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Taormina

4It's the main touristic site in Sicily and among the most important ones in the Mediterranean. From the XVIII century, the city attracted many British, French and German travellers,

considering it a fundamental step in the Italian Grand Tour. Guy de Maupassant, Alexandre Dumas, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, edmondo de Amicis were some of its best visitors. Placed in a wonderful site, Taormina offers enchanting views on Etna and on the bay of Giardini Naxos and many wonderful monuments. The site was already inhabited by the Siculians, but the Greek colony was founded in 358 b.C. By Greek colonists, coming from the near city of Naxos, first Greek colony in Sicily (founded in the middle of the VIII cent. b.C.), destroted by Syracuse's tyrant Dyonisius I, in 403 b.C. In 212 b.C., it was conquered by Rome, but it always kept its Greek roots. Seat of a bishop, during the Christian era, Taormina passed then to the Eastern Roman Empire and, when the Arabs came, it was one of the last byzantine strongholds to fall, in 902, after a great resistance. Anyway, also here the Arabs took their knowledge in agriculture and science. With the Normans, Taormina developed greatly both commercially and artistically, and that lasted until the reign of

 

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 Frederick II (middle of the XIII cent.). Then, Taormina lived the long period of wars between Angevins and Aragonese. In 1410, the Sicilian parliament was held here, that decided to elect as king Martino il Vecchio. With the Aragonese, Taormina, had again a big development. In 1860, Taormina participated to the revolts for Italian unity.1

 

La vita della città è incentrata sull'asse centrale di Corso Umberto. City's life lies first of all along the main street, Corso Umberto. Among the most important monuments, Palazzo Corvaja. It was built in different periods (from the XI to the XV centuries). It has an Arab tower and a XV-century façade with mullioned windows and Norman decorations. In the interior, a courtyard with XIV-century stairs, and with a balcony with panels on the History of Christ. Among all monuments, anyway, the most important is the Greek Theatre. It's the second biggest theatre in Sicily, after the one in Syracuse; what we see today is a Roman reconstruction (II cent. A.D. Of a pre-existing hellenistic theatre (III cent. b.C.). Here, the beauty of the theatre is accompanied by the wonderful panorama on Mount Etna and the bay of Giardini Naxos.

 

The Naumachie are one of the most important Roman monuments in Sicily: there's a wall, more than 120 metres long, with many niches, and it contained an enormous cistern. The Cathedral of Taormina, devoted to St. Nicholas, has a XIII-century structure,


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 with later modifications. The main portal was made in the XVII cent., the secondary one in the XV cent., while the rose-window dates back to the XVI cent. In the interior, one can admire paintings going back to the XVI and XVII centuries. Remarkable is the Palazzo dei Duchi di S. Stefano, a palace-tower, built in the XIII century on what remained of the Arab city walls. The façade offers extremely elegant mullioned windows and friezes, with the use of lavic stone. In the interior, one can admire a wide hall, with a vault and with a central column. Important is the Castle, probably built by the Arabs, from which one can admire a wonderful panorama; it lies on the site of the ancient acropolis. A relaxing and attractive place is surely the Villa Comunale (Municipal Garden), offering a wonderful panorama on Mount Etna and on the bay of Giardini Naxos, which was before part of a big villa, belonging to an English noblewoman. 

 

 

 
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