Taormina, a most beautiful place in Sicily. Italy.

MySlowTrip - Italy Sicily Taormina

Nestled to the clifftops of the Eastern Sicilian coast lies Taormina.

Against the backdrop of mount Etna – Europe’s highest active Volcano (3,357m) – on the one side and the deep blue sea down below on the other side. The altitude is such that a cable car leads the way down from the historic City Centre to the Beaches with the beautiful Isola Bella.

History began when the Greek started to settle here nearly 3000 years ago. It is the Land of Myth and legend stories of the titans’ Greek mythology. It was in neighbouring Naxos, where Dionysus (son of Zeus) sowed a plant that later resulted in Sicily’s first vineyard.

The world famous Amphitheatre was where the Greek originally performed dramas and music. It was designed as such that all 5,400 spectators could watch clearly and hear well wherever they were seated. After the Punic Wars in the 2nd century BC, the Romans annexed Sicily and the theatre was converted by the Romans to host gladiator games. The lower seat rows had to go in order to protect the audience from the wild beasts fighting the gladiators in the arena.

What a mystic moment. The evening air is still warm, there is a slight, gentle breeze at end of October. The cathedral is under full moon. The origins of the “Duomo di Taormina” date back to the thirteenth century. The construction is made entirely with large stone blocks.

Since the beginning of the 19th century, Taormina has been a destination for the rich, beautiful and intellectual. It was the final destination in Italy on “The Grand Tour”, a several  years long educational journey through Italy by British, French, and German aristocrats. Great writers and poets came here as well, such as Wolfgang Goethe, Germany’s most famous poet.

The Villa Comunale in the “City Gardens” was once owned by the eccentric Lady Trevelyan, who built several extraordinary pavilions for her animals, especially for the purpose of bird habitat conservation. Strolling through the Park surrounding the Villa (Giardino Pubblico – Public Park) offers a wide variety of vegetation and great views over the sea.

The day I left this wonderful place, Mount Etna erupted after more than two decades of inactivity. Just two days earlier I had tramped through the black lava sand there, which felt like walking on the surface of the moon. Call this perfect or unlucky timing, whichever way you look at it.