Taormina is a hill town on the east coast of Sicily. It is located near Mount Etna, an active volcano with paths that reach the top.
The city is known for the Ancient Theater of Taormina, an ancient Greek-Roman theater still in operation today. Near the theater, the cliffs that descend to the sea form inlets with sandy beaches.
A narrow strip of sand connects to the tiny Isola Bella, which has been a nature reserve since 1998 when it first passed under the management of the WWF, then of the Cutgana. Today these contribute to making this place remain a corner of paradise.
The cultural heritage of Taormina is a journey through the history of its influences and its dominations that have left traces to which the city owes the charm and popularity it enjoys all over the world.
The Taormina Foundation remains uncertain and little is known about it. According to the historian Diodorus Siculus, the city was founded around 396 BC. by some indigenous Sicilians.
Dionysius the Elder tried to conquer it in 394 BC. without success. Only two years later he succeeded in annexing the city to the territory of Syracuse, thanks to the treaty stipulated with the Carthaginians.
Despite this, the Greek city was founded only in 358 BC, when Andromachus gathered the survivors of Naxos and their descendants and brought them to the site that took the name of Tauromènio.
The city later passed under the Roman domination, which created one of the symbols of the city: the Naumachie. That is the terracing which included a cistern connected to an aqueduct. It was under the influence of Byzantium that Taormina became the capital of eastern Sicily, acquiring an important role for the Eastern Roman Empire, until the arrival of the Arabs who stopped in the city from 902 to 1079, followed by the conquer of the Normans and the Spaniards.
Myths, legends and the origin of the name
The name Tauromenium, now transformed into Taormina, means dwelling on the Tauro, that is the mountain on which it was built.
The historian Diodorus, as mentioned above, attributed the assignment of the name to the city to both the Sicilians and the Greeks.
However, there are numerous legends that make the name derive from other sources. One speaks of a Minotaur who even appears in ancient coins, to whom the foundation and the name of the city are attributed. Another tells of two princes of Palestine, Taurus and Mena, who would have founded the city giving it the name “Tauromena”.
However, many other legends revolve around Taormina: some of them have Pythagoras as their protagonist. He would have spoken on the same day both in Taormina and in Metaponto, he would have adopted the laws of Caronda in Taormina and calmed down the vehemence of a young local by playing his flute. In honor of the true Pythagoras lived in a completely different historical period from the one in which Tauromenium was founded.