Italy,  Sicily,  Taormina

My Very Personal Love Affair with Taormina, Sicily!

In my last article, Last Day in Paris, I promised you that I would share my favorite place in the world, and here it is- Taormina, Sicily! I started going to Taormina about a decade and a half ago. It was most definitely, “love at first sight”! I’m continuously drawn to the Mediterranean- in fact, I live in the Med area,  but there is just something different about Taormina. Different, in a way, I can only strive to describe to you. My hope as I write is that I  can capture its essence for you because Taormina is truly a fabulous and definitely unforgettable city, located on the east coast of Sicily and part of the province of Messina.


The history of Taormina dates back to before Ancient Greece established its first colony in Sicily in 734 BCE. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Taormina continued to rank as one of the more important towns on the island. After World War II, Taormina and the rest of the area gradually began to attract tourists. Today it remains a very relevant tourist destination and is a popular destination on cruise ship itineraries.


You Have to Have Transportation to Get There!

To reach the town of Taormina which sits on a cliff overlooking the Ionian Sea, about 250 meters above the sea, you must go by vehicle. There is also a cable car from the beach at Mazarron. Once there, since Taormina is the main part of the city is “pedestrian only” you will be dropped outside the city gates. Besides the ancient Greek theatre, it has many old churches, lively bars, fine restaurants, and antique shops.  One of my favorite cafes is Cafe Wunderbar, originally founded in 1870 as an inn and made popular by the past visits of Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Greta Garbo, Tennessee Williams, Cary Grant, and Gregory Peck. 


The Beautiful Views From Cafe Wunderbar!

Seeing and Experiencing Taormina:

The Santuario Madonna Della Rocca is one such church. Located on the slope above the town, it offers an impressive view of the coast and Mount Etna to the south and is accessible on foot via the staired path, Salita Castello. Taormina is about a forty-five-minute drive away from Mount Etna, Europe’s largest and most impressive active volcano. I’ve been to Taormina when Mount Etna has been semi-active with plumes of smoke billowing from its crater and it’s a pretty cool sight to see!

You Definitely Need Transportation to Get to Taormina!

Piazza Duomo is the main square and sits about the center of Corso Umberto, the main road, between the gates at each end of the city. I have such fond memories of sitting at Cafe Wunderbar, overlooking the cliffs and magnificent sea, drinking a cappuccino while listening to buskers as they serenade the crowds, a delightfully, almost holy experience!

Corso Umberto and Piazza Duomo

The Public Gardens:

The high-end shopping and sites are to die for in Taormina. The Limoncello is absolutely spectacular! Honestly, there is one thing that amazes me that being the Public Gardens, La Villa, in Taormina doesn’t rank on any “must-do, must-see” travel sites! The garden designed by Florence Trevelyan Cacciola, a Scot who left England followed by her romantic love here is lovely, spectacular, fabu-u-loso! There aren’t enough adjectives, in any language,  to describe the beauty, the serenity, and the strategically set benches overlooking the sea! I stumbled upon the gardens in 2010, walking off the beaten path, looking for God-knows-what, and every time I return to Taormina, I go back and just sit; immersing myself in the sea air; the quiet, the beauty, the sculpted flora! Am I the only one in the world that seeks this kind of refuge? This kind of quiet, understated beauty? Someone, please fill me in! Ok, rant, done! When you visit Taormina, please do yourself a favor and hunt down La Villa!

Finding My Way Back to the Public Gardens
The Buskers of taormina! Afternoon Seranade in Pizza Duomo

In the springtime and summer, when the thousands of bougainvillea are in bloom, the entire city has an aroma you will never get out of your head!

Thousands of Bouganvillea

Location of the Public Gardens

The Beautiful Public Gardens


Teatro Greco:

Another must-see is Teatro Greco – an impressive open-air (mainly Roman) theatre. It offers great views up and down the coast and across to Mount Etna. It is a Roman- Greco theatre seating about 10,000 with a diameter of 107 meters,  built-in, it is believed, in the 3rd century BC. Sitting just outside of town, it is quite lovely and remarkedly well-preserved!  Teatro Greco is not just another ancient European amphitheater with its rich history, the location with an amazing view of Mount Etna. It’s a destination you will long to return to over and over.

Teatro Greco With Mount Etna in the Background

I think my attraction to Taormina is like being “in love”- you know you are, but you just can’t quite put your finger on “the why”! Is it one thing? A culmination of the whole picture? It’s a feeling; an all-consuming feeling; a feeling like no other!  Every time I leave Taormina, I get tears in my eyes. Why? I don’t know because, I know, I will return; I always do.  Yet, I can’t help myself. There is something, mysterious, unspoken, that tells me this is MY special place on earth. Have you ever visited a place that touches your heart like this? If you have, please share. I’m terribly curious if it’s just me or if the magic exists for others as well!


Watch this video for a wonderful overview of Taormina:

Sun God
The Sun God of Taormina
Sun god
My Cheesy Souvenir from Taormina!


Visit Taormina, or any destination for that matter, slowly. I know the pressure of feeling like you have to see it all and have experienced the pressure of trying to take it all in. But, trust me, you won’t, no matter where you travel, on your first visit, so plan a return visit. Soak it in. Don’t look at the price tags (yes, it can be expensive), have a coffee or a bite to eat. Just immerse yourself in the city and the sea breeze- the sights, sounds, and smells of wherever you are in the world. Allow your mind to slow down and unwind. Buy a cheesy souvenir or two ( my cheesy souvenir is a wind chime of Nika, the Sun God. To this day, hangs on my veranda). Be thankful that you have been given the opportunity to visit such a lovely, unforgettable place. Feel the freedom, the gift you receive from travel. If you can do this, my friends, then you would be living Mallory’s Dream!

So, until next time, my friends, remember” To Travel is to Live!”



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