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Taormina | The Pearl of the Ionian Sea

Updated: Apr 24


If you watched White Lotus, you might recognize Taormina. This is a town I was told not to miss and one I am glad to have visited. We didn’t stay in the city of Taormina. As much as we would have loved to lodge at the “White Lotus” San Domenico Palace, the $2600 per night was slightly out of reach. Instead, we opted  for the less-expensive. less-touristy, and quieter outskirts. Just 13 KM away, the B&B Villa Valentina was perfect. A nice mountain view, fresh air, and a delicious breakfast were a short car-ride away.

Shortly after checking in, we headed to Taormina.  Along the way, we passed through the town of Naxos, not to be confused with the Greek Island. The city of Taormina is located on the top of a hill with sweeping views of the sea. We stayed until shortly after sunset. 

The town square has beautiful buildings and a 600 year old fountain that spits water from a mythological creature’s mouth.

It takes me months, sometimes several, to edit photos and to post my blog. I am always amazed when I see someone who is posting live.

We started off our second day in Taormina with a drive to the Castello Di Calatabiano. There we took a funicular to the top of the hill and visited the first church of Calatbiano, Chiesa SS Crocifisso, built in 1484.

Every year, on the Saturday before the 3rd Sunday in May, during the 3rd mass, the effigy of San Filipo is carried out of the church, down the hill and through the streets of the Village of Alcantara Park.

On the same hill is the Castello Di Calatabiano. While this castle was built by the Arabs in the 10th century, there is evidence that the site has been inhabited continuously from the time of the Ancient Greeks until the catastrophic earthquake of 1693. 

These ruins whet our appetite for more and so we headed back to Taormina to see the Hellenic Theater. Dating back to the 3rd century BC, it remains a performance venue. 

Hard to believe we were not in Greece with the number of ruins that we visited.

We dropped in for a bite at a family run restaurant called Osteria de Rita providing a the perfect setting for our delicious lunch.

Afterwards, we drove to the Porta Pasquale and walked along Via Guardiola Vecchia until the Belvedere di Via Pirandello viewpoint.

From there we could see  Isola Bella Beach.

We decided to keep our car parked by the viewpoint since we had already paid to park it and went for a walk. As we walked further up the hill, we noticed a town and were struck with a sense of deja vu. 

The first thing we noticed was an arch serving as an entrance to the town. Viale S. Pancrazio where we saw the Porta Messina. I felt like I had been there before. It looked remarkably like Taormina. My husband suggested that places might look similar because they were built around the same time in the same architectural style. I said “Well, this really looks like one of the archways in Taormina”. It was so weird that two towns could be so much alike.

Alleyway stairs lined with potted plants and decorative items | A place where restaurants serve their patrons.

I Malavoglia was the first of 5 narrative works by author Giovanni Vespa. In 2022 a centennial celebration of his life was celebrated and the mural below is in homage to him.

The juxtaposition of old and new is not an uncommon sight. Here you can see a clock tower from the 12th century butted against modern buildings

My husband made fun of me until we passed the stores with strangely familiar shopkeepers and the Re de Bastoni Pub with its colorful benches. It was then that we realized we were in Taormina again, just from another direction. I really didn’t mind because it is hard to get too much of this town, plus I got the last laugh.

We hope you enjoyed your virtual visit to Taormina | The Pearl of the Ionian Sea (and the surrounding area) and that you join us when we go to Cefalu in our next blog segment

To see more photos of Taormina, Sicily

To see more photographs of Sicily, please visit:

To continue reading about our recent trip to Sicily by way of Rome please look for our next segment - Cefalu | A Seaside Spot

If you missed Syracuse| Siracusa

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