This post is the fourth in a series about our trip to Sicily. This post is about Taormina, our first stop on our two-week excursion. Gary and I spent a day wandering the streets, enjoying the cuisine and sipping wines and limoncello. Check out our first, second, andthird posts if you missed them when they were first posted.
Taormina! We ate, we drank, we walked and walked and walked (17,000 steps),
and we shopped. Then we dropped.
If you watched or are watching Season Two of The White Lotus on HBO Max, you have seen Taormina. When Gary and I started watching the first episode, we repeatedly shouted, “We’ve been there.” In fact, in the Teatro Antico di Taormina scene, I exclaimed, “We sat there. I mean right there!” It was so cool to have moments of surprise during the show. Trust me, though, when I say the views in person are infinitely more stunning. And the hotel where so much of the show was filmed… we did walk past it but did not stay there. The show was filmed at the 14th-century convent converted into the Four Seasons, San Domenico Palace, Taormina. Our hotel Ramo d’Aria, in nearby Giarre (20 miles outside of town), costs roughly $200.00 a night versus the $2,800.00 or more at the Four Seasons.
Taormina – Gem of Eastern Sicily
Taormina is a beautiful town on the eastern coast of Sicily, Italy overlooking the Ionian Sea. It is known for its breathtaking views, rich history, and charming atmosphere. The town is divided into Upper Taormina (Taormina Alta) and Lower Taormina (Taormina Basso). A steep, rocky hillside separates these areas. Both are accessible by car, of course, but a funicular also shuttles folks from one to another. Upper Taormina is the older and more historic part of the town, featuring narrow stone streets, picturesque houses, and stunning views of the sea and the surrounding landscape. Taormina Basso is a more modern resort neighborhood with access to the beach.
Taormina Alta …
…has been inhabited since ancient times. Its long history is evidenced by its many ruins, including the ancient Greek theater, which dates back to the 3rd century BC. Coming from Charleston with a 600+-year-old history, we are keenly aware of what it takes to preserve history. However, preserving a town with a twenty-three hundred-year-old history is mind-blowing.
Today, Taormina is a popular tourist destination that attracts visitors from all over the world. Boutique shops, restaurants, and cafes line its narrow streets and stairways. Its many piazzas are perfect for people-watching and soaking up the local atmosphere. The town is also home to many ancient churches. The two most well-known are the 13th-century Cathedral of San Nicola and the 17th-century Church of St. Joseph.
Teatro Antico di Taormina
One of the most popular attractions in Taormina is the Teatro Antico di Taormina. An ancient Greek theater that overlooks the sea. The theater is still in use for performances today. Its stunning views make it one of the most iconic venues in the world.
Taormina Basso and Isola Bella
In addition to its history and culture, Taormina has beautiful rocky beaches. This is Taormina Basso, the more modern part of the town. Folks planning a beach vacation typically stay in the lower section of the city.
The town’s main beach, Isola Bella, is a small, rocky cove and a small island. When the tide is low, one can walk over to the island to explore.
The beaches are public. However, you should know that many resort hotels have detached outposts up against the hillside exclusively for their guests—a common theme on Italian beaches.
We only spent one day in Taormina, and that was not enough. Next time a minimum of three days with one full day at the beach, just for Gary. He loves lying in the sun. I could have done more shopping and perhaps not so many steps in one day.
Overall, Taormina is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Sicily. Its unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty makes it one of Italy’s most enchanting towns.
A note about our hotel in Giarre. We stayed in Giarre because it was closer to the wineries that we planned to visit. Otherwise, we could have stayed at an affordable hotel in the city. I did not want to leave the impression that there are only expensive hotels in Taormina.