Taormina: an insider’s guide

9 June 2023
Written by The Italy Insider
Insider's Guide

There are two reasons as to why Taormina is the star of the Italian summer 2023. The first being that it is THE Sicilian town of the Grand Tour and of the Film Festival and secondly, the White Lotus has taken it back into the spotlight, being partly filmed in the historic halls of the San Domenico Palace completely renovated as Four Seasons Hotel.

There’s a boom in bookings this year resulting in many places sold out until the end of the summer and beyond. This is also the year of an important anniversary for Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo: this five-star hotel has made Taormina’s history by hosting stars and intellectuals for 150 years, and it is in continuous evolution since being part of the LVMH group who is focusing on the destination with the opening of a Dior boutique in 2022 and, soon, a Louis Vuitton. Along with these international brands come a flower and ceramics store by Vincenzo D’Ascanio, a renowned Italian flower designer, and that of the super-colourful designer Double J.

Taormina has been famous as a sort of bucolic Arcadia for its marvellous location overlooking beautiful beaches and for one of the world’s best-preserved Hellenic amphitheater, still a stage for shows and concerts with the sea in the backdrop, but what definitely captivates visitors is its slow lifestyle, punctuated by an almond granita with brioche at one of its traditional cafes in Piazza IX Aprile, a stroll down Corso Umberto, or a visit to the typical ateliers where artisans and artists still create unique handmade objects.  

Teatro Greco, Taormina
Isola Bella

What to do

Rent a boat 

To enjoy even better the romantic bays of Taormina rent a boat for a day to explore the coast. A day immersed in the relaxing crystalline water admiring la Grotta Azzurra, l’Isola Bella e il Capo Taormina.


A unique journey on board the historic Ferrorivia Circumetnea, with a panoramic view of the coast and of the natural habitat that surrounds Mount Etna. In three hours you will be able to see not only the beautiful rural Sicilian landscape but also small villages where the pistachio, citrus fruits and fig plantations grow. During the journey stop in Randazzo to visit the village and taste an incredible granita ad Pasticceria Santo Musumeci. You take the train at Linguarossa, only 30 minutes away from Taormina. WEBSITE

lemon tour and cooking class

Giusi Murabito is a translator and molecular biologist in love with her land, Sicily. Guisi will take you on a guided visit to a natural paradise: a farm filled with lemon, orange, mandarin, grapefruit, avocado, walnut, hazelnut and almond trees (as well as many more). You’ll then begin a cooking class and learn to make traditional recipes followed by a lunch/brunch or dinner accompanied by Etna wines and fresh juice drinks. There’s also the possibility to have a boat tour along the lava coast of La Timpa. WEBSITE

visit Casa Cuseni

Casa Cuseni was the first hotel for artists, opening its doors in 1947 and since then, welcomed world-renowned names from Ernest Hemingway to Lord Bertrand Russell, Pablo Picasso, Henry Faulkner, Salvador Dali and many others who felt inspired by the mesmerising landscape that surrounds it. Today, Casa Cuseni is a museum of fine arts that guards many treasures as well as one of the most beautiful panoramas over Taormina. WEBSITE

Casa Cuseni. Ph. Credits Roberta Mazzone
Casa Cuseni. Ph. Credits Roberta Mazzone
Views of Etna from Casa Cuseni. Ph. Credits Roberta Mazzone

what to see

Teatro Greco 

One of the most important historic monuments of Taormina is Teatro Greco, even known as Teatro Antico. With an amazing view of the gulf, the theatre was originally built in the 3rd Century BC by the Greeks to host dramatic and musical plays. Later on during the Roman period the theatre was transformed into a place for gladiator games and naval battles. 

Radicepura Horticultural Park

This is the biggest horticultural park in Sicily, covering 5 hectares. It’s located in the shadow of Mount Etna where the rich fertile soil has fostered the growth of over 5,000 varieties and 3,000 species of plants. The park also hosts a botanical festival with beautiful gardens created by the most important landscape artists and garden designers. WEBSITE

Where to eat 

Fine Dining

Otto Geleng

Enter the Otto Geleng Salotto and taste Chef Roberto Toros’ Mediterranean menu created with local fish and vegetables. Thanks to the natural ingredients of the region, the Chef wants to take its clients on a nostalgic culinary journey. WEBSITE

La Capinera 

Surrounded by the beautiful sea of Taormina, La Capinera will welcome you to its elegant and refined terrace. Chef Pietro d’Agostino uses mostly Sicilian ingredients: fish of the day, local olive oils, Giarratana onions, salt from the island of Mozia, cheese and fresh ricotta to reinterpret typical Sicilian dishes. WEBSITE

St George by Heinz Beck

Heinz Beck is one of the oldest 3-Michelin-star hotels in Italy. With the aim of using local and seasonal products, the St. George Restaurant by Heinz Beck offers a unique menu that is always in evolution. WEBSITE


Teatro 44 

A young and refined restaurant just a few steps from Taormina’s Teatro Antico. Innovative cuisine with a Sicilian vocation and cozy atmosphere. 


Located in a lovely and peaceful garden in the heart of Taormina. At Kuttigghiu you will taste good cocktails, typical dishes and a very good pizza. Combine the menu with the best Sicilian wines. WEBSITE


At Adduma you will taste deliciously grilled food, a selection of fine spirits and exceptional wines, all made even more special by the traditional Sicilian welcome. WEBSITE

Dinner at Otto Geleng

Bistrot du Monde 

The Bistrot du Monde kitchen offers fresh seafood specialties, first courses coming from the Sicilian tradition and international gastronomy. Located in a modern and well-kept environment with the possibility to eat outside in a characteristic alley of the historic center of Taormina. WEBSITE 

ristorante da Nino

A very casual eatery much loved by the locals where you’ll savour simple but flavoured cuisine that follow the recipes of the past. The menu is centred around fresh catch of the day. WEBSITE

Caffe & breakfast


A traditional and historic bar that tells the story of the original Sicilian Granita. Made with seasonal fruits, at the Bambar you will find the authentic flavours and brioches perfect for a Sicilian breakfast or mid-afternoon snack.  

