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Not only is north east Sicily home to Mount Etna, it also encompasses some of the most beautiful, popular towns on the island as well as a number of the most picturesque beaches.
With its winding medieval streets, historic attractions and stunning backdrop, Taormina is arguably the most enchanting town on the island, honoured for inspiring the works of a several great icons such as Oscar Wilde and D.H. Lawrence.
As soon as you arrive in Taormina, you will feel a magical, mythical atmosphere which has enchanted visitors from all over the world for many years. Set on the hillside of Monte Tauro, Taormina enjoys views over the Straits of Messina to the Italian mainland and also to Mount Etna. It is a very cosmopolitan town with excellent shops, designer boutiques, restaurants and café bars lining cobbled streets and alleys high above the picturesque beaches below. There are several historic attractions including the Greek Theatre which draws artists and tourists from all over the world. The ancient Greeks chose the most spectacular location for their theatre and centuries later, it remains one of the world's most exciting venues.
Taormina is a truly enchanting part of Sicily with the town being rich in atmosphere, history and culture with local delicacies and festivals to experience, while the coastline is enveloped by panoramic views and pretty coves, making Taormina a truly must-visit destination.
The Funivia Cable Car travels between Taormina and Mazzaro
7:45/8:45am-1am every 15 minutes, €3 per person per way (children under 1m free of charge).
Approximately 5km away from the dramatic hillside town of Taormina town, the famous Taormina Mare lies below encompassing the beautiful coves of Mazzaro and Isola Bella. The beaches provide a beautiful setting to relax or take advantage of diving, snorkelling, boat trips, water skiing and various other watersports. Taormina town can be accessed by hotel shuttle or cable car.
Giardini Naxos is a seaside resort in the province of Messina in a bay overlooking the Ionian Sea and lying between Cape Taormina and Cape Schisò. It is a popular Italian holiday resort famous for its beaches, panoramic view of the bay and surrounding hills including Mount Etna. It attracts tourists and Italians alike, many of whom own summer residences and the seafront is lined with hotels, café bars, restaurants and pizzerias.
Lifeguards are provided along the beaches and there are shops, discothèques, karaoke bars, strolling musicians and live music in the evenings. The beautiful town of Taormina is situated in the hills above Giardini Naxos and can be easily accessed by car or shuttle just 6km away.
Described by many as the ‘gateway to Sicily’, the beautiful city of Messina has been a popular trade centre in both ancient and modern times due to the busy thoroughfare between Messina and the Italian mainland. Like many other Sicilian towns and cities, Messina was founded and highly favoured by the Greeks as well as numerous subsequent civilisations due to its strategic location on the north east coast. Today Messina is a vibrant city with a variety of sites to visit such as the 12th century Church of the Annunziata dei Catalani, Chiesa del Carmine, Ganzirri Lake and the Fountain of Neptune. To cross the Straits of Messina into Reggio di Calabria on mainland Italy, the ferries and hydrofoil take between 20 and 30 minutes.
From the port of Milazzo in north east Sicily, it is possible to travel to the Aeolian islands by ferry or hydrofoil. But apart from being the gateway to the Aeolian Islands, Milazzo also has a walled historic city with medieval Norman castle and Museun of the Sea, a Planeta vineyard and olive grove 'La Baronia' at Capo Milazzo and numerous sandy beaches to explore.
This small town is situated 550m above sea level on the northern slope of Mount Etna. The town has a number of architectural sites of interest such as the Mother Church, Church of Sant’Egido Abate, Carmine Church, Convent of Padri Cappuccini, the town museum and public art gallery. Its territory stretches for 58km2 and encompasses numerous valleys, volcanic deserts, grottos and woodlands as well as the beautiful Ragabo forest, making it an ideal location for keen hikers and, during the winter period, skiers.
Calatabiano is situated on the stunning north east coast of the island between the Ionian Sea, Mount Etna and Taormina. It is 3km from the coast, 43km to the cable car at Rifugio Sapienza to access Mount Etna and the cosmopolitan and historic town of Taormina is 7km away. The holiday resort of Giardini Naxos is just 6km and the historic town of Acireale famous for its churches, cathedral, art and paintings is 30km. Calatabiano with its own Arab-Norman Castle is an ideal base to explore the east coast of Sicily.
Fiumefreddo di Sicilia is situated along a river and is largely rural and agricultural, with citrus fruit, flowers and plants being important to the economy, along with tourism and therefore has a selection of shops, cafe bars and restaurants/pizzerias.
Just 3km from Taormina, the beautiful hamlet of Castelmola is widely considered to be one of the most stunning locations in Sicily. With its 13th century castle ruins, winding streets, olde-worlde charm and striking views of the coastline and Mount Etna, Castelmola allows visitors to immerse themselves in the Sicilian culture whilst enjoying the quiet, tranquil atmosphere of a small village. The views surrounding Castelmola rival even those of Taormina, perched approximately 1,800 feet above sea level. There is a small selection of shops, traditional restaurants and bars serving a local wine called Vino alla Mandorla.