Explore the historical allure of Sicily’s sumptuous open air museum. The Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals, Ostrogoths, Longobards, Byzantines and Arabs have contributed to Sicily’s polyglot heritage and cultural splendor. These contributions are reflected in Sicily’s art, architecture and cuisine.
Taormina (www.comune.taormina.it) is Sicily’s favorite resort town with plenty of beaches with many Vino con Vista opportunities. It is located in the Messina province. The east coast of Sicily overlooks the Ionian Sea and is considered part of the Ionian Riviera.
Taormina has inspired many famous authors. D.H. Lawrence wrote the erotic and scandalous book, Lady Chatterly’s Lover in 1928. This story involved an aristocratic English woman’s affair in Taormina. She was married to a wheelchair-bound World War I hero. Goethe recorded his love of Sicily in his travel diary in 1787, Journey to Italy. He stated, “To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is not to have seen Italy at all, for Siciy is the clue to everything.”
This beach town is a haven for sun worshippers. Take the funicular (motorized lift) to the beach or hop on a cable car to Mazzaro and enjoy the Isola Bella Beach and nature reserve. Travel to Giardini Naxos to view the excavations of Sicily’s first Greek colony http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmWVpfz0wgs&feature=related. This seaside resort has a great beach and is loaded with cafes and bars.
The Alcantara Gorge is outside Taormina. Go for a boat ride to see waterfalls and remnants of Mt. Etna’s lava flow from about 1000 years ago; fascinating cliffs were formed by incisions cut into the volcanic rock.
The Greco-Roman Theater is well preserved in Taormina; built by the Greeks in 300 B.C. and remodeled and enlarged by the Romans. It is the second-largest ancient theater on the island. Visit Siracusa to see the largest one. The Greco-Roman amphitheater is carved out of the hillside and has a panoramic view of Calabria and Mt. Etna. It is amazing to watch some of the summer performances that are still offered in this 3rd century B.C. theater. In June, the theater is the venue for the Taormina Film Festival.
As you stroll along Corso Umberto you will find charming cafes and restaurants. Head over to Piazza IX Aprile, the main square of Taormina. Visit the 13th century fortress-like Cathedral of San Nicolo embellished with an 16th century rose window and massive bronze doors.
Visit the church of Santa Caterina d’Alessandria with a Baroque interior built over a Hellenistic temple. Inside the church, the ruins of the ancient temple can be seen under the floor. Try to catch one of the local weddings that seem to take place daily.
Taormina’s lovely municipal gardens were designed by Florence Trevelyan and other women from England in the early 1920s. They are meticulously landscaped with beautiful structures, statues and fountains.
To learn more about Sicily read www.vino-con-vista.com Travel Guides and