Bar Pirandello x Granita

A very simple, local bar with one of the best granitas (and no queue).  

Pasticceria Minotauro 

A family-run pastry shop located in Taormina, that prepares traditional Sicilian pastries with local ingredients. From cannoli filled with fresh fruits to the Minne di Sant’Agata.

Bambar Taormina



Casa Morgana, Taormina

A place where you enter and escape from reality. Beautifully designed with a tropical, international ambiance embellished with works by artist Alessandro Florio. Expect an excellent night of well-balanced cocktails created by Christian Sciglio and a young, fun and funky feel. WEBSITE


One of the Planeta wineries, located on the northern slopes of Mount Etna. This winery also starred in The White Lotus episode and you can actually re-live the same tour as in the series: a leisurely stroll among the vineyards, a wine tasting of five labels accompanied by a light lunch and an olive oil tasting. There are other experiences available on the WEBSITE.

Tenuta Tascante

Tasca d’Almerita launched the Tascante project in 2007 when Alberto Tasca purchased the vineyard on Mount Etna. There are various experiences connected with the Tascante vineyard with one being the Three Keys of Etna, a sensorial journey through the terraced vineyards followed by a tasting of three unique wines with the chance to savour traditional black pig meat from the Nebrodi mountains. WEBSITE


The Graci vineyard is situated on the North slope of Mount Etna, with only indigenous grapes growing between 600 and 1,000 metres above sea level. You can book for a wine tour and tasting of the white, red and rosé produced. WEBSITE


A warm, family environment with over sixty years of history in which the Cambria family harvest by hand and produce an excellent list of wines. White, rosé, red and a Metodo Classico made with the 100% Nerello Mascalese (one of the most important examples of autochthonous grapes in Sicily). At Cottanera you can embark on a few experiences from the brief explanation of the winery’s history and tasting of three wines to a cellar visit, walk among the vineyards as well as a wonderful culinary proposal or traditional ‘street foods’: arancini, Sausage of the wild black boar of the Nebrodi region, cured meat and cheese platter as well as well as home baked bread with their own production of olive oil. There is also a more technical experience for wine connoisseurs that includes an explanation of the vintage wines. WEBSITE


Alessandro Florio

A painter and a classics and visionary tattoo artist at his vero own Puto Amor Tattoo studio. Alessandro creates exquisite, intricate and deep art as well as collaborating with important businesses in Taormina such as Morgana and Belmond. WEBSITE

Gaetano Mirisciotti

Gaetano Mirisciotti learned precious techniques from the most famous ceramists of Caltagirone and brought his expertise to Taormina where he creates vases, plates and decorative items with passion. Mirisciotti finds inspiration in museums and churches, which reflects the intricate detailing on each item. WEBSITE

Tino Giammona

Tino has always worked in his home-studio in Taormina, creating 18th century paintings on old and new furniture, glass paintings and Sicilian 19th century naive painting, Tino is an eclectic artist who finds in his works the perfect balance between inspiration, freedom, tradition and sacredness. WEBSITE

Michael Samperi

Michael Sampieri creates the most exquisite inlays on marble from tables to wall plaques and decorations. WEBSITE

Works of Alessandro Florio

Where to sleep

La Bergerie 

With a breathtaking view of the beautiful Isola Bella surrounded by the azure waters of the sea, La Bergerie is located in a strategic place halfway between the center of Taormina and the marvelous beaches that surround the Isola Bella. A typical Sicilian home from the ‘800, used as a sheepfold, from which the name ‘La Bergerie’ comes from. Attention to small details and an amazing view on the bay makes the rooms and suites the perfect place for a traditional stay. WEBSITE

Villa Sant’Andrea

Brizza restaurant

Built by an aristocratic family in 1919 in the romantic Bay of Mazzarò, surrounded by a beautiful subtropical garden, the Villa Sant’Andrea still has the charming atmosphere of a private residence. Elegant design, refined artworks and pure materials emphasise the beauty of the suites, bringing out a timeless Italian style. Ristorante Sant’Andrea is the perfect place to taste delicious Mediterranean dishes while admiring the bay whereas for the ultimate romantic dinner book a table at Brizza for fresh fish in a pieds-dans-l’eau environment. The villa offers a beautiful swimming pool, a relaxing private beach club and a wellness center with massage beds that face the sea. Belmond also has a second hotel in Taormina built adjacent to the fascinating ancient architecture of the Greek Theatre, with a panoramic terrace and a Michelin starred restaurant. WEBSITE

San Domenico Palace 

Swimming pool at San Domenico Palace

Overlooking the beautiful Ionian Sea, in a 14th-century convent, we find the San Domenico Palace. Take a dive in the infinity pool that is built just by the cliff, walk in the relaxing gardens of the hotel, or explore the beauty of Taormina. The hotel also offers Michelin-starred restaurants, where you can taste exquisite Mediterranean cuisine. The rooms have a light and delicate colour palette, with contemporary furniture, creating a calm atmosphere for your stay. WEBSITE


Located in the heart of one of the most beautiful Sicilian city, we find Palazzo Vecchio Taormina. A 5-starred boutique hotel, with an elegant and refined soul, that wants to welcome its guests in a typical Taomina home surrounded by art, tradition and a contemporary vision. WEBSITE

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