Sicily

Sicily once made part of the Magna Grecia (Greater Greece), here you can see the antiquity in the original, it shines through the other cultural layers. In Sicily, you can literally touch the world of the ancient Greeks and Romans, breathe in the fragrance of flowers that Persephone admired, eat the fish that the ancient Greek historian Strabo wrote about, bathe in the baths given by the nymphs to Hercules, listen to the sound of the sea that Odysseus heard once, drink a glass of wine in honor of Dionysus and dance to the panpipe of the god Pan.


Beaches in Taormina

Temperature in the Ionian sea does not fall below 14 grades Centigrade, some people swim in winter. There is a proverb that residents of Taormina go bathing only after the holiday of the patron saint St. Pancras (July, 9th).

Good bathing weather may last till November, but there are years when showers start at the end of September. I think the best time for a beach holiday is the last week of August and the first week of September.

There are several beaches in Taormina - Mazzeo, Villagonia, Spisone, Mazzaro, Isola Bella. The most picturesque, number one in the top of the most photographed places is Nature Reserve Isola Bella. The beach Mazzaro with five-star hotels is adjacent, here you can rent a boat. Mazzaro and Isola Bella can be reached by the cable car (Funivia - in Italian). When in the low season the cable car is closed, there are small orange buses that can take you to the historical centre.

There is a convenient parking place near the cable-car ticket office, where you can park a car easily even during the peak season. Many people in August leave a car here and go up to town by "funivia".

The longest beach in Taormina is Spisone, it can be reached by the blue "Beach bus" which you can take at the bus stop "Fermata San Pancrazio" near the Porta Messina.  The bus-schedule, funivia time table may be viewed on the A.S.M. website . At Spisone do not miss the opportunity to dine at lido Re del Sole with an amazing sea-view, fresh fish is cooked by Valentino. It is better to book a table because local people adore this place.

All beaches of Taormina are shingly, so it's advisable to buy special rubber slippers either in the shops in the center or at the beach (average price is 8-10 Euro).


Safety tips for a good holiday in Sicily

Of course you know all the travelling rules very well. Sicily is less dangerous than Rome, Paris or London, though there are places where you should be careful. Take the same measures as everywhere.

In Taormina be attentive with ATMs in crowdy places. Look out if there are signs of criminal activity - false fronts, loose or bulky card slot or loitering strangers trying to steal your PIN. Do not use non-bank cash machines.

In Catania and Palermo do not leave the car unattended and with luggage or anything attractive inside, even in the boot. When you travel by car, do not keep the bag on the seat as smash-and-grab criminals may break the glass at the traffic-lights. 

Walking the streets keep your bag or camera on the side away from the traffic, there can be thieves on motorbikes. And you'd better not wear expensive clothes and jewellery going to big cities. But you can wear them in Taormina as the whole historical center is guarded by video-cams.


Sports in Taormina

Taormina and towns around offer many winter and summer sport activities. You can do your favourite sport admiring beautiful Sicilian landscapes. In Taormina there are several gym clubs, a town swimming-pool, Taormina tennis club near Villa Comunale, a football field. Here you can go trekking or horse riding, choose snorkelling or diving, fishing or canoeing, paragliding or playing golf. In winter you can go skiing to Etna, there are very good facilities on the volcano slopes.


Distances from Taormina

Though Sicily is an island, it is not that small as one may think. You cannot drive and see all the places of interest in a day. It is better to choose one part of Sicily for a vacation. There are two main airports in Sicily - in Palermo (Western part of Sicily) and in Catania (Eastern coast of Sicily). The nearest airport to Taormina is in Catania (http://www.aeroporto.catania.it/).

There are three big cities in Sicily - Palermo, Catania and Messina. Messina has a good train communication with the "nose of the Italian Boot"  via sea ferries.

Google Maps inform that the distance from Palermo (Western part of Sicily) to Taormina (Eastern coast of Sicily) is about 170 km.
Distance from Messina to Taormina is about 45 km, Catania to Taormina is also about 45 km.
There are regular buses that go from Catania airport to Taormina, you may find the time-table at www.interbus.it.