Isola Bella (Isula Bedda, in Sicilian dialect, and Beautiful Island, in English) is a small island located near the beach with the same name, in the Ionian Sea, in Taormina. Sometimes, when the tide is low, Isola Bella connects to the beach through a narrow sandy strip, becoming a peninsula. The beach in front of the island is also beautiful, but is made of pebbles and the sea floor is rocky, making it uncomfortable for some people. The beach is free, but the entrance to the Isola Bella Nature Reserve costs 4 euros. SHORT HISTORY The island was donated in 1806 by Ferdinand I of Bourbon to Pancrazio Ciprioti, Mayor of Taormina. In 1890, it was purchased by Florence Trevelyan, who built a small house on the island. The island was later inherited by the lawyer Cesare Acrosso, the godson adopted by Salvatore Cacciola, husband of Florence Trevelyan. In 1954, Isola Bella was bought for 38,000₤ by the brothers Leone and Emilio Bosurgi, who built a village with 12 autonomous residences and a tiny swimming pool nearby, in order to host their friends. The Bosurgi family owned Sanderson, a historic citrus processing company. In 1982, the bankruptcy of the Read more [...]
Taormina is one of the most important tourist destinations in Sicily, known for its landscapes, beaches and for its monuments. In Taormina, worth mentioning are Teatro Greco, an impressive open-air theatre, the clock tower Torre dell’Orologio, the Cathedral of San Nicolò di Bari, the public gardens and, near the beach, the beautiful small island of Isola Bella.
Quattro Fontane (Four Fountains) is a beautiful fountain in Taormina, located in Piazza Duomo, in front of the Cathedral of San Nicolò di Bari. SHORT HISTORY The fountain was built in 1635 by the Municipality of Taormina, and it became popularly known as Quattro Fontane from the four small columns placed on each corner of the monument, each with its own basin and surmounted by a seahorse from whose mouth the water flowed. Today, only one of the four seahorses is still functional. ARCHITECTURE The fountain has a central body formed by two basins. On the edge of the smaller one, there are four names engraved – Vincenzo Spuches, Vincenzo Cacopardo, Geronimo Mena and Cesare Onion. They are the representatives of the Municipality who ordered the construction of the fountain. In the center of the small basin, a pedestal supports a Centauress, with the crown on her head, who holds a scepter in her right hand and a globe with a cross in her left hand. HOW TO GET THERE Quattro Fontane is located in Piazza Duomo, about 700 meters away from Porta Messina, the main entrance to the historical center of the town, and about 110 Read more [...]
The Church of Sant’Agostino is a deconsecrated church in Taormina, located in Piazza IX Aprile, across the square from Torre dell’Orologio. SHORT HISTORY A first church, the Church of San Sebastiano, was built on this site in 1486, in Gothic style. On September 12, 1530, the church was given to the Order of Saint Augustine, and the Augustinians changed its dedication. As a result of the Royal decree of 1866 for the suppression of religious orders and congregations, the church and the adjacent convent were expropriated and acquired by the Municipality. The complex was used at first as an art gallery, and then as an elementary school. In 1933, the convent became a library, to house the book heritage of the former monasteries of Sant’Agostino, San Domenico and Sant’Antonio of Padua. The library has over 22,000 volumes, of which 2,000 are dedicated only to Sicily. The library collection consists mainly of treatises on theology, philosophy and sciences. In 1981, the entire complex was restored, and since 1985 it was used both as a library and as a multipurpose space for art exhibitions and cultural events. ARCHITECTURE From the ancient facade of the church, only the small rose window Read more [...]
Torre dell’Orologio (Clock Tower) is a medieval tower and, at the same time, a city gate located in Piazza IX Aprile, in Taormina. Due to its location, about halfway between Porta Messina and Porta Catania, along Corso Umberto, the tower is also known as Torre di Mezzo (Middle Tower) or Porta di Mezzo (Middle Gate). The tower actually separates the medieval part of the town from the ancient Greco-Roman part of Taormina. SHORT HISTORY Torre di Mezzo was built in the 12th century on Greco-Roman foundations. In 1676, the tower was destroyed by the French troops of Louis XIV, the Sun King. Three years later, in 1679, the tower was rebuilt, and the clock was installed. From that moment on, the tower became known as Torre dell’Orologio. The bells of the tower ring on two occasions – on the election day of the town’s mayor, and on July 9, when the patron saint of Taormina, San Pancrazio, is celebrated. HOW TO GET THERE Torre dell’Orologio is located about 450 meters away from Porta Messina and about 350 meters from Porta Catania. Because the historical center of Taormina is entirely pedestrian, you can reach the tower only on foot.
The Church of Santa Caterina d’Alessandria is a Baroque church located on Corso Umberto, in the historical center of Taormina, near Porta Messina. SHORT HISTORY The Order of Capuchin Friars arrived in Taormina towards the middle of the 16th century, and at the beginning of the 17th century, more precisely on April 27, 1610, bought the old Church of Santa Caterina, located outside the city walls. The new Church of Santa Caterina, located this time inside the city walls, was built in the first half of the 17th century on the ruins of a small Roman theater. During the 20th century, due to a precarious state, the Church of Santa Caterina was closed for about 40 years. The building was renovated and reopened for worship on November 25, 1977. ART AND ARCHITECTURE The facade of the church is delimited by two corner pilasters. The entrance, raised by five steps above street level, is characterized by a central portal in pink Taormina marble with two Ionic columns on high plinths, surmounted by Corinthian capitals. The architrave supports two curled lateral volutes, with small angels above. The niche between the angels houses the statue of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, depicted Read more [...]
The Church of San Antonio Abate is a small church in Taormina, located on the southern edge of the historical center of the town, near Porta Catania. SHORT HISTORY The Church of San Antonio Abate was built around the year 1330. After the bombing of 1943, during the Second World War, the church was almost completely destroyed, but it was immediately rebuilt with the stones recovered from the rubble. ART AND ARCHITECTURE The architectural style of the church can be defined as eclectic. On the facade, we can find Byzantine elements, Gothic influences are present in the construction of the portal – clearly visible in the pointed arch above the architrave, and also Baroque elements appear in the small bell-gable placed on top of the left corner of the facade. The portal, built in white limestone, is surmounted by a pointed arch, with a tympanum decorated with small arches. The facade also features two small windows placed on the sides of the portal, and a small stone cross at the top. The church has a single nave, with an arched niche on the left wall decorated with gray Taormina marble, while in the upper part it imitates a Read more [...]
The Church of San Michele Arcangelo is a small church in Taormina, dedicated to Saint Michael the Archangel, located about 140 meters away from the Cathedral of San Nicolò di Bari and Piazza Duomo. SHORT HISTORY The Church of San Michele was built in Baroque style at the beginning of the 17th century, close to the walls of Palazzo Duchi di Santo Stefano. The church was heavily damaged by the bombings of 1943, during the Second World War, and despite the subsequent restoration from the 1950s, it was reopened for worship only in 2011. ARCHITECTURE The best proof that the church was built in the 17th century is the Baroque portal on the facade. The beautiful portal has the jambs and the architrave in pink Taormina marble. Above the portal, there is a small rectangular window, surmounted by an iron cross at the top. A bell-gable with two bells is located on the left of the cross. The church have a single nave. The ceiling features exposed wood-beam trusses. Inside the church, there is a small crypt. HOW TO GET THERE The Church of San Michele Arcangelo is located about 850 meters from Porta Messina, the main Read more [...]
The Cathedral of San Nicolò di Bari is the Cathedral of Taormina (Duomo di Taormina). The church is located in Piazza Duomo, along Corso Umberto, near Porta Catania, in the historical center of Taormina. Due to the external fortification elements, the church is also known as the Cathedral Fortress. SHORT HISTORY The first cathedral of Taormina was the primitive Church of San Francesco di Paola. Starting with 962, during the muslim rule of the town, the Christian worship was prohibited, and following the Norman conquest of Taormina, in 1078, the town lost its bishopric. The construction of the current Cathedral, with the layout and characteristics of a fortress, dates back to the 13th century. The Cathedral was built in Sicilian Romanesque-Gothic style over the remains of a church dedicated to Saint Nicholas of Myra (also known as Nicolas of Bari). The Cathedral was partially rebuilt during the 15th century, and the Renaissance style portals were added at the beginning of the 16th century. The church was remodeled in the 17th century with the addition of the Baroque portal on the main facade, and the construction of the chapels in the side apses. Between 1945 and 1948, the Neapolitan architect Read more [...]
The Church of San Giuseppe is a beautiful church in Taormina, dedicated to Saint Joseph. The church, built in Baroque style in the second half of the 17th century, stands near the famous Torre dell’Orologio, dominating the main square of the town, Piazza IX Aprile. SHORT HISTORY The church was built after 1650 as the seat of the Confraternity of the Souls in Purgatory. On the facade of the church and also inside, there are numerous references to the confraternity: inscriptions, coats of arms, details of sculptures, bas-reliefs, mottos and allegorical figures. In 1919, the church was given to the Fathers of the Salesian Order, present in Taormina since 1911. The order enriched the church with new sculptures and thematic frescoes. In Autumn 2015, water infiltrations and humidity caused by heavy rain determined the collapse of the ceiling, and the church was closed for consolidation and restoration works. After the restoration, the church was reopened for worship. ARCHITECTURE A majestic double staircase leads to the church, and both the stairs and the porch in front of the building are fenced with a magnificent stone balustrade. The facade has a large central portal that leads into the church, and Read more [...]
Piazza IX Aprile is the main square of Taormina and, by far, the most beautiful one, located about halfway between Porta Messina and Porta Catania, down the main street of the town, Corso Umberto. The square is populated with many interesting monuments and, from its terrace, you can admire a magnificent panorama of the Mount Etna, Bay of Naxos and Teatro Greco, the ancient theater of Taormina. Characteristic are the outdoor cafés and the artists who draw caricatures. SHORT HISTORY The square is called Piazza IX Aprile because on April 9, 1860, during a Mass held in the Cathedral of Taormina, rumors came about the arrival of Giuseppe Garibaldi in Marsala, a town in western Sicily, to start the liberation of the island from the Bourbon domination. The rumors turned out to be false, and Garibaldi arrived in Marsala a month later, on May 9. Before 1860, the square was called Piazza Sant’Agostino, after the Church of Sant’Agostino built in 1448 on the eastern side of the square, now deconsecrated and serving as a public library. ARCHITECTURE Another religious building located in Piazza IX Aprile is the Church of San Giuseppe, built in the 17th century. The church Read more [...]