“If someone had to spend just one day in Sicily and asked what they needed to see, I would answer without a doubt: Taormina!”
Guy de Maupassant
Taormina, one of the most beautiful cities in Sicily, is located on the east coast of the island, surrounded by truly magical landscapes, on the slopes of Mount Tauros, descending to the sparkling azure waters of two bays. The crown of the amazing landscapes of Taormina is the legendary active volcano Etna. As P. Muratov wrote in his memoirs: “For Taormina, Etna is everything, it occupies half of the local sky.” Initially, Taormina was a settlement of primitive Siculi, who transferred the Greek name Tauromenion (Ταυρομένιον), which arose on the shores of the Ionian Sea, to the shores of Sicily. Further, Tauromenius received the Arabic name Muizia in honor of the Arab emir al-Muiz, and a century later, in 1078, Taormina was conquered by the Normans. In general, the history of Taormina, like other cities of Sicily, consists of numerous transitions of the city from hand to hand, as evidenced by the historical and architectural monuments of the city, representing a variety of cultures and eras. At the end of the 19th century, the German artist Otto Geleng presented the captivating landscapes of Taormina at an exhibition in Paris, which aroused the distrust of visitors, and the European aristocracy went to this Sicilian corner to see for themselves the unusual beauty of its landscapes. Which turned out to be absolutely true. Since that time and to this day, Taormina has been a favorite holiday destination for guests from different countries. Thomas Mann, Oscar Wilde, Richard Wagner, Andre Gide, Richard Strauss, Sigmund Freud, Friedrich Nietzsche have been here.
Taormina is rich not only in amazing nature, but also in many interesting places. Of course, the main attraction of Taormina is the Greek theater or the Theater in Tavromania. The theater was built by the Greeks in the III century. BC. from 100 thousand cubic meters of limestone stone. Spectator seats, designed for 10 thousand people, are facing the sea. Today, the theater functions as before – various concerts and other cultural events are held here, including the Taormina Arte art festival. The city has another other Roman theater – the Odeon, with 200 seats. Another Roman legacy is the Naumachia building, 122 m long with many niches of various sizes. Next to the Greek theater is the archaeological museum – Antiquary, which stores exhibits found during excavations. The Cathedral of San Nicolo was erected in the 15th century, its interior is decorated with a Byzantine mosaic icon depicting the Virgin Mary, as well as a painting by the 15th century artist Antonio Giuffre “The Temptation of Mary”. The Palace of the Dukes of Santa Stefano (Palazzo Duca di Santo Stefano) was built in the 14th century in an original style that combines Sicilian romance and Gothic. Corvaia Palace (Badia Vecchia) is a combination of Byzantine, Arabic and Norman architectural styles, including Europe’s only surviving 11th-century Arab fortress tower. Another ancient palace – Palazzo Corvaja began to be built under Arab rule in the 11th century, and in the 15th century the first Sicilian parliament met in the palace. The main street in Taormina is Corso Umberto. It can be reached through the western Messinian gate – Porta Messina. Corso Umberto is full of shops, cozy cafes with live music and pastry shops. In addition, Taormina is surrounded by picturesque natural reserves and wonderful landscapes, about which Maupassant wrote: “There is nothing here but landscape, but in this landscape you will find everything that exists on earth to captivate the eyes, mind and imagination.”