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Taormina – The pearl of Mediterranean

Taormina view

Taormina – The pearl of Mediterranean it is one of the most important international tourist centers of the Sicilian region, known for its natural landscape, marine beauties and historical monuments and it was an important destination of the Grand Tour.

History of Taormina

There are many news on the origin of Taormina (Tauromenion, Tauromenium, from the ancient Greek toponym Ταυρομένιον), but uncertain for documentation and reliability. The most accepted hypothesis is that which indicates the meaning of the name in reference to the hilly position of the city.

Diodorus Siculus, in the 14th book of his Bibliotheca historica, attests that the Sicilians lived in the fortress of Taormina, living off agriculture and livestock breeding, even before the landing of the Chalcidian Greeks in the bay (735 BC), where at the mouth of the Alcantara river , founded Naxos (today’s Giardini Naxos), the first Greek settlement colony in Sicily.

As just written Taormina remained included in the Hellenistic Kingdom of Sicily, having Syracuse as its capital, until Rome, in 212 BC, declared all of Sicily a Roman province. Its inhabitants were considered allies of the Romans and Cicero, in the second oration against Verre, mentions that the city is one of the three “Civitates foederatae” and names them “Civis Notabilis”. As a result, it is not up to its inhabitants to pay tithes or to arm ships and sailors in case of need. Renown is the Ancient Greek Theatre of Taormina.

the ancient Greek theatre of Taormina
The ancient Theatre of Taormina

The city was taken over by the Great Count Ruggero, who conquered Castronovo and turned to conquer the Val Demone, besieging the city, through the construction of twenty-two wooden fortresses: trunks and branches form an insuperable wall; nevertheless, the Arab-Sicilian defenders of the now crumbling Sicilian Emirate resisted for a long time before capitulating in 1078.

Soon Taormina became famous all over the world, both for its landscape beauties, for its landscapes, for its colors, for the paintings of the snow-covered and steaming Etna that descends to the turquoise sea and that went around the world, but also for his permissiveness, for his “transgression”, for his “learned cenacles”, for the “myth of Arcadia”, for his unbridled “dolce vita“.

Taormina as an undisputed tourist destination

Being an international tourist city, many English spies during Fascism had disguised themselves well and came out as soon as the allied troops entered. After the war, Taormina expanded without altering its natural beauty, and, until 1968 it was a purely winter tourist city for rich and individual tourism, so much so that the best hotels opened in October and closed in June. It was frequented by renowned writers such as Roger Peyrefitte, Truman Capote, André Gide, D.H. Lawrence, Salvatore Quasimodo, Tennessee Williams, the Russian Anna Achmatova, from nobles, such as Juliana of Holland, from the royals of Sweden and Denmark, from the President of Finland Urho Kekkonen, from illustrious and famous personalities such as Soraya, Ava Gardner, Romy Schneider , as well as Liz Taylor, Richard Burton, Dino Grandi, Willy Brandt, Greta Garbo, who wintered for months in the Taormina hotels spending the days, but above all the nights, in the typical nightclubs of the time and continuing, thus, that sweet life that began with the Belle Époque.

Events in Taormina

There are numerous demonstrations and events that every year, especially in the summer season, are based in Taormina.

Since 1983, the most significant events have been held in the context of Taormina Arte, the cultural institution that takes care of the organization of the music, theater and dance festival. The program also includes the Taormina Film Fest, the Taormina Film Festival, heir to the Messina and Taormina Film Festival, born in 1960, which for twenty years hosted the David di Donatello. As part of the Film Festival, the Silver Ribbons, awards conferred by film journalists, are awarded to the Ancient Theater. Since 2005, Taormina Arte has been organizing, in October, the Giuseppe Sinopoli Festival, an exhibition dedicated to the great conductor, who died in 2001, for years the artistic director of Taormina Arte. As part of Taormina Arte, in mid-June, every year at the Greek Theater, there is the awarding of the Taormina Media Award W. Goethe International Journalism Prize conceived and directed by Dino Papale and which among the jurors includes some Nobel Prize academics.

Taobuk (Taormina International Book Festival) has been held in Taormina since 2010, which, gathering the tradition of Taormina as a cosmopolitan capital of literature, has been a hotbed of meetings and debates for years, with Italian and international guests not only from literature, but also from cinema , philosophy, art, music, catering. Taomoda Week, an international fashion week, also takes place there.

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