Luxury travel guide to Taormina: Where to stay, eat and what to see and do
As winter descends and the evenings get darker by the day, it can be tempting to escape it all and head off in search of sunnier climes. And if you’re already looking ahead to 2019 and dreaming of that long, hot summer getaway, the chances are that you are not the only one.
With a plethora of picturesque and culture-packed travel destinations to choose from across the globe, it can be tough to zero in on just where to head to next – but Sicily is one place that deserves to be high up on your list.
Sicily is the largest Mediterranean island and as German writer Goethe said in 1787, “To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is not to have seen Italy at all.” The city of Taormina in particular is picturesque; with its incredible views extending all the way down to the turquoise water, its polished, well-kept setting across the city, and the fashionable people one sees around the city. In its unique setting, perched on top of a hill at the base of Mount Etna, there is plenty to do in both Taormina itself and the surrounding areas – but it is a destination known more for ‘seeing’ and taking in the spectacular views than for ‘doing’ and adventuring.
As Ernest Hemingway once said, Taormina is truly “so pretty it hurts to look”. With all its beauty, it makes for a breathtaking spot to enjoy a luxury vacation and enjoy life in Sicily. It even attracted the global world leaders, as it hosted the recent G7 summit.
If Taormina is on your travel hit list for 2019, then read on to find out where to stay, where to eat and what to do. And if it’s not, then we guarantee that it soon will be.
Where to stay
There are a variety of opulent accommodation choices for luxury seekers in Taormina – whether you’re looking for a five-star hotel, or something a little more private. In Sicily, as well as other Italian seaside locations, many people rent out their private holiday homes, giving visitors the chance to select one of the many luxury villas in Sicily for rent. Using online tools like Wishsicily is the best way to find the perfect deal. As an added benefit, staying at a villa offers guests true insight into what it’s really like to live in Sicily, and all the privacy and space you could want to relax and unwind in after an exciting day out seeing the sights.
There are also plenty of hotels and B&Bs on offer, so choose the part of the city you would like to stay in carefully to ensure you get to enjoy the very best views throughout your stay. Since you are in Sicily after all, it is highly recommended to pick a place by the sea so you can slip into the life and relaxation that comes with being on an island. There are few better ways to destress!
What to eat
The cuisine in Sicily is fresh, flavourful and unique to the island. Sicily was colonised by Greeks, Normans, Byzantines, Arabs and Spanish, and the influence of this can certainly be felt even through its food.
Spaghetti alla Norma is a favourite traditional dish and is made with a sauce of tomatoes, fried eggplant, basil, and pecorino. Other Sicilian foods try to try are fresh seafood, pasta con le sarde (macaroni with sardines, raisins and pine nuts), arancini, (fried rice balls), caponata (an eggplant dish), any item made with the famously and locally-harvested pistachio, cannoli, and the fresh lemon granita. Delicious!
When it comes to Sicilian wine, any time you eat out you will have no trouble finding the perfect local wine to pair with your meal. House wine is surprisingly good quality, and you can often hear the story of how it was made, where it was made, and who made it – but for those who enjoy the finer things in life, there are plenty of pricier options that are certain to impress. Keep an eye out for Novello, Marsala and Malvasia for a sweet wine.
What to see and do
While Taormina is known for all the beauty you can see and experience, there is also plenty to do while there. The Greek theatre (Teatro Greco) located at the end of Via Teatro is a must see, and is a site that draws visiting travelers from all over Sicily. Though it was founded by Greeks in the third century BC and is officially named Teatro Greco, the remains found at the site are indeed almost all Roman, and it is open daily from 9am to one hour before sunset, with admission priced at €10 per person.
For a view of the amphitheater, head to Madonna della Rocca chapel. Meanwhile, in the center of Taormina, you’ll find the Museo Siciliano di Arte e Tradizione Popolari located in the 14th-century Palazzo Corvaja. Open Tuesday through Sunday, 9am to 1pm and 4pm to 8pm, it’s a must for art and history lovers – and once you’re done, you can head to the hilltop town of Savoca, north of Taormina, to visit the Bar Vitelli, famous for both its granita and being where scenes from The Godfather were shot.
Between long lunches, aperitivi and enjoying leisurely strolls through town, visit the market in Piazza Duomo, and wander the city to find your own favorite lookout spots. There are plenty to be uncovered, if only you look hard enough – and they’re great for taking photos, too.
Taormina offers the perfect mix of nature, history, the seaside and incredible food, and there really is something for everyone. So if you’re unsure where to pick for your next luxury getaway, then this place promises not to disappoint.