When you arrive in Taormina for your Italian course, the first thing to do is take the bus from the railway station up Mount Tauro to the centre. Taking the bus to Taormina is certainly an interesting experience, and for me brought back memories of the Italian Job! The driver was clearly an expert, and negotiated the tight bends at speed.
On arrival in Taormina, I dropped my luggage off at the hotel and headed out to explore the town. The first thing that struck me about Taormina was that it mainly consisted of a single street (the Corso Umberto) which is packed with shops, bars and lots of tourists.
Although you could be forgiven for thinking that a lot of tourists would spoil a location, in my opinion, the tourists give Taormina a lively feel and are a real asset.
It is nevertheless important to mention that once you leave the Corso Umberto and start exploring the narrow cobbled streets of the town, you find fewer tourists and the more traditional trattorias. So, Taormina also offers the ‘authentic Italian’ experience if that is what you’re looking for!
The main tourist sight in Taormina is the famous ‘Greek’ amphitheatre which is not actually Greek at all, having been rebuilt by the Romans in the 2nd Century BC.
It is certainly worth a visit simply because of the jaw-dropping views it offers. If you sit inside and look at the stage, behind you can see the backdrop of the Bay of Naxos and the smouldering Mount Etna.
In fact, during the summer, the theatre is still used for outdoor theatre and opera performances. I would have loved to have seen a performance during my visit, but I simply didn’t have time. If you’ve seen a performance in Taormina, let me know what it was like!
Taormina also has pebbly beaches which are accessed by a cable car down the side of the mountain. This takes just a few minutes and is not too high off the ground so there is no need to worry!
The beach is sheltered by the cliffs behind so it is very pleasant to spend some time relaxing there. The sea is very clear and warm and is great for taking a dip!
The school in Taormina is in one of the quieter parts of the town just next to the botanical gardens. The rooftop terrace (where students take a coffee break between lessons – see the picture below!) gives one of the most spectacular views available in the town and is an excellent feature.
The school is also particularly good at offering additional activities and excursions for students to take part in. These can range from film evenings at the school, seminars on various aspects of Italian culture and history (including the mafia – always a popular subject with the students!), hiking trips to Etna, scuba diving, horse-riding, theatre performances and much more!
I really enjoyed my trip to Taormina. I find Sicily a beautiful part of the world, and with a landscape and history which make a fascinating change to mainland Italy.