Visiting Beautiful Taormina
A tourist destination since the 19th Century and it’s popular beaches (accessible via an aerial tramway) on the Ionian sea are not to be missed. The village of Taormina is perched on a cliff overlooking the Ionian sea. Besides the ancient Greek theatre, it has many old churches, lively bars, fine restaurants, and antique shops. Taormina is approximately a forty-five minute drive away from Europe’s largest active volcano, Mount Etna.
Taormina’s area was inhabited even before the Greeks arrived on the Sicilian coast in 832 BC to found a town called Naxos. It passed under the government of Rome when the whole island of Sicily was reduced to a Roman province. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Taormina continued to rank as one of the more important towns of Sicily, and because of the strength of its position was one of the last places that was retained by the Eastern Roman emperors; but it was taken by the Arabs in 902 after a siege of two years. Taormina was renamed “Al-Muizzia” which lasted until 1078, when it was captured by the Normans and then the French.
Starting from the 19th century Taormina
became a popular tourist resort in the whole of Europe: people who vacationed here include Oscar Wilde, Nicholas I of Russia, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Nietzsche, Richard Wagner and many others. Also credited for making Taormina popular was Otto Geleng, best known in his hometown of Berlin for his fine paintings, which he composed and painted in Italy but exhibited in Germany. What distinguishes Geleng, however, is his choice to depict the more southern regions where he captured the spectacular views and light of Sicily.of the winter. Geleng began to paint everything that Taormina offered: ruins, sea, mountains, none of which were familiar to the rest of Europe. When his paintings were later exhibited in Berlin and Paris, many critics accused Geleng of having an ‘unbridled imagination’. At that, Geleng challenged them all to go to Taormina with him, promising that he would pay everyone’s expenses if he were not telling the truth.
During the early 20th century the town became a colony of expatriate artists, writers, and intellectuals. D. H. Lawrence stayed here and wrote a number of his poems, novels, short stories, and essays, and a travel book, Sea and Sardinia. Thirty years later the same villa was home to Truman Capote, who wrote of his stay in the essay “Fontana Vecchia.”
The present town of Taormina occupies the ancient site
On a lofty hill which forms the last projecting point of the mountain ridge that extends along the coast from Cape Pelorus to this point. The most remarkable monument remaining at Taormina is the Ancient theatre, which is one of the most celebrated ruins in Sicily, on account both of its remarkable preservation and of the surpassing beauty of its situation. It is built for the most part of brick, and is therefore probably of Roman date, though the plan and arrangement are in accordance with those of Greek, rather than Roman, theatres; it is supposed that the present structure was rebuilt upon the foundations of an older theatre of the Greek period. This theatre is the second largest of its kind in Sicily.