Introduction: As soon as you arrive in Taormina, you will feel the magical, mythical atmosphere spread all around which has enchanted visitors from all over the world for years and years. Settled on a hill of the Monte Tauro, Taormina dominates two grand, sweeping bays below and on the southern side, the top of Mount Etna, the European highest active volcano, often capped with snow, offering to the visitors a breathtaking, dramatic and memorable view over almost one hundred miles of Mediterranean sea. Taormina really seems to be born as a tourist resort since past times, when ancient people like the Sicels, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Saracens, Arabs, Normans and Spaniards chose it as their residential site thank to its favourable position, mild climate and magic atmosphere. Nowadays visitors can still find fine examples of Taormina’s golden times: the splendid Greek Theatre, the Roman “Naumachiae”, the 10th century Palazzo Corvaja, the 13th century Cathedral of Saint Nicolò, the 16th century Palace of the Dukes of Saint Stefano, the public gardens, the “Badia Vecchia” (Ancient Abbey) and many others.
The resort was first publicised by a trio of German artists. In 1787 J.W. Goethe discovered the beauties of Sicily and, in particular, of Taormina. He wrote the world known novel “Italian Journey”, in which he describes the beauties of this land and its people and pronounced Taormina a “patch of paradise”. The German painter Otto Geleng rose intereset in Parisan art galleries exibiting his paintings about this magical landscapes. His contemporary, the young prussian photographer Wilhelm von Gloeden settled down in 1880 and made Taormina famous to all conservative European cultural clubs with his artistic portraits of nude sheperd boys with the volcano Etna on the backstage. Since then many important celebrities visited Taormina, electing it as their “escapade place” from chaotic city life. Patrik Brydone D.H. Lawrence, Truman Capote, Alexander Dumas, Anatole France, Andrè Gide, Paul Klee, Guy de Maupassant, Luigi Pirandello, John Steinbeck, Gustav Klimt, Elio Vittorini, Oscar Wilde, Richard Wagner, Johannes Brahms spent happy moments here. In more recent times movie, theatre and music celebrities such as Ingmar Bergmann, Francis Ford Coppola, Leonard Bergman, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Federico Fellini, Cary Grant, Tyrone Power, Gregory Peck, Marcello Mastroianni, Elisabeth Taylor, Woody Allen have spent pleasant and memorable holidays in the Mediterranean pearl.
Since the opening of the first hotel in 1874, Taormina has become one of the world top tourist destinations where visitors can experience a perfect combination of old times charming atmosphere, preservation of history and culture, an elegant and lively way of life to be enjoyed in relaxing walks through the old town pedestrian areas. The tourist has a lot to do and see: top level art performances at the Greek theatre, several painting exhibitions held in local palazzi and churces, fine elegant shopping along the famous “Corso Umberto” with its classical music cafès and pastry shops. Or visiting local art museums, taking naturalistic walks in the surrounding countryside, golfing at the nearby 18-holes green, enjoying the fantastic beaches at easy reach, where the mild Mediterranean climate allows to practise all water sports as swimming, scuba diving, sailing, windsurfing, or just sunbathing for nearly eight months a year and even more. Welcome to Taormina, the ultimate holiday paradise!
For those looking for the world known Sicilian cuisine, the town offers a wide choice of restaurants, trattorias and pizzerias, pastry-shops, bars, cafes, pubs and for any taste and budget. You won’t find many fast food: Sicilians aren’t really crazy about them! Come and see why… go to history.