Taormina is one of the top destinations for European vacationers and it’s easy to see why. Pebble beaches, cliffside views, and upscale shopping beckon all types of travelers to this quaint locale. After traveling through Sicily, Junior Copywriter Emily is sharing some of the best ways to spend free time in the idyllic town of Taormina.
1. Take a cable car ride to see Isola Bella
Soak in spectacular views by taking the cable car down to Mazzarò and visiting Isola Bella, one of the most beautiful spots in the city. A round-trip ticket from Taormina to Mazzarò costs six euro and is the quickest and easiest way to travel between Taormina’s historic center and the lower town. Isola Bella, meaning beautiful island in Italian, was privately owned by an English woman named Florence Trevelyan until 1990. Her dedication to conservation helped develop and preserve the beauty of the island.
Travelers can visit the island, now a government-protected nature reserve, as the low tides reveal a small, pebble-filled footpath that connects it to the accompanying beach. To snap a few bird’s-eye-view pictures of the gorgeous island, I’d recommend stopping at one of the many outlook points along the main road. Or, if you’re up for an adventure, you can walk about 150 steps down to the rocky shores and walk along the beach and the island.
2. Stroll through the Public Gardens
The Public Gardens, also called the English Gardens, should be at the top of your list of places to visit while in Taormina if you’re looking for a serene park with incredible water vistas. These gardens are another masterpiece in Taormina that flourished under the green thumb of Florence Trevelyan. The winding pathways are lined with wrought-iron benches and a wide variety of flowers brought to Taormina from across the globe.
This was my favorite place in Taormina as it offers a reprieve from the bustling main roads and overlooks the beautiful blue sea below—and it’s the perfect place to enjoy a cup of gelato. Plus, be sure to keep your ears open for local singers. I was lucky enough to hear an opera singer practicing from the archways of the tall stone birdwatching structure while walking through the park.
3. Shop along Corso Umberto
Corso Umberto is the main street in Taormina and is filled with lively restaurants, elegant shops, and beautiful balconies. This half-mile stretch will take you about 15 minutes to walk down, but deserves so much more of your time. The side streets are brimming with even more food and shopping options that make it more than worth it to wander and get lost among the eclectic art and friendly locals.
While there are many high-end designer stores along Corso Umberto, local shopkeepers leave their mark as well. Two can’t-miss stores that I visited while I was in Taormina are Dieffe and Il Sandalo Caprese. Dieffe specializes in menswear and has everything from ties and traditional Sicilian caps, to shoes and handmade button-down shirts. For women’s fashion, be sure to step inside Il Sandalo Caprese where you can purchase custom-made sandals. You’ll get to pick out the color, style, and design of your shoes and they’re the perfect Italian souvenir to take home.
4. Admire views from Piazza IX Aprile
This black- and gray-tiled piazza lies at the end of Corso Umberto and offers panoramic views of the Ionian Sea below and Mount Etna in the distance. Its name comes from a mix of history and legend. The historical roots come from when Giuseppe Garibaldi landed in Marsala, located on Sicily’s western tip, on May 11, 1860 and began his conquest for Italian unification. The legend comes from a rumor that spread throughout Taormina that Garibaldi had landed on April 9. While this was a month ahead of the actual landing, the people celebrated the foreshadowing by naming the main piazza IX Aprile.
If you’re an early bird, head here to watch the sun rise. Since Taormina lies on the eastern end of Sicily, you’ll be able to sit on one of the benches in the piazza and watch as the sky changes color.
Where’s your favorite spot in Taormina? Let us know know in the comments!