On the second day and after a huge leisurely breakfast on the hotel’s terrace overlooking the sea,we stopped by the concierge desk to discuss possible side day tours. We already had our hearts set on a side trip to Mt. Etna and another to at least two of the Aeolian Islands. After some consulting, we booked a tour to Mt. Etna, the two Aeolian islands of Panarea and Stromboli islands and one of the southern baroque towns, Noto which included stops at Villa Romana del Tellaro and Marzamemi. The touring company that would be transporting us to these destinations was “SAT Sicilian Airbus Travel Group, Corso Umberto, 73, tel. 0039-0942 24653; firstname.lastname@example.org. We also purchased tickets for an evening Italian Opera performance at Taormina’s local theater.
The rest of the day was devoted to shopping, taking in the views, smells and sounds of Taormina at an easy pace, and detouring off the main track, Corso Umberto to tour the local sights.
Corso Umberto, Taormina’s main street, extends through the entire town as a pedestrian street from the entry gate, Porto Catania until it abuts the exit gate, Porto Messina. The 14th century entryway city gate, Porta Catania stands emblazoned with the Aragon coat-of-arms. Near it stands the 14th century three-storied Palazzo Duca di Santo Stéfano, built in the same time frame as Porta Catania. It is easy to recognize because of its Gothic windows. It reflects the Arab and Norman influence in its form and decorations. Two rooms display works by the sculptor Giuseppe Mazzullo (1913-1988). The other hall is used for concerts and special events.
As one strolls along the Corso Umberto, the following are some of the landmarks that you can explore:
Piazza IX Aprile Square provides for a magnificent panorama and within the plaza, there is the church San Giuseppi. In a Planetware blog, the author Barbara Radcliff Rogers writes, “The piazza opens onto a terrace with a beautiful view of Mt. Etna and the bay. This piazza is where the older part of the town begins, marked by a square stone clock tower. Decorating the piazza is the double stairway and Baroque façade of San Giuseppe, a pink confection of an exterior. The bright interior of Rococo stucco work is so ornate and white that it looks like cake frosting.”
“The Corvaja Palace has its unique form derived from the overlapping of Arab, Norman and Gothic styles of architecture.”
The Planetware writer, Ms, Rogers comments on the Palazzo Corvaia, of Piazza Vittorio Emanuele which is off the Corso Umberto. “Palazzo Corvaia in Taormina housed the Sicilian Parliament of Nobles meetings in 1410. The best preserved palazzo in Taormina, the palace incorporates a 10th-century Saracen tower with a later triple window under graceful curved arches. The severe crenellated front has twin windows, also with slender columns and arches. On the left side, a Gothic doorway leads into the inner courtyard where you’ll see reliefs depicting the Creation. Inside the palace is the Sicilian Museum of Art and Folk Traditions, filled with works by Sicilian craftsmen from the 16th to the 20th centuries. Here, you’ll see examples of ceramics, wood sculpture, colorful Sicilian carts, and needlework. The church of Santa Caterina and remains of a small Roman theater are in the same square.”
The following is a description by Ms. Rogers of Planetware about the iconic Greek/ Roman theater (Teatro Greco) on Via Teatro Greco which is directly off of Corso Umberto:”Taormina’s most famous landmark is the Greek Theater, originally built in the third century BC under Hiero II of Syracuse. But under Roman rule in the second century BC, it was completely rebuilt with all the characteristics of a Roman theater. The perfectly semicircular cavea rises in stepped seating to an upper diameter of 109 meters, the stage stands above the level of the orchestra, and the finely decorated stage loft is so high that its sides adjoin the top rows of seats to create an enclosed space. A fortuitous gap in the wall of the loft frames Taormina’s most celebrated view of the surrounding countryside as far as Mount Etna, one that has been immortalized in paintings and photographs as one of Italy’s most iconic.”
“The Greek/ Roman Amphiteater, situated in the most panoramic position of Taormina, continues to host internationally renowned shows and events that attract the famous and powerful from the worlds of film, TV and fashion.”
Here are some additional photos of the Corso Umberto area:
We did attend an evening at the opera. This is a staple within the Taormina community. (Cine-Theatre San Giorgio is up a set of steps and behind the church of San Giuseppe, in piazza IX aprile.) Opera performers are invited to perform excerpts from famous operas with an accomplished pianist providing the music. During the break, the audience is invited onto the terrace to enjoy a glass of wine and the beautiful view under the stars. At the end, the tenor and the Soprano soloists reward the grateful attendees with some Italian favorites like, “O Solo Mio” and “Torna a Sorrento”(Come Back to Sorrento song.)
Taormina Sicily – Throughout May/October – Italian Opera Taormina http://www.taormina.it › New Italian Opera Taormina. An extraordinary journey with the most famous arias and duet from “ItalianOperas”. You will hear music from great Italian operas interpreted by professional singers who have performed in the most important Italian and international theatres, performed with piano accompaniment…