Taormina

Set on the stunning island of Sicily, Taormina enjoys quite possibly the most amazing stance of any town on that beautiful island. Perched like an eagle on an amazing, rocky escarpment overlooking the glittering blue hue of the Mediterranean, Taormina has beguiled visitors for generations, and little wonder, too.

The view of the horseshoe bay below is worth the journey, but be advised that it is a very steep climb from the port below, and should be taken only by taxi, or as part of a guided tour.

The top sight has to be the vaulting remains of the eighth century, Greco-Roman theatre that overlooks the sea. Approached through a vista of verdant pine trees, it features an amazingly well preserved amphitheater that actually seems to float over the sea. It is still used for alfresco summer concerts to this day. Around it, stunted Doric columns glint eerily in the mid day sun, recalling the days of the dissolute Roman Empire. It has possibly the most stunning backdrop anywhere in Europe.

The town of Taormina itself is a people watcher’s paradise. Bars, restaurants and cafes spill out from the area around the old cathedral, in Piazza Duomo. There’s a gorgeous, ornamental fountain here too.  The 1676 built clock tower is a replacement for an original, built as far back as the twelfth century.

Lots of long, winding lanes full of Italianate buildings fan out from the centre, with window shutters in shades of electric blue, green and terracotta. Lines of washing flap lethargically between the houses here. Dogs snooze in the shade as motor scooters swarm around like maddened ants.

The shopping is extensive here, and you’ll find no shortage of inviting places to linger over a cappuccino, a delicious gelato, or even both. This is la dolce vita raised to the level of an art form.

You should also seen the intricate, beautiful San Domenico monastery. Dating back to 1430 and heavily damaged during the Second World War, the sympathetically restored building has now been converted into a hotel. It also offers marvellous views out over the spectacular scenery.

Most cruise ships anchor in the bay of the town of Giardini Naxos. Passengers come ashore via tender. Transfer time by tender and taxi- you’ll find these on the quayside- is around twenty minutes in either direction.

If you’d prefer not to take the journey uphill, Giardini Naxos itself has a nice sand beach, and a wonderful seaside promenade, with many bars and restaurants.

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