Sun. That’s the title of the novella D. H. Lawrence wrote when he stayed in Taormina from 1921 to 1923, in the house on Via Fontana (the same one Truman Capote lived in thirty years later). The plot was simple. On the advice of her doctor, a New York woman travels to the Italian town, a place where the sun would help her recuperate. It is an evocative image, a beautiful place as a salve for body, mind and heart; a feeling of healthy pleasure that can still be felt today because this corner of Sicily has always remained true to itself. Even though it is on the sea, the main draw of the city is the pedestrian- only city center perched on a hill, 676 feet above sea level, so that its panoramic vistas change according to the time of day. For example, the morning light is the best for visiting the Greek Theater. The “gash” that time opened in its architecture has enriched it with a view of the Bay of Giardini Naxos, with the stark outline of Mount Etna in the background.
But the early afternoon is the perfect time to take the stairs to Piazzetta Isola Bella. In the past, Taormina fisherman took this path to the sea as well as to reach the Isolabella and Mazzarò beaches. Small stretches of gray-pebbled shores are enjoyable in the winter as well because the temperatures never drop below 59 °F and there are even people who go swimming in late December. The Sicilian coast vaunts an average of 2,665 hours of sun a year, so the climate creates a setting in which the classic Mediterranean maquis can be found alongside bougainvillea, palms and banana trees. After swimming and soaking up the sun, reserve a table overlooking the sea to taste the cuisine of Trattoria da Nino, but be sure to leave room for some cassata at the end of the meal.
Via Pirandello 37/A, tel. +39 0942 21265, trattoriadaninotaormina. com).
Taormina is one of Italy’s top towns in terms of friendliness and hospitality. This wonderful feeling is evident when you stroll down Corso Umberto to go shopping and enjoy street food. It would also be impossible not to chat with the sisters working at the Arancini in Corso rotisserie and learn the recipe for arancini, “balls” of rice filled with meat sauce and deep- fried. The owner of Bam Bar also eagerly tells the story of his locale, where you sit at ceramic tables and savor his famous granitas in natural flavors, everything from fig to almond. To spend the night in the style of Don Fabrizio Salina, the protagonist of Tomasi di Lampedusa novel The Leopard, try the suites at the San Domenico Palace, built in an ancient Dominican monastery (tel. +39 0942 613111, san-domenico-palace. com). The new NH Collection Taormina has a more contemporary style, built in a twentieth- century building, with a 5,400-square-foot terrace (+39 02 87367717, nh-hotels.it) so you can totally fill up on light and sunshine.