Taormina is a coastal city located in the metropolitan area of Messina, in Sicily. Its territory overlooks the Ionian Sea and extends along the coast from Capo Sant’Andrea to Capo Taormina, where there are beautiful and internationally renowned beaches such as Mazzarò, Lido di Taormina and Isola Bella
Taormina was inhabited since the archaic era, by the Sicilians and the inhabitants of “Zancle” (modern Messina). The Sicilians (traditionally called “Sikeloi” from the name of a legendary king Sikelòs) were an indoeuropean population of Italic origin (protolatins): they reached Sicily from the continent around the 13th century AC, and outcompeted the previous inhabitants, the Sicanes (probably of Phoenician origin, but living in Sicily since the Bronze age) establishing (approx.. 1000 BC) their kingdom that encompassed the south-eastern part of Sicily. The original name of the city was Tauromenion, from the “Mount Tauros” (=Bull) on which it was first built. In 403 BC the city saw another immigration from nearby Naxos, destroyed by Dionisius, tyrant of Syracuse. Later it was occupied by the Greeks, but in 34 AC became a federated city of the Romans when Octavian founded a colony there.
In the Middle Ages it fell (902-963) under Arab dominations but in 1079 it was occupied by the Normans, who built numerous Basilian monasteries in the area. The Normans, following their policy of “benign dominating elite”, addressed the problem of healing the wounds of decades of war. And did so with great success, proving to be one of the most enlightened dynasties of the time and prompting a new era of prosperity for Sicily. At later times, the “kingdom of Sicily” to which Taormina belonged was governed by the Hohenstauffen (Svevians) and by the Aragonese dinasties.
The local population actively participated in the so-called Vespers War (1282), supporting the Aragonese contender; after a brief French occupation, the city remained under Spanish governments, until in 1734 it became part of the “Reign of the two Sicilies” as the Borbons unified the Reign of Naples with the older Reign of Sicily. The Expedition of the Thousand in 1860 organised and led by Giuseppe Garibaldi brought about the later annexation of Sicily to Piedmont and therefore, to the Kingdom of Italy.
The economy of the modern Taormina is mainly linked to tourism, both seaside and cultural; therefore it is active all year round. Traditional activities, agriculture and fishing, are accompanied by the presence of industry, which still represents an important share of the local economy.
The typical gastronomic offer of Taormina is very varied, but the best specialties are based on fish, like the typical pasta with swordfish, linguine with lobster and sea urchins, mixed grills and fish soups, turbot fillet with black truffle and herbs or with asparagus tips.
The desserts in Taormina are special, the most renowned are: gianduia and coffee profiterols and almond and pistachio “semifreddo”. The characteristic almond wine is also excellent. The town hosts several events all year round, such as the Sicilian Cart Festival, the Festa della Madonna della Rocca, the evocative rites of Holy Week and Piazza Jazz in Piazza Armerina. Naturally the best known is the Taormina Film Fest, held in July.
Taormina tourist information
There is a tourist information office on the ground floor of Palazzo Corvaja, by Piazza Vittorio Emanuele. It’s also worth trying to obtain a map or studying the information they have pinned to their walls. Doing some online research and printing out/downloading relevant timetables is good preparation for a trip. Commercial businesses such as hotels and restaurants are traditionally helpful in every way.
In the sea, a throbbing liquid crystal of blue and dark green, Isolabella, almost in front of Mazzarò, a clot of rock densely cloaked in vegetation, increases the charm of the coast of Taormina. At Capo Sant’Andrea by boat you can get to very beautiful sea caves. Those who love underwater activity can visit the caves and cracks in the Taormina coast, which is rich in Gorgonias and polychaete worms. We must particularly mention the Zi’ Gennaro rock in front of Capo Sant’Andrea, which is a true spectacle: here the seabed does not go down to below 10 metres, but towards the open sea it suddenly falls to 45 metres. Leaving the blue sea off Taormina, with our eyes still full of the colours and dreamy atmospheres of this place, we get ready to dip into the sea of Giardini Naxos. To an ear that is not Sicilian, the term “Giardini” immediately evokes a green place cultivated with flowers, but the name of the village derives rather from the Sicilian iardìni, meaning citrus orchards, which the area is rich in, while “Naxos” derives from the name of the first Greek colony in Sicily, in whose territory today’s village rose. Naxos was founded in 735 BC near the bay of Schisò, by Chalcidians that were struck by the enchanting landscape, situated amid sea, fertile hills and the sacred snow-covered mountain (Etna), the forge of the god Hephaestus. Right from the start the settlement enjoyed religious prominence over the other colonies on the island since here there was the altar of Apollo Archegétes, the god protecting Greek colonization in Sicily. With these premises, it is inevitable, for anyone coming to Giardini Naxos, to make a visit to the big archaeological area, where it is possible to admire the remains of a temple from the 5th century BC and some graves from the Bronze Age, at the nearby museum. Among the many monuments we will also mention Schisò castle and the Vignazza tower, both from the medieval epoch, and the fascinating remains of a fort from the 17th-18th century, inside which some archaeological items of undeniable interest are preserved. A little south of Giardini Naxos, nature lovers will be happy to venture along the river environment of the Alcantara Gorges, which are characterized by Mediterranean maquis and in which there are numerous spontaneous flowers, among which you can observe numerous splendid orchids.
How to get to Giardini Naxos and Taormina
A18 Messina-Catania motorway, Taormina and Giardini Naxos exits. From Catania about 43 km for Giardini Naxos and about 51 km for Taormina. From Messina about 56 km for Giardini Naxos and 53 km for Taormina.
For more information regarding Giardini Naxos please visit this link: https://www.italyheaven.co.uk/sicily/giardini-naxos.html
UNAHOTELS Naxos Beach Sicilia
Price for ECOS participants (per night, breakfast included):
Twin € 122,00Dus € 115,00*
Reservations must be made ONLY online at:
(please make specific reference to ECOS 2021 when accessing site)
Above discounted prices are valid for reservations completed on or before 18.06.21 and for a 3 nights minimum stay. There will be an additional City Tax of 2 € per person per night (children under 14 yr of age exempt).
Please check Hotel site for further details