Taormina…

…between Legends & Myths.


Sicily’s history is made up of a rich tapestry of cultural influences. The ancient Greeks, Byzantine and Romans have all left their architectural mark on the town as have the Arab, Norman and European conquerors. Winding, romantic streets are lined with picturesque, restored buildings, mansions and churches – Taormina is a window to Sicily’s past.


“Tauromenium” means residence on the Taurus, the mountain where the city was built by Greek people. According to legend, however, the place was inhabited by a Minotaur or, better still, by a Centaur named Taurus, as a figure in ancient coins of the city, to which is attributed the foundation and the first name of the city. Another tradition recalls how two princes of Palestine, Taurus and Mena, founded the city, giving it the name Tauromena.

The city, situated on a height of 205mt above sea level, was an impregnable place, because three sides of it were made up of frightening ravines, which plunged directly into the sea. Despite this, the Tauromenities, for a safer defense of the polis, added mighty walls on the North and South sides, following the Hellenic defensive system, which included triple curtain walls and only two points of access to the city. Still today the walls are visible and there are the ancient gates of the city.

In 212 BC Tauromenium, in order to avoid being destroyed and sacked as Syracuse, started a policy of friendship towards Rome and then was submitted. With this act the period of maximum splendor of Greek civilization in Sicily ceased to exist. “Cesare Ottaviano” made Taormina a Roman colony, leaving many of its inhabitants away from the city and populating it with Roman families. Attracted by the beauty and mild climate, many consuls who withdrew from public life chose it as a resting place.


The Greek Theater

The diamond in the crown of Taormina’s historical sights, the “Teatro Greco” is an ancient amphitheater, perched on the hill with a breath-taking, panoramic view our over the sparkling sea, the Naxos bay and the towering Mount Etna. Constructed in the third century BC, it is built from bricks of Taormina stone and is one of the largest of its kind in Sicily.

It is thought that in Roman times the theater was extended, though the seats still bear Greek inscriptions. During the summer, one of the many festivals in Taormina takes place here, showcasing a variety of films, theater, dance and music productions – all set against the backdrop of that glorious view.


The Old Town center

A couple of hundred years ago, when the first holiday-makers crossed the “Stretto di Messina” between Sicily and mainland Italy in search of a relaxing new escape, the town of Taormina fast became the darling destination of European socialites. As the word spread, this inspirational town became a muse to writers and artists from Oscar Wilde to Gustav Klimt – here in the present day, it has now earned a reputation for being one of the most popular towns in Sicily.

The medieval streets of Taormina sprawl out in a spider-web from the main thoroughfare, “Corso Umberto I”. This vibrant, pedestrianized street stretches from the “Piazza Corvaja” to the “Piazza Duomo” and often comes alive with musicians, street performers and people sitting, chatting, drinking and watching the world go by.

Sophisticated boutiques and jewelry stores line the main drag whilst myriad of cafes, bars and restaurants wait in the winding lanes, begging to be explored.


https://youtu.be/sqO78f0K6C0

Thanks FL-Media for this short, yet fun and dynamic video. It perfectly summarizes the thrive and vibe this place can infect you with. ^_^

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