4. Taormina: A Self-Guided Audio Tour of Sicily’s Hilltop Town
The hilltop town of Taormina is the ideal place to get a sense of the rich blend of cultures that have made Sicily what it is today. From the arrival of the Greeks almost two and half thousand years ago, to the Romans, the Arabs and, eventually, the Spanish, each culture left their own discernible mark on this charming town overlooking Mount Etna, one of the world’s most active volcanoes.
On this walking tour, you’ll have an opportunity to see some of Taormina’s highlights, and to soak up the atmosphere of typical Sicilian life and find out why this little town has so much to offer. Our tour starts in the southern part of the town with magnificent views over Mount Etna and the sea below, at one of the entrances to the original ancient city, Porta Catania. You’ll follow the town’s pedestrianized main street, Corso Umberto, to another original entrance gate, Porta Messina, where our tour ends. On the way, I’ll tell you about the history, archaeology and customs that remain preserved in Taormina. Corso Umberto, with its stores and cafes, is also popular with shoppers and foodies.
At the town’s most beautiful square, Piazza di Duomo, I’ll explain the significance of the statue of a female centaur gazing down from the top of the fountain (Fontana di Piazza Duomo), and tell you how Taormina came to adopt this as the town’s symbol. I’ll point out the ancient and well-preserved Duomo di Taormina, the main church, and show you how the cultures that intermingled over the centuries are reflected in this important monument’s architectural styles.
On this tour, you’ll have a chance to:
• Wander down Vicolo Stretto, the narrowest street in Taormina
• Find out how to correctly order cannoli, a sweet Sicilian delicacy
• Be treated to one of the most captivating panoramas in Sicily at Piazza IX Aprile
• Hear about the building that was once a church and now is a shop where you can also have cooking lessons
• Learn about Palazzo Corvaja, a palace that was built in the 10th century and still inhabited until relatively recent times
• See layers of history at the Church of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, which was built upon the remains of a Roman theatre with an ancient Greek and Roman road beneath it
• Soak up breathtaking panoramic views
By the end of this tour, you’ll have a new appreciation for the heritage, art, and traditions of beautiful Taormina. You’ll also know how to recognize a 15th century palace. Join me on this walk to discover the mix of culture that makes Taormina so interesting, and allow yourself to be surprised at every corner!