Taormina is a beautiful mountainside town on the northeast side of Sicily that is known as a tourist mecca because of its multitude of activities and stunning ocean & mountain views. And that description is exactly right. The sights of this area are unbeatable. Our hotel is just one example of the amazing ocean and cliff views that you can find throughout this city.
The city is nestled into bays and bluffs on the downslopes of Mt Etna so you get lots of rocky outcroppings and steep bluffs that drop off into the bright blue ocean. There is an upper and lower portion of the city. All the beach access hotels and resorts are located on the lower portion of the city and are accessible by car, train or foot. The nightlife, restaurants and shopping (as well as some ruins) are all located on the upper portion of Taormina. You can get in between the two by car if you’re not scared of driving on blind hairpin turns. If that isn’t your cup of tea, there is a cheap and easy-to-use gondola that connects the two.
Since our hotel was on the beachfront, we decided to spend the afternoon exploring the upper town. The streets are narrow and filled with al the makings for a tourist in town. Lots of shops, gelaterias, restaurants and hotels. But, it was a little too touristy for my taste. It had an inauthentic feeling when compared to the quaint and delightful Siracusa. There were lots of designer boutiques, souvenir shops and typical restaurants lining the Main Square and roads, with the stereotypical Italian music blasting from store fronts and for-hire bands. If this had been my only stop in Sicily, I probably would have loved the city. But since it felt so curated for a tourist’s desires, it wasn’t quite for me.
With that said, the ruins of the Roman-Greco theatre were a highlight for me. They are comfortably situated on the bluffs over looking the city, just to the east of the main area. Easily accessed by foot, the 8 euro entrance fee is well worth the views you will see. We time it perfectly and arrived around sunset. You climb up the steps of the theatre to the very top and are greet by views of the bay, city and Mount Etna. It is breathtaking. The Greek columns and amphitheater steps are well maintained, and with 360 views of beautiful scenery, this is a photographer’s delight The theatre is still in use today and we actually got to see a rehearsal of a fashion show during our visit.