Published on January 30th, 2014 | by Ann Rickard0
The small-town beauty of Taormina in Sicily, spectacularly perched on a plateau below Mt Tauro, takes the breath away.
At 200 metres above sea level, Taormina boasts expansive sea and Mt Etna views and that means charm and allure at every turn, but it also means this is one expensive hot spot.
Taormina became fashionable with celebrities and the aristocracy in the 1920s, and even more so in the 1950s when it became known as a bathing resort and then celebrated for its film festival.
I know this because I read it in a guide book in our hotel on the first night in this ancient Sicilian town.
“Ava Gardner used to come here, to the restaurant near this hotel,” I read from the book to my husband as we revelled in the luxury and celebrity of the town.
“Oh, was she here last night?” he asked. He is obviously not an old-movie buff.
Liz Taylor, Richard Burton, D.H Lawrence, Truman Capote, Orson Welles, John Steinbeck, Tennessee Williams, along with artists and royalty have all embraced Taormina’s charms in the past.
But something more fascinating than celebrity chatter came to us the next day. As we strolled the cobbled streets looking at the stately buildings between glimpses of the dazzling ocean. We passed a large boarded construction site. Our guide told us it was supposed to be a new and much-needed car park but work had been halted on the project because Roman ruins had been found.
“This is a common occurrence whenever developers build anything here,” he told us.
“The island is riddled with ruins and it is so normal to stumble upon them, workers will keep quiet about it and not inform authorities because it means work will halt.”
Imagine that. Roman ruins beneath your feet at every turn of a shovel. What history.