Holidays to Castelmola take you that little bit higher. This beautiful Sicilian village teeters on a hilltop with a balcony over Taormina and the azure Ionian coastline.
Italy’s most beautiful
Castelmola is an eye-catching hilltop village perched almost precariously over historic Taormina and the bay of Giardini Naxos on Sicily’s Ionian coast. In the background, the peaks of Mount Etna are outlined in bold against the sky. And if Castelmola figures on the official list of Italy’s most beautiful villages, it’s not just because of its lofty location but also its tall, Medieval town houses and irresistible old-world charm.
A window on the world
Piazza San Antonio is the village’s main square. All around it, pizzerias and bars spill out on to diamond-patterned tiles, and it’s hard to miss the Ionian Sea sprawling out to the horizon 1,800 feet below. Leading away from the piazza, Castelmola’s narrow lanes are packed with craft shops and artisanal delis. There are some great churches to see, too, like the 17th-century Church of San Giorgio. And on a hill overlooking the village is the Castello with its vertigo-inducing views.
Some of Sicily’s best beaches are on Castelmola’s doorstep. Lido Mazzaro, a 15-minute drive away, is a prom-backed avenue of sand and gravel, with tonnes of watersports and sunbeds. And Isola Bella, a rocky islet with a small beach, lies just off the shoreline. Another popular beach is at Giardini Naxos – it’s a huge arc of sand that extends from Capo Taormina to Capo Schiso. It’s slightly quieter than Lido Mazzaro and has rubber-stamped family credentials.
Close to Taormina
Taormina is the clifftop town where D H Lawrence and Truman Capote came for inspiration, and is just 10 minutes’ drive from Castelmola. The Greco-Roman amphitheatre has splendid views of Mount Etna and the Mediterranean in the same breath. And then there’s the charming Public Garden, bequeathed by an English aristocrat. It’s full of eccentric buildings, rare plants, and cobbled paths hemmed with flowers.
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