Friday 16 August 2013

Taormina, Sicily

Although it can be over-run with tourists in August, the elegant old town of Taormina manages to maintain a certain dignity and charm. Bookended by ancient stone gates, Corso Umberto, the main thoroughfare of the historic core, is mostly pedestrianised and lined with upmarket shops and restaurants occupying grand old houses with cast iron balconies and imposing wooden doors. Steep narrow alleyways lead off the main drag, inviting you to explore more restaurants, shops and bars tucked into the nooks and crannies. Before too long, the shops give way to the airy, tree-lined Piazza IX Aprile offering fine views of the sea far below and the cream facade of a handsome old church with a striking conical bell tower. At the far end of the square is another medieval stone gate complete with a rectangular clock tower. Beyond this gate are more elegant period buildings and a pretty little square, where you can sit on the circular steps of the grand stone fountain and admire the town's venerable thirteenth century Duomo. At the end of Corso Umberto, is a small, but well-maintained, park with stone benches and far-reaching views of the sea - a good place for an ice-cream stop. Once you have strolled back through the town and through the north gate, head south east down to the town's atmospheric Greco-Roman amphitheatre, which offers memorable views of Mount Etna and Sicily's east coast.  8/10
Taormina's thirteenth century Duomo

The Corso Umberto, Taormina