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.
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.
In this province of Messina Sicily, I love the well-preserved Greco-Roman Theater 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 historic Greco-Roman amphitheater is carved out of the hillside and has a panoramic view of Calabria and Mt. Etna. It has a natural terrace, overlooking the sea. 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. The 60th annual Taormina Film Fest will take place from June 14th to 21st, in the with stars like Melanie Griffith, Eva Longoria, Isabella Ferrari, Valeria Solarino, and Vittoria Puccini, the Taormina Film Fest celebrated his sixtieth birthday with a “festival entirely dedicated to women, featuring Claudia Cardinale, the muse of Visconti, Fellini and Sergio Leone, as the godmother of the event.” You can attend screenings and previews. On June 17th there will be a tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman.
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