The beautiful island of Sicily is located off of the Southern tip of Italy. If you enjoy like us visiting picturesque and elegant old towns steeped in ancient history and love Italian food, you will not be disappointed with a trip to Taormina. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay in the Summer of 2017. It certainly ticked all the boxes for us and we would highly recommend it.
The old town of Taormina is situated on a hilltop with spectacular views down to the beach and busy coastal resort and this is where we decided to stay. A cable car carries visitors up to the town however, if like us you don’t mind taking a longer route and a steep hike, there is a lovely quiet footpath as an alternative option.
Taormina is a very chic Sicilian town with amazing buildings. It has some exclusive high end fashion shops which attract Tourists from all around the world. We enjoyed watching the world go by siting in the bars with a Prosecco and a beer people watching in the town square. You will certainly see very stylish Italian people pass by and if you are lucky you may even see a wedding procession.
Accommodation can be very expensive so you have to do your homework and shop around. It did take us quite a while but via booking.com we managed to find a hotel which did not break the bank and we stayed at the Sirius on a bed & breakfast basis which was very stylish and nice. Taormina however is not really a place for a cheap holiday.
Here are our top 5 things to do when you visit Taormina.
A visit to Taormina would not be complete without a visit to the ancient Greek theatre. The site is very well preserved and has spectacular views out to the Calabrian coast and across to the active volcano, Mount Etna. The entry fee of 10 Euros is worth while to capture some great photographs and see this wonderful old historical monument. We were told to get there early in the morning before it gets too busy which turned out to be a good tip.
Trip to Mount Etna
A hike up and around Mount Etna was originally the main reason for our trip to Sicily. After research and checking out recommendations we booked a day tour with Etna People. They were brilliant. The guide who took us to Etna, the lava caves and the wine region for the day was very knowledgeable. Due to the active nature and unpredictability of the volcano and the geological and historical information you can gain we would not recommend you don’t do this trip on your own – definitely book Etna People. Our tour whilst not cheap was actually very good value for money considering what we packed into the day.
We were picked up by a mini bus at the bus station just 5 minutes from our hotel and headed straight to the lava fields and sloops for an amazing hike. We were in awe of the volcano and her commanding presence over the region but on this particular occasion due to a recent spurt of activity we could not go right to the top of the summit near to the crater. After our hike we travelled down to the lava caves and put on our hard hats to explore undergrown which was very interesting.
We were driven around the wine region and taken for a three course lunch at a local vineyard which was lovely. It was great to be served our food and wine by the owner. Our afternoon was spent exploring the area and relaxing by the river gorge.
Godfather Bus Tour
If like us you are fascinated by the 1972 Godfather film and Mafia story definitely walk into town and buy a ticket for the Godfather Bus Tour. We had a great day out exploring the film locations and the headphones and educational commentary on the bus is superb. You can get on and off at various points which allows time to explore the mountain villages and take photos. The tour follows a wonderful scenic route too. Definitely good value for money from memory I think we paid around 35 Euros each.
Taormina to Castelmola Walk
If you are relatively fit definitely use ViewRanger or get a walking map and walk up to the ancient castle called Castelmola which is situated on the hilltop above Taormina. If you prefer there are tour buses which will also take you there. By foot is certainly the best. It will take you around 2 hours to walk up depending on how many times you stop to admire the view and take photos! Once you locate it the path is excellent. Good walking shoes or trainers will be required but hiking boots are not essential. Once at the top you can wander around the narrow streets and visit the ruins. We enjoyed a nice drink and lunch with spectacular views across the region.
Taormina Food Festival – Cibo Nostrum
If you are visiting in the Summer look out for the Taormina food & drink festival weekend event. The streets are lined with stalls representing hotels and restaurants. One hundred and fifty chefs conjure up and showcase an amazing variety of tasty dishes. For 35 Euros each you can wander from stall to stall sampling as much Mediterranean food and wine as you like. We had a great time and tried all sorts of lovely dishes.