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Taormina:  On the Ironian Sea

Professor Arnie Greenberg


For me it was one of the most exciting towns I visited, if only for the location and view. But once I started walking around, I realized that there is much to draw a visitor here including, food, theatre, ancient architecture, history and a proximity to other attractions.

View from the Hotel

Excelsior Palace

I first arrived in the region on the coast of the Ionian in the ancient Greek port of Giardini Naxos. I was scouting the area for a tour I’d been thinking of. The Hellenia Yachting Hotel made my stay peaceful especially with a terrace looking out to sea. It was a place to just relax, with its restaurants and crafts shops along the beach. But when I looked at the panorama, my eye hit on a village that looked like it was perched on a mountaintop. Off I went and when I got to the top I knew I found the city that would attract anybody. The trip to the top was by cable car and what I found was a bustling city with some of the most incredible views. Below was Giardini Naxos and the coast. Here I could see Mount Etna always smoking and very much alive. I wandered to the edge of the city where I found the 5,400 seat Greco-Roman Theatre. Much of it had crumbled over the years but the spectator area and stage were rebuilt and I was in a 3rd century creation and the second largest Theatre of its kind in all of Sicily. It was here that modern theatre groups still performed Aeschylis, Sophocles, Euripedes and the comedies of Aristophanes.

Excelsior Palace

Street Scene

Here I saw Taormina stone in 50 x 120-meter slabs and I stood in an excavation that took 100,000 cubic meters of removed stone to create.

In the main square almost under the clock tower I munched on Canoli and bargained with street painters. I walked around the public gardens that seemed to hang from the hill and I visited some of the 18th and 19th century mansions.

I glimpsed at the aristocratic Villa Ducal Taormina at 60, Leonardo da Vinci with the idea of staying there one day. I also visited Hotel Villa Carlotta on via Pirandello, 81. Both would be good choices.

Then, at the far end of town I found the Hotel Excelsior Palace and wandered around its terraced lawns to the very edge of the mountain where people lolled around the manicured grounds and lovely swimming pool. Below was the Bay of Naxos where I was staying and all around were almond trees, oranges,  and prickly pears. The property was superbly designed and was bordered by Greco-Roman walls.

I sat in a café and struck up a conversation with a man from the tourist office. He told me that the sea was an important part of this towering city. Here, the locals would snorkel, scuba dive and go surfing. Sicily was apparently a fisherman’s Mecca with giant Tuna, sardines and swordfish serving the needs of the community. It was also a lemon growing area but you can add olives, peaches, oranges, mangoes, eggplants and almonds.

We chatted about food and the local favorites like Arancini, a Sicilian rice dish with parmesan, nutmeg, parsley, meat stock, onions, flour, eggs wine, grated bread and of course, olive oil.

When he talked dried bread with tomatoes, eggplant, butter, parsley, thyme, and eggs, seasoned cheese, fresh cream and Salt, I was hooked. “Even these Pistachio nuts we are eating, come from the region”, he added.

He agreed that the best time to go was in April or May, before it was too hot.

One might become interested in the history going back to 400 BC but I preferred to just sip my wine, eat the local delicacies, visit the Theatre, the squares and beautiful staircased streets.

View from the top

Taormina is a haven for those of you not in a hurry and if you need some exercise, there’s a beautiful 18-hole golf course only minutes away.

I knew I would return one day and I did.

Excelsior Palace Hotel  8, Via Toselli, Taormina

Museums & Street Art

Miro Painting 

Botero Cat 

Mus. Of Comtemporary Art  

Wax Museum

Foundation Tapies

Picasso Museum

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You can Contact Professor Arnie Greenberg at


Over the past few years, Professor Greenberg has traveled with groups to France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg, Prague and both Sorrento and the Bay of Naples plus most of Sicily. His tours traveled to the far reaches of the globe including Italy and most of China (Beijing -Hong Kong) and to Russia where his group cruised the waters from St.Petersburg to Moscow. 

"He took a group to Greece and another to northern Russia. In Nov 07 he took a tour group to much of India and ended his tour groups by revisiting France. He now travels with his wife and friends. They winter in Argentina or San Miguel Mexico.  His newly found spare time is taken up with his painting and writing. "I must write every day." His current work is a cautionary manual for would-be tour leaders..  "So You Want To Be A Tour Leader." 

Arnie now travels with friends. He continues writing Travel articles about unusual places but often concentrates on novel writing. Two books based on French Art will be published this year.  Keep reading his web for travel ideas.  His next novel HELLSTORM'S Folly, will be available this fall. He now lives in British Columbia.

Go to: or contact him directly at

(More about the writer.)


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Last Revised: Friday, May 15, 2015 06:38:58 AM
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