Taormina (Sicilian: Taurmina; Latin: Tauromenium; Greek: Ταυρομένιον, Tauromenion) is a comune (municipality) in the Metropolitan City of Messina, on the east coast of the island of Sicily, Italy. Taormina has been a tourist destination since the 19th century. Its beaches on the Ionian sea, including that of Isola Bella, are accessible via an aerial tramway built in 1992, and via highways from Messina in the north and Catania in the south. On May 26–27, 2017 Taormina hosted the 43rd G7 summit.
|Comune di Taormina|
Coat of arms
Location of Taormina
Location of Taormina in Italy
|Metropolitan city||Messina (ME)|
|Frazioni||Mazzeo, Trappitello, Villagonia, Chianchitta, Spisone, Mazzarò|
|• Mayor||Eligio Giardina|
|• Total||13.13 km2 (5.07 sq mi)|
|Elevation||204 m (669 ft)|
|• Density||830/km2 (2,100/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
|Patron saint||San Pancrazio di Taormina|
|Saint day||9 July|
|Website||Official website ‹See Tfd›(in Italian)|
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 apparently already a considerable town at the time of Timoleon's 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 (modern Reggio di Calabria) to Tauromenium. The city was at that time still under the government of Andromachus, whose mild and equitable administration is said to have presented a strong contrast with that of the despots and tyrants of the other Sicilian cities. 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 when all the other tyrants were expelled by Timoleon, but was permitted to retain it undisturbed till his death. Little is recorded about Tauromenium for some time after this. It is probable that it passed under the authority of Agathocles, who drove the historian Timaeus into exile; and some time after this it was subject to a domestic despot of the name of Tyndarion, who was contemporary with Hicetas of Syracuse and Phintias of Agrigentum. Tyndarion was one of those who concurred in inviting Pyrrhus into Sicily (278 BC), and when that monarch landed with his army at Tauromenium, joined him with all his forces, and supported him in his march upon Syracuse. 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. (Id. p. 497.) 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.
There is no doubt that Tauromenium continued to form a part of the kingdom of Syracuse until the death of Hieron, and that it only passed under the government of Rome when the whole island of Sicily was reduced to a Roman province; but we have scarcely any account of the part it took during the Second Punic War, though it would appear, from a hint in Appian, that it submitted to Marcellus on favorable terms; and it is probable that it was on that occasion it obtained the peculiarly favored position it enjoyed under the Roman dominion. For we learn from Cicero that Tauromenium was one of the three cities in Sicily which enjoyed the privileges of a civitas foederata or allied city, thus retaining a nominal independence, and was not even subject, like Messina, to the obligation of furnishing ships of war when called upon. The city, however, suffered severe calamities during the Servile War in Sicily (134–132 BC), having fallen into the hands of the insurgent slaves, who, on account of the great strength of its position, made it one of their chief posts, and were able for a long time to defy the arms of the consul Publius Rupilius. They held out until they were reduced to the most fearful extremities by famine, when the citadel was at length betrayed into the hands of the consul by one of their leaders named Sarapion, and the whole of the survivors put to the sword.
Tauromenium again played a conspicuous part during the wars of Sextus Pompeius in Sicily, and, from its strength as a fortress, was one of the principal points of the position which he took up in 36 BC, for defence against Octavian. It became the scene also of a sea-fight between a part of the fleet of Octavian, commanded by the triumvir in person, and that of Pompeius, which terminated in the defeat and almost total destruction of the latter. In the settlement of Sicily after the defeat of Pompeius, Tauromenium was one of the places selected by Augustus to receive a Roman colony, probably as a measure of precaution, on account of the strength of its situation, as we are told that he expelled the former inhabitants to make room for his new colonists. 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 it seems to have been one of the few cities of Sicily that continued under the Roman Empire to be a place of some consideration. 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.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Taormina continued to rank as one of the more important towns of Sicily, and because of the strength of its position was one of the last places that was retained by the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) emperors; but it was taken by the Fatimids in 962 after a siege of 30 weeks. Taormina was renamed "Al-Mu'izziyya" in honour of Caliph al-Mu'izz (reigned 953–75). Muslim rule of the town (see History of Islam in southern Italy) 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 German (imperial) 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. The troops sacked the town destroying the top part of the Middle Tower that divides Taormina between the ancient Greco-Roman section and the later medieval southern zone.
Under the Bourbon dynasty of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies, which lasted until 1860, Taormina did not have a relevant role; however, it obtained an easier access when part of the Catrabico promontory was partially cut and a seaside road connecting it to Messina and Catania was created. It received also a station on the second-oldest railroad in the region.
There is some speculation about Taormina being an early gentlemen's destination. Capri had a similar reputation, as tolerant of gay men and artists. Taormina's first important tourist was Johann Wolfgang Goethe, who exalted it in Italian Journey, a record of his 1786 journey published in 1816. Starting from the 19th century Taormina became a popular tourist resort in the whole of Europe: people who visited Taormina include Oscar Wilde, Nicholas I of Russia, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Nietzsche (who here wrote his Thus Spoke Zarathustra), Richard Wagner and many others. In the late 19th century the city gained further prominence as the place where Wilhelm von Gloeden worked most of his life as a photographer of predominantly male nudes.
Also credited for making Taormina popular was Otto Geleng (1843-1939), a German landscape painter who settled there from the 1860s. He was one of the first artists to capture the beauties of Sicily, and his exhibitions in Berlin and Paris lured northern Europeans to see for themselves. He married an Italian woman and settled in Taormina, renovating a palazzo into the first full-scale hotel to greet these visitors.
In 1905, the English artist Robert Hawthorn Kitson, heir to Kitson and Company but driven from Britain by homophobia, built a house in Taormina. He commissioned Frank Brangwyn to design murals and furniture for the Casa Cuseni. Alfred East also contributed. The property, including extensive gardens, was inherited by his niece Daphne Phelps just after World War II. She intended to sell, but ended up staying, running the place as a pensione for half a century, with guests such as Bertrand Russell, Roald Dahl, Henry Faulkner, and Tennessee Williams. In 1999 she wrote A House in Sicily about life in Taormina in general and Casa Cuseni in particular.
In 1907, the English architect C. R. Ashbee, a prime mover of the Arts and Crafts movement, came to Taormina on commission from an old client. Colonel Shaw-Hellier set him the task of designing the Villa San Giorgio,. Biographer Fiona MacCarthy judges it "the most impressive