Castelmola and Taormina
Many visitors believe that Taormina may provide some of the most spectacular views, tiny Castelmola, built 1,800 feet above sea level, takes you literally to a higher level of beauty.
Start at the top of the mountain at Castelmola, a tiny, picturesque village offering beautiful views of Taormina and the gorgeous bay of Giardini-Naxos below. In the distance, you will see Mount Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe with an impressive height of more than 3,300 meters (10,922 feet). The village's thirteenth-century castle, the Castello, is now in ruins but this fortress was dramatically situated to command the hills and valleys and has wonderful views over the surrounding hills and coast.
Make your way down to Taormina and Porta Messina where you can visit the Greek theatre. Built in the 3rd century, these amazing ruins are the largest theatre in Sicily after Syracuse. Taormina sits near Mount Etna, an active volcano with trails leading to the summit. Near the theater, cliffs drop to the sea forming coves with sandy beaches. A narrow stretch of sand connects to Isola Bella, a tiny island and nature reserve.
Stroll along Corso Umberto, formerly the ancient Roman street Valeria, and observe exclusive shops, famous restaurants, monuments and more. While here you can pop into a pastry or ice cream shop for a taste of typical Sicilian sweets. At the beginning of this charming street is perhaps the greatest symbol of Taormina's long varied history: Palazzo Corvaja.
At the other end of Corso Umberto I is Piazza del Duomo, complete with 13th Century Cathedral and Baroque fountain. Conclude your tour with a short visit to the historical center of Messina where you can see the Church of the Catalans and the cathedral square with the largest astronomical clock in the world.
This popular tour sells out fast so sign up now and remember to bring your camera to capture incredible memories of Castelmola and Taormina that you will savor for years to come.
Reviewer: Carol Graffius
Enjoyed our shopping spree in both towns.. You have to try the almond wine in Castelmola. The views were beautiful from the hilltops. Chiara, our tour guide, was delightful. She provided us with almond paste cookies that were delicious. We ended up purchasing a box from the Ragusa Pasticceria in Messina before we boarded our ship and ate them as a snack throughout the remainder of our 10 day cruise.