Have you ever asked yourself what inspires you to travel to a new location? Is it lying on a beach with a martini, or viewing paintings in a museum? From person to person the ‘ideal’ vacation experience is different.
We had planned to escape the city by visiting Taormina for the weekend. Perched spectacularly on the side of a mountain, the picturesque town is 250m above sea level. From various points of the city you can enjoy the view of the Mediterranean Sea and of Mount Etna.
My partner and I prefer to explore locations untouched by tourism. We adore exploring new cultures and regions without the use of a travel guide. How would we find Taormina, which is often described as a ‘shameless tourist resort town, beloved by celebrities’?
While exploring the streets, we discovered Taormina catered for all types of travellers, perhaps even you.
HISTORY | The city streets overflow with a rich history that can be overlooked in passing.
In ancient times a circuit of walls and fortification system protected Taormina. These ancient ruins can be found in many locations of the city, including the city gates; ‘Porta Messina’ and ‘Porta Catania’.
Taormina also boasts a perfectly preserved Greek Amphitheatre, built in the third century BC (€10). Other historic sites include the Arabian Necropolis, the Naumachie Ruins and the Piazza Duomo Fountains.
BEACHES | To enjoy a romantic sun-rise with your sweetheart, Isola Bella is a short stroll from Taormina. (Isola Bella is closed during winter, though you can still enjoy the main beach.)
To return home looking sun-kissed hire a sun bed (€15) at the spacious Lido Copacabana and absorb the Mediterranean sunshine.
SHOPPING | The streets of Taormina are bustling with an array of different stores filled with shoes, food items and clothing. For shops that stock high fashion pieces like Bottega Veneta, D&G and Gucci, the stores Musumeci and Parisi are for you.
Perfect souvenirs are colourful Sicilian ceramics, or local marzipan from one of the many food stores.
FOOD & DRINK | Although the food menu caters for tourists, Tiramisu boasts a fantastic wine menu. Try the ‘Perricone 2011 de Manfredi Guccione’, a perfect introduction to Sicilian Wines.
When I imagined eating in Sicily, I envisioned a quaint restaurant serving plates of fresh pasta prepared lovingly by a nonna. Owned by husband and wife, Taverna al Paladino exceeded our culinary expectations. Offering affordable and authentic Italian Cuisine, the regional specialties Pasta alla Norma and Cannoli Crepes were a mouthwatering treat.
For a more indulgent meal, Casa DioLi is pure indulgence. The service is attentive, the cuisine is perfectly balanced in flavours and texture while being paired with an exceptional wine selection. Reservations are suggested in peak season.
ACTIVE | For an easy morning stroll, the Madonna Della Rocca has breathtaking views of Taormina and Mount Etna.
For a more challenging walk, proceed 2km to the village above, Castelmola, which floats 529 meters above sea level. Upon arrival the quaint plaza offers a local café with stunning views of Taormina. The small cobblestoned streets offer panoramic views of the mountains, the sea and Italy in the horizon.
Instead of returning to Taormina from Castelmola, continue your hike to Mounte Venere (884 meters above sea level.) Standing amongst the fields of wild fennel, the view is completely humbling.
What kind of activities do you enjoy when you are abroad?