Glamour and gelato
Cary Grant and Greta Garbo used to be regular visitors to Taormina, on Sicily’s east coast. And today this charismatic resort still attracts a glamorous crowd with its Medieval old quarter, elegant piazzas and hold-your-breath views of Mount Etna. There’s also a well-kept Greek amphitheatre, designer shops and some of the best pasta in this part of Italy.
Beaches and lidos
Taormina sits on top of a hill, so a cable car from Via Pirandello takes you down to the beaches. The most popular is Mazzaro, a pebbly strip with a well-equipped lido where you can rent beach umbrellas, chairs and watersports kit. There’s also a small, sandy beach next door, in the Bay of Spisone, that’s a big hit with the locals.
Marking the start of Taormina’s Medieval quarter is the Porta di Mezzo, or clocktower – a favourite landmark of street artists here. The area is a great place to wander, with its winding streets, Baroque fountain and 15th-century cathedral. Between antique shops and boutiques there’s also the shaded Villa Comunale – thought to be one of Sicily’s most beautiful little parks.
Trips to Mount Etna
In Taormina, you’ve got one of Europe’s most magnificent volcanoes on your doorstep. The hour’s journey to get there takes in the postcard–pretty village of Castiglione di Sicilia as well as the Alcantara Gorges waterfall, formed from an old lava eruption. And when you arrive at Etna, there’s the walk through the national park up to the volcano’s craters to look forward to.