Taormina is an iconic place. In Taormina on vacation one frequents because it’s the right thing to do, because it’s fashionable. What draws crowds of tourists here? How does this small city fare in the off-season?
One of the places, or perhaps views, that are so characteristic of Sicily is Taormina’s own view: The Greek Theater, with the sea and Etna in the background. It looks more or less like the picture above…. (more or less, because in place of the clouds you must imagine Etna :-))
Such a one-shot is quintessentially Sicily: here we have an ancient theater, we have the sea that tourists crave in summer, and something for the adventurous – an active volcano. It was for this view that we went to Taormina, and although the view didn’t come out fully postcard-like it was still special, and we just bought a postcard for ourselves.
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Getting to Taormina
We took the fastest route to Taormina – the toll highway from Catania (we paid a symbolic few euros). You can see from the vending machines and gates that the road has already passed its time and could use a refresh, or at least a cleaning before the new season :)
The city is located on a slope and is very tightly built. The main entrance road is a meandering, winding, one-lane street that can be used to reach the multi-story parking lot.Please define valid width and height attributes for remote images. This will also optimize the loading time of the remote panorama.
This road, is the bottleneck of the village – during the season huge traffic jams form here (which de facto already form at the exit from the highway). Fortunately, the Italians thought and took care of parking spaces, so we had no problem and did not have to circulate through the narrow streets this time.
Unfortunately, something for something and it turned out that this was our most expensive parking in Sicily. The parking lot is called Parking Garage Porta Catania and is located just off the main street Corso Umberto from where we started our tour of the city. The location of the parking lot is definitely in plus.
Sightseeing in Taormina
Taormina is a city of luxury vacations and this is where Italians come to indulge in a lavish vacation. Maybe we didn’t spend enough time here, but we didn’t see the opulence and splendor, neither among the visitors nor among the store windows. Admittedly, there are a few boutiques of well-known brands here and some unique jewelry or handicraft stores, but it is nothing like Milan or Rome.
However, this doesn’t bother them, as the traffic jams that form during the season and the crowds on the streets are a golden deal, and merchants roll up their sleeves and jack the prices as high as possible. That’s how optimistic the guide made us :)
Traffic jams were fortunately absent in February, neither were crowds of tourists, but we are able to imagine the place in summer, when restaurants and cafes are open, the street is full of people, and bustle and noise dominate the narrow streets.
Once again, however, we regretted not being at a different time, because there were a lot of interesting places on the main promenade where we would have loved to sit and eat, but most were closed. We consoled ourselves with ice cream, although these were not sensational, and on top of that, expensive. How to live?
What to see while in Taormino?
We entered the main street, Corso Umberto, through Porta Catania, and after a short walk reached the Duomo with its small square and fountain.
Walking further, one reaches a vantage point (Terrazza Sul Mare) at the Chiesa San Giuseppe, from where one can admire the coast.
There are lots of small streets and staircases diverging from Corso Umberto. On one side, they lead down towards the sea, and on the other side, up the stairs, where we can meet many street artists.
We continued walking until we reached Via Teatro Greco, and I guess you can guess where this avenue leads to :)
The well-preserved Greek theater is the biggest attraction of Taormina, and perhaps of all Sicily. Built in the 3rd century BC. (!) is the second largest theater in Sicily (just after Syracuse), but is definitely more spectacularly located.
Traditionally, we pay €10 to enter, and traditionally we have to deal with the stairs somehow. Plus there was one wheelchair ramp, so it’s still not too bad. The good thing, however, was that we had a lightweight stroller that we could easily bring in, and there weren’t that many stairs.
From the theater you have a beautiful view of the coast, and that’s times 2, because when you climb to the very top, you can also see the east coast. Here we had time to sit and just enjoy the view. We sat down for a while and completely lost count of the time! It turned out that the facility was about to close (it was 4 pm), so unfortunately we had to leave this picturesque place.
This is the panorama from below:Please define valid width and height attributes for remote images. This will also optimize the loading time of the remote panorama.
And yes from above :)Please define valid width and height attributes for remote images. This will also optimize the loading time of the remote panorama.
We returned the same way, stopping at least for coffee and something sweet, because it was too late for lunch and too early for dinner. Maybe that’s a good thing, because once again we ended up in an Italian cafe, where we sipped the best Caffè macchiato.
Taormina is a very nice, picturesque town. We spent half a day here, during which we took a leisurely walk along the most characteristic street and saw Taormina’s famous Greek theater.
Would we like to stay here longer? Rather not. It is a place worth going to for a day or two, but the city gives the impression of not being prepared for a larger number of tourists, and in this case, despite the downside of traveling in the off-season, we think we did well to be here in February and not in August :)