Important cities of Sicily: Taormina

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Taormina. Photo: Fabrizio Raneri Taormina, with its corners, its atmospheres and its colours, has always bewitched anyone who comes to visit it.
The charm of “the pearl of the Ionian sea” has remained unchanged through times.

The birth of the city was due to the settlement of some Greek sailors coming from the near Naxos. With this first domination, Tauromenion (this is its first name) took the typical form of the Greek colonies, from the buildings of Agorà and Bouleterion, necessary centre of the city council.
The construction of what is rightly regarded as the civic symbol, the famous Ancient Theatre, goes back to this period. It was built in the 3rd century Before Christ, using the morphology of the hill; it is surrounded by a breathtaking view, including two geographical extremes: the Bay of Schisò and volcano Etna.

After Greek people, the Romans were spellbound by this patch of heaven; their main undertaking was the renovation of countless inherited pieces of architectural work. For instance, the Romans changed the famous Theatre into an Amphitheatre.

Taormina also knew times of decadence, such as the unfortunate choice of forming an alliance with Sesto Pompeo against Octavian. When the latter won, Taormina was downgraded to a simple colony. On the other hand, Byzantine domination brought about a prosperous period. After the fall of Constantinople and the consequent decline of Syracuse, Taormina became the new capital of eastern Sicily.

Roman Amphitheatre of Taormina. Photo: Fabrizio Raneri Byzantine people too left clear signs of their own passing such as the construction of the second defensive bailey.

The history of this tourist centre which was subjected to several dominations continued with the coming of the Arabs, that occupied most of the Sicily from the 9th to the 11th century.
1079 was the year of the arrival of the Normans. As a result of this last domination, Taormina witnessed the rebirth of Christianity in that area, and consequently several monasteries were founded and urban fabric was strengthened. A further domination, that marked a decidedly less prosperous civic period than the previous one, was the Spanish occupation. In fact, with the Spanish all the area suffered heavy losses, such as the selling of several statesowned and numerous and important farmhouses.

Nowadays Taormina is a centre of attraction among Sicilian tourist resorts. The city has a long, noble tradition of cultured and sophisticated tourism and preserves undimmed all its glamour.


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