Taormina, years after the Grand Tour
Hi nice people! Here is my new article on a place in Sicily that I would like to share with you! This time I take you to Taormina, a city known worldwide, located just above Giardini Naxos, in the province of Messina, but still very close to the province of Catania! 🙂
Taormina was officially founded in 395 BC by the exiles and survivors of the colony of Naxos.
The historical picture is the following: the colonists of Naxos, allied with Athens, clashed against Syracuse, an ally of Sparta, in a battle that ended with the heavy defeat of Naxos in 403 BC.
Dionisio I, tyrant of Syracuse, was implacable: the colony was destroyed and the survivors sold as slaves. The exiles who managed to escape the trafficking took refuge on Mount Tauro where groups of Sicilians lived practicing herding. In this area, around 395 BC, the city of Tauromenium was founded, whose name is inspired by the shape of the mountain on which it lies, with a vague form of a bull.
Peculiarity of this town is that it was an important destination of the Grand Tour starting from 1700. Grand Tour means all the series of trips made by the rich young aristocrats who had the desire to expand their knowledge or draw inspiration for the proliferation of their artistic career.
If you happen to pass by these parts, here’s what you absolutely can’t miss in this precious town!
1 – The teather
Of Hellenistic matrix, what is now seen of the theater of Taormina is the result of a modification that took place under the empire of Augustus and, subsequently, in the 2nd century AD.
With a diameter of 110 meters, an orchestra of 35 meters high and a capacity of 10,000 spectators, the theater of Taormina is the second largest theater in Sicily after the Greek theater in Syracuse.
Due to its considerable size and the wonderful scenery in which it is set, the theater of Taormina is still used both for concerts and for theatrical performances.
2 – Naumachie
Walking around the center of Taormina you can come across Naumachie. Initially it was thought to be an area used as a water circus for the theatrical realization of naval battles, therefore it was given the name of Naumachie, which literally means – precisely – “naval battle”.
Later, it was discovered a huge water tank through excavations. As a result of this it was deduced that these so-called Naumachie were nothing more than an arched Nymphaeum, that is a monumental fountain characterized by showy water features. Inside each arch there must have been a statue, each of which was lost.
3 – Isola Bella
Isola Bella is a small island located at the foot of the promontory where the town of Taormina stands.
Because of its incredible proximity to the coast, it is often joined to the mainland by a small strip of land, which makes it a peninsula.
It was named after a German photographer, Wilhelm von Gloeden, who was surprised by the beauty of the place.
The island passed from hand to hand by several noble families, who took advantage of the area to build their homes, without violating the natural beauty of the place. To give an example, in 1936 the island was bought by the Bosurgi brothers, who built a village with 12 residences and a swimming pool hidden in the rock. Every corner of the island is a discovery and a pleasure at the sight.
This place certainly deserves to be visited at least once in life for its incredible density of beauties, both natural and architectural, compared to the really small dimensions of the island. From 1990 to today it officially belongs to the Sicily Region, while since 1998 it has been established natural reserve, managed by the WWF.
If wheater permits, it is a really advisable experience to take a bath in the beach bordering the island.
If wheater does not allow, don’t worry, you have had however the chance and the honor of walking in one of the most fascinating islands of the Mediterranean Sea.
… To you
Video, subtitled in English: