MARCH 2024

This is the first blog about our September Sicily trip, I know I am a bit late writing this, but this timing seems perfect for summer holiday planning. During our September Sicily trip we visited some of the eastern hotspots; Taormina, Cefalu and Ragusa. One week in Sicily certainly is not enough to discover everything the island has to offer, but I loved our little roadtrip. We started our roadtrip in Taormina, as it is located close to the airport of Catania. In this blog you can explore along, to see whether it would be a good summer holiday destination (spoiler alert: absolutely!).

Where we stayed

Taormina has risen to popularity due to the White Lotus tv-series I didn’t know this before, but it certainly explained why lodging is quite expensive in Taormina. Taormina is home to three of the best luxury hotels in Italy: Grand Hotel Timeo, San Domenico Palace (Four Seasons, where the series was filmed) and Villa Sant’Andrea, a Belmond hotel. Buyt if you are not willing to splurge € 800 a night, there are other options too. I discovered that Airbnb works quite well in Taormina, we choose “Taormina holiday Central house”, which featured two bedrooms which was perfect for our group. It was located a few streets out of the historic center, but we had to get used walking this many stairs up and down. So only book if you are comfortable doing lots of stairs. We paid € 200 per night and as we were traveling with four this was a good deal. When you stay in Taormina you have to leave your car in one of the big parking garages. This costs about € 13 per day and gets cheaper if you stay longer, very reasonable.

Things to do in Taormina

Old town: Taormina has a very charming old-town, that is decorated with the traditional Testa di Mori (plant pots in the shape of heads), cacti and mosaic. You won’t find any other place in Sicily which is as decorated as Taormina. It is as if all inhabitants were forced to participate to maintain their houses very well and include typical Sicilian decorations. Absolutely loved the vibes! In the streets you will also encounter many street artists, I especially loved the old Italian men that sang Gypsy Kings songs, they were so good and added so much magic to the streets. If you want to take pictures in the famous Piazza IX Aprile, you have to be really early. From 10AM the streets of Taormina are busy, so if you want to take unobstructed pictures, you have to rise on time.

Isola Bella: Isola Bella is the most famous beach in Taormina. There is a small island in front of the beach, which you can walk to most of the day. If you want to visit the island, bring some cash as you have to pay a small entrance fee. The beach is free to use, but you can also choose to stay in a beach club and pay for a beach chair. If you want to go to Isola Bella from the town center, it is quite a walk down. We took the Taormina cable car down, it only takes a few minutes but offers great views. Tickets are € 10 for a return trip. Once you get down, there is still a lot of stairs to take to the beach itself. The water was absolutely divine in September, having heated up in Euro summer.

Greek theater: The main activity in Taormina is visiting the Greek theater. We didn’t buy tickets beforehand, the queue looked pretty bad, but we only had to wait about 10 minutes, which was fine. The theater is worth visiting for the view alone. I have never seen an ancient theater with such a blue sea as a backdrop, it was really spectacular. You can even see Isola Bella from up here. Tickets costs € 12 per adult and I think it is worth it. We spent about 1 hour here (it gets really hot during the day).

Villa Comunale di Taormina: The public gardens of Taormina are free to visit. It is a tropical style garden with sweeping views over the Ionian Sea. It is a breath of fresh air compared to the very busy city center.

Shopping: Corso Umberto is the main shopping street in Taormina, it is located between two old arched gateways. Taormina is full with authentic stores selling typical Sicilian treasures as well as tourist shops. You can definitely find some gems in Taormina, original lemon vases, linnen dresses, absolutely loved browsing the stores. There is a good variation of luxury stores and affordable stores. Taormina is slightly more expensive than other destinations, but if you are looking for a gift, Taormina has the best stores.

Food: Sicilian cuisine is delicious, you will find many restaurants with lemon or pistachio dishes, which are local specialities. Definitely have a canolo with your coffee and a Granita is a must. We loved the little stalls selling Granita with alcohol on the way to the Greek Theatre, but apparently Bam Bar has the best ones. Bam Bar gets busy at opening right away, so we never had the option to try.

Ristorante al Paladino is an authentic Sicilian restaurant with great service, we loved it so much, that we went back here for dinner! Pistachio pasta was great, as well as the meat. During the summer months there is a band playing Italian music in front of the restaurant, they were amazing! Ristorante al Paladino does reservations and I would advise to make dinner reservations. Right next door you will find Osteria da Rita which is a favorite restaurant as well, but they don’t take reservations so you have to be lucky to find a spot. Taormina is absolutely packed in the evening, but I loved the summer holiday vibes in the tiny terraced streets!

Giammonarte: This isn’t a real activity, but more of an honorable mention for the most beautiful decorated building.

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