Top 5 Free Things to See in Taormina
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Taormina is a small town perched on the cliffs of Sicily in Italy. From the pedestrian-only city center, you can see Mount Etna and the Ionian Sea. The village of Taormina is a popular destination for wealthy Europeans in the Summer and its streets are lined with high-end shops. Fortunately for the more budget-conscious traveler, there are many ways to spend a day in Taormina without spending a penny. Here are our favorite free things to do and see in this beautiful village.
1. The Corso Umberto & Piazza IX Aprile
Corso Umberto is the Main Street of Taormina. While it is home to many high-end shops, it also is filled with smaller antique, pottery, and souvenir stores. Strolling along this short street and doing a bit of window shopping is a good way to spend a morning and view the village's medieval buildings. This is also where all of the main restaurants and bakeries will be.
Piazza IX Aprile is a beautiful large square off of the Corso Umberto. The square has a huge panoramic terrace overlooking the sea and the surrounding hotels and homes along the cliffs. If the weather is right you will also be able to see Mt Etna in the distance. Opposite the terrace is the small church, Chiesa de San Giuseppe, with a beautiful baroque facade. Find a bench and enjoy the atmosphere. On any given day, you might be lucky to catch musicians or entertainers, artists painting the view, or a wedding party leaving the church.
2. Public gardens – Villa Comunale
If you are looking for a less crowded place to explore, the public garden is a must see! The garden is not only full of lush vegetation, but also hosts several WWII pieces, statues, caged birds, children's playground, and fountains filled with fish. The gardens were originally part of a private residence of an English noblewoman and is truly a retreat from the rest of the city. There is a panoramic walkway on the cliff's edge in the park to get more views of the calm sea and Mt Etna.
3. Isola Bella
Just below Taormina is a gorgeous beach and a tiny island called Isola Bella. The island is connected by a narrow path that gets submerged with the tide. This beach is popular with sunbathers or those up for a little adventure hanging out on the rocks. The actual island is a nature reserved filled with bird and exotic plants. To get down to the beach, you can either pay to take a cable car or walk down the steps in under half an hour. The walk down is a lot better than the walk back up, but manageable both ways.
4. Coastal and Isola Bella Lookout
To get an even better view of the coast and Isola Bella, you can walk 5-10 minutes out of the main town to a lookout platform. Regardless if you journey down to Isola Bella or not, this is a great way to see the beach and the whole coast from above. It offers the best views, despite very few people knowing about it.
Location of the lookout can be found on the map below or by searching L'Isola Bella Fotografata da Via Pirandello in Google/Apple Maps. It is right at a curve of the road, and you will have to walk along a narrow sidewalk to get there. However, the actual platform is quite large and will be hard to miss.
5. St Nicolas Cathedral of Taormina
Located on the western end of the Corso Umberto, the St Nicolas Cathedral or Duomo di Taormina is a quintessential Sicilian church. The Piazza the church is on has a baroque fountain with centaur (symbol of Taormina) statues and smaller horse drinking fountains off of it. Sit inside the church for a bit to appreciate the medieval statues and architecture and to relax after a day spent walking around the entire village.
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