Things to do in Taormina? Embedded in Mount Tauro, Taormina is a little gem overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, full of wonders and beautiful natural scenery. If you are wondering about the things to do in Taormina, you are in the right place. Let’s discover together what to do in Taormina and what Taormina attractions to visit to make your holiday indelible.
Things to do in Taormina, the Pearl of the Mediterranean
The things to do in Taormina include visits to the attractions that are all gathered in Corso Umberto I, the main street named after the King of Italy Umberto I of Savoy. The Corso is a pedestrian area – usually very crowded but very pleasing to stroll through – rich in architectural and artistic evidence of different times.
Starting the walk from Messina Gate, the first Taormina attraction you’ll bump into is the Greek theatre. The second theatre for size in Sicily, its construction dates back to the III century BC when it hosted Greek dramatic performances. Then extended in Roman times to accommodate venationes (the fights between gladiators and ferocious beasts), the theatre is used since the 1950s for concerts, theatrical performances, and the award ceremony David of Donatello.
Other things to do in Taormina and points of interest are surely the communal villa with the public gardens linked to the name of Lady Florence Trevelyan, the rich Scottish noblewoman who had moved to Taormina in 1884. Created according to her desire as a classic English garden, many species of rare plants and flowers were placed in this park where you can also find the “Victorian follies”, that is unique exotic buildings from which the Lady could observe the birds.
Among other things to do in Taormina, there is the visit to IX April square, from which you could enjoy one of the best views of Taormina. In the middle between the two gates of Taormina, it is the most famous square of Taormina with the clock Tower, many open-air cafés and players of Italian and Sicilian music who make the atmosphere more suggestive. A real terrace on the sea, where you just gaze to the right to admire the Etna and on the left, you can glimpse a partial view of the ancient theatre, this square is undoubtedly one of the must-see Taormina attractions.
For astonishing views, you could think of visiting the sanctuary of Madonna of the Rock, in part excavated into the rocks. From here you can enjoy a magnificent view from above of the village of Taormina including the Greek theatre. And if that’s not enough, you can still go further. A few steps from the sanctuary there is the Saracen Castle dating back to the Arab-Norman period that at the time of the Greeks and Romans represented the acropolis of the city. Positioned at about 398m above sea level, it will seem you to be suspended between heaven and earth.
One of the Taormina attractions is the cathedral of San Nicola in Piazza Duomo. More like a fortress, the building of the church dates back to the XV century, but the main portal of 1636 and the lateral ones of the XV and XVI century testify that the church has undergone several restorations. The interior consists of three naves separated by pink Taormina marble columns which, according to a legend, are derived from the Greek Theatre. Among the most interesting works inside is the Polyptych by Antonello de Saliba, nephew of the famous Antonello da Messina.
In front of the church, you can admire the baroque fountain in the centre of which there is the symbol of the city of Taormina, that is the centaur in a female version that holds the world and the sceptre, symbolizing power.
As you probably already know, Taormina is famous all over the world for its elegance and its luxurious atmosphere which attracted the greatest Italian and international film stars, who certainly were aware of the things to do in Taormina and knew how to make the most of them.
It was the 1960s and Taormina was the earthly paradise of jet-set stars where they loved to spend their summer holidays, do shopping among luxury boutiques, and enjoy the crystal-clear waters of the Ionian Sea. This was the “dolce vita” that attracted artists like Elysabeth Taylor, Cary Grant, Gina Lollobrigida, Audrey Hapburn, Federico Fellini, Woody Allen and Vittorio De Sica. In the years of David of Donatello and the casino, all the great stars of Hollywood passed through Taormina. In these frivolous pastimes, even intellectuals like Picasso and Bertand Russel loved to take part.
The lovers of the good old times will find that one of the most unmissable things to do in Taormina is to walk along Corso Umberto I and enjoy some healthy shopping in the trendiest clothing shops and jewellers of Taormina. But if you want to feel part of a revival of the years of the dolce vita, your best bet will be the Taormina boat tour in the turquoise waters of Isola Bella.
Taormina, city of arts and festivals
The Greek Theater of Taormina also hosts some important events, such as the “Taormina Arte”, a cultural manifestation whose first event is the Taormina Film Fest, the international cinematographic festival. Another important festival is the Taobuk, the International Literature Festival. In 2017 it was the location of the G7, the meeting of leaders of the most industrialized nations.
One of the things to do in Taormina could be to take part in one of the many events and shows at the Greek theatre but remember to get your tickets in advance! Anyway, what draws the attention of the numerous visitors is its staggering landscape that opens up at the highest point of the cavea which also left Goethe ecstatic in 1787. “It must be admitted that never, probably, a theatre audience has seen anything like this.” (Goethe, Italian journey).
During a tour of Taormina, proceeding along the road, you meet the Taormina attractions of Corvaja Palace and the baroque Santa Caterina church. Built in different solutions, Corvaja Palace is a mix of different styles, including Arabic, Norman, Gothic and Catalan, and takes the place of the ancient Greek agora.
The church of Santa Caterina was built over the ruins of a Greek temple probably in honour of the goddess Aphrodite. Behind the church are the ruins of the Roman Odeon.
There is no shortage of things to do in Taormina. As you can see, Taormina is rich of deserving attractions waiting to be visited by you.