“Were a man to spend only one day in Sicily and ask, “What must one see?” I would answer him without hesitation, “Taormina.” It is only a landscape, but a landscape where you can find everything on earth that seems made to seduce the eyes, the mind and the imagination.”
SO WROTE Guy de Maupassant after visiting Sicily in 1885. Indeed, for the past two centuries, artists and actors—from Goethe and Picasso to Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Loren—have been drawn to this charming little town. Yet long before it was part of the Grand Tour, Taormina inspired the Etruscans, Phoenicians and Ancient Greeks. It’s hardly surprising: with its rustic charm, magical views and Etna’s magnetic forces permeating the air, this is one of the most enchanting places on earth.
Any mention of Taormina conjures images of the Greek Theatre—an archeological treasure right next door to Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo. It mystifies in the solitude of early morning and regularly hosts concerts come sundown. If you get the chance to attend, take it: this stunning setting comes alive to the sound of music.
It’s just a short stroll through the cobblestone streets to the heart of town. Piazza IX Aprile is a gorgeous square with cafés and gelaterias. Wander into its two ancient churches and take in Taormina’s diverse architecture. Nearby Corso Umberto offers a perfect slice of retail therapy, whether you’re after the latest Italian fashions or locally made handicrafts. Head to Bam Bar for mouthwatering Sicilian treats. The granita is not to be missed.