Taormina: the Jewel of Sicily

From one church to another
From one church to another

Recently I had the opportunity to visit an old college friend in Taormina, Sicily, for a few days. This town sits atop a hill overlooking the Mediterranean sea and it’s well known and renowned as one of the hot spots for beach vacation in Italy. The architecture is what one would expect from an old Mediterranean beach town, colored buildings, churches and bell towers but there is so much more to this sunny town, that anyone could get lost in its tight streets just from walking with the nose up admiring the upper floors of old houses. Balconies here come to life with precious handmade ceramics, vases, vines and flowers. Corners of streets have more ceramics depicting all sort of scenes and shop names. With so much variety and homogeneity this is truly the traveler and architectural photographer’s heaven (parts of The Godfather III were filmed here).
Like all Italian cities, Taormina has a central square, and this is one of the most distinct and recognizable squares across the country. Paved with a checkered motif and sitting over a cliff overlooking the sea, the square offers breathtaking views of the blue-green waters below and of the Etna’s mountain, Italy’s most active volcano. This was taking a nap during my visit and I didn’t get to come home with photos of lava fountains. In all honesty I was very happy to come home with some photos at all. Because of my recent bicep surgery I have not held a camera in over a month due to its weight and the inability to move my arm properly.

Lots of art everywhere
Lots of art everywhere

While the pain still lingers, my arm’s mobility is improving a little bit every day and, although I had to take breaks often from holding the camera, and some shots were just difficult and painful to make (like those I took laying down on the ground on the square), I have been very happy with the results and the photos I took home (a little less with the portable hard drive that died last night less than two years since purchase).

Giardini Naxos has quite a bit of artwork
Giardini Naxos has quite a bit of artwork

Back to the square: the checkered tiles provide great leading architectural lines and with not one, but two churches on different sides plus two large metal art pieces the possibilities to create an original shot abound, even in a town that sees a large number of tourists every year.

Another beautiful piece of architecture is given by the Teatro Greco (Greek Theatre), from which a view of the city can be admired from above. The Theatre (probably built by the Romans in Greek style) is the second largest in Sicily and it is incredibly well preserved. Today it is still used for theatrical performances as well as concerts (think Opera, not Rock).

In Taormina good restaurants and shops are plenty, it is so nice to sit at a table outside to enjoy a granita (what Americans call “Italian Ice”) or a cappuccino while enjoying people-watching after a busy day of photo taking.

Pano of Piazza IX Aprile
Pano of Piazza IX Aprile
Mt. Etna, Giardini Naxos and Taormina at sunset
Mt. Etna, Giardini Naxos and Taormina at sunset
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