Taormina, is a small city and comune in the Metropolitan City of Messina on the east coast of the island of Sicily, Italy, midway between Messina and Catania. Taormina has been a tourist destination since the 19th century and its beaches, the most famous being Isola Bella are accessible via an aerial tramway built in 1992 on the Ionian sea and via highways from Messina in the north and Catania in the south. The area around Taormina was inhabited by the Siculi even before the Greeks arrived on the Sicilian coast in 734 BC to found a town called Naxos, the theory that Tauromenion was founded by colonists from Naxos is confirmed by Strabo and other ancient writers. The new settlement seems to have risen rapidly to prosperity, and was already a considerable town at the time of Timoleons expedition in 345 BC. It was the first place in Sicily where that leader landed, having eluded the vigilance of the Carthaginians, who were guarding the Straits of Messina, and crossed direct from Rhegium to Tauromenium. He welcomed Timoleon with open arms, and afforded him a secure resting place until he was enabled to carry out his plans in other parts of Sicily. Andromachus was not deprived of his position of power all the other tyrants were expelled by Timoleon. Little is recorded about Tauromenium for some time after this, a few years later we find that Tauromenium had fallen into the power of Hieron II of Syracuse, and was employed by him as a stronghold in the war against the Mamertines. It was also one of the cities which was left under his dominion by the treaty concluded with him by the Romans in 263 BC. Strabo speaks of it as one of the cities on the east coast of Sicily that was still subsisting in his time, though inferior in population both to Messana and Catana. Both Pliny and Ptolemy assign it the rank of a colonia and its territory was noted for the excellence of its wine, and produced also a kind of marble which seems to have been highly valued. Juvenal also speaks of the sea off its rocky coast as producing the choicest mullets, the Itineraries place Tauromenium 32 miles from Messina, and the same distance from Catania. Taormina was renamed Al-Muizziyya in honour of Caliph al-Muizz, muslim rule of the town lasted until 1078, when it was captured by the Norman count Roger I of Sicily. At this time Taormina and the surrounding Val Demone were still predominately Greek speaking, after the fall of the Normans and of their heirs, the Hohenstaufen, Taormina followed the history of Sicily under the Angevins and then the Crown of Aragon. In 1410 King Martin II of Sicily was elected here by the Sicilian Parliament, later Taormina was under Spanish suzerainty, receiving the status of city in the 17th century. In 1675 it was besieged by the French, who had occupied Messina and it received also a station on the second-oldest railroad in the region. In the late 19th century Taormina gained further prominence as the place where Wilhelm von Gloeden worked most of his life as a photographer of predominantly male nudes, there is some speculation about Taormina being an early gentlemens destination. Also credited for making Taormina popular was Otto Geleng, best known in his hometown of Berlin for his fine paintings, what distinguishes Geleng, however, is his choice to depict the more southern regions where he captured the spectacular views and light of Sicily
Image: Taormina pjt 1
Taormina seen from Mount Venere, in the Peloritani mountains.
View of the Taormina coast.
Taormina as seen from the Saracen castle overlooking the town. The theatre is visible in the distance.