church is in the Sicilian Baroque style, with it’s notable feature being a beautiful double staircase. There is also Sant’Agostino church, which is now deconsecrated and used as a public library! The square is full of vendors, tourists, musicians, cafes and restaurants. It’s the perfect place to an evening stroll.
Also of note, is the medieval square Piazza del Duomo. A square with a cathedral in the corner which boasts pink marble towers and a rather fetching-looking fountain which has a two-legged female centaur wearing a crown and hoisting a scepter in her right hand and a globe in her left – the mascot of Taormina!
For a bit of an adventure on day two, walk through the old town, to the cable car. Yes, really, a cable car! This will take you down the rock face to the coastline. The cable car runs every 15 minutes, and it is open from 7.45am to 20.00pm daily, except Mondays, when the opening is scheduled at 8.45am. The price of a one-way ticket is € 3. Here you can choose to go and spend the day on either Isola Bella or Mazzoro. Both are beautiful, pebbled beaches, with lidos for a day of sunbathing and swimming.
We chose to go to Isola Bella, and after being told it was the ‘pearl of the Ionian’, we had high expectations. Thankfully, it did not let us down. The beach sweeps around in a semi circle, leading out to an islet of the same name. The area is surrounded by lush vegetation and turquoise seas. For us, we found the sea beautiful. Awash with fish and some coral, it was excellent for snorkelling, which our children love.
The islet was purchased by Lady Trevelyan, an English aristocrat, in the 1890s, and she built a small house and planted exotic plants. It is now protected by the WWF, but many thank Lady Trevelyan for protecting and creating this beautiful place. You can venture onto the islet for 4 euros entrance.
You can’t go to Taormina without visiting the ancient theatre. The theatre originates from Greek times, and is still in use today. I have written a separate blog on this, but the Taormina Antico Teatro is not worth missing!
Either on your way to the theatre, or on your way back, the small legs in your party might like a run around at the Botanic Gardens in Taormina. The grounds are reasonably extensive with pathways taking you to various follies and also the rather splendid view to the sea and Mount Etna. There is a small playground (for under fives). The gardens are planted with palm trees, bougainvillea and cacti making it a pleasant break from the crowded streets of Taormina!
I have two alternatives for your last day, depending on how you are feeling!
If you are feeling active, you can travel over to Etna.Etna is an active volcano, with many way to discover it: Take a cable car, 4×4 and even a donkey! Annabel over a the Smudged Postcard blogged her guided tour of Etna, which is well worth a read if you are planning trip there.
As an alternative, you can visit the seaside resort of Giardiano Naxos, which has a long strip of sandy beach, with shallow warm, calm sea to swim in. Also resident here, is a Wibit (an inflatable obstacle course in the sea), which my beady eyed daughter spotted from our hotel down in the bay! Wibits are brilliant fun for the kids, and well worth the $10 euros for an hour.
Sicily is an island worthy of exploring, to help you plan your trip here are some blogs to help you!
Claire at Tin Box Traveller gives you 5 things to do in Palmero.
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