Our guide to Sicily's trendiest town...
With the next G7 summit due to be held later this month in Taormina here’s Italy expert Sarah McLennan’s pocket-sized guide to Sicily’s trendiest town.
Positioned on the Italian island’s north-eastern coast, Taormina is sandwiched between Mount Etna and the ever-glittering Bay of Naxos. A home to artists include Goethe, Capote and DH Lawrence, it has also long attracted the rich and famous courtesy of its raffish air, sultry climate, fine dining and citrus tree-scented medieval streets.
Best time to visit?
May, September or October: you’ll avoid the possibly-too-hot summer months, and there will be less crowds. That’s obviously not the case this May, however, as Donald Trump and co begin discussions.
Where to shop?
Winding along, Corso Umberto is the chief shopping street and dotted with upscale independent clothing boutiques, all of them very chic. Early afternoon’s the savviest time to browse: many Italians will still be on their siesta.
Sights to see?
The main attraction is Taormina’s marvellously-preserved amphitheatre, built by the Greeks in 3 BC. Go first thing, about 8.30am, if possible, and you’ll dodge most of the day-trip crowds. When they arrive, walk slowly upwards to Castello di Taormina; this crumbling Saracen fortress affords divine vistas over the bay, town and skulking, smoking Etna.
Found centrally and run by the same family for over two decades, La Piazzetta is a relaxed joint specialising in typical Sicilian fare like risotto al mare. There’s a long wine list and charming courtyard seating, although you’re strongly advised to book ahead.
Where to stay?
We mostly send guests to the Hotel Villa Belvedere, a handsome, family-run residence boasting a large pool, cheery yellow walls and free shuttles down to pebble beach. Its position is excellent: on the quieter edge of town, near gorgeous gardens offering still more bay views, yet within easy strolling distance of all the action.
One last tip?
Don’t worry about hiring a car. The one-way system is stressful as it is, plus we can arrange airport transfers or there’s a bus into town. In terms of day-trips, the Baroque town of Syracuse, its old quarter suspended on an island called Ortygia, is just two hours away by train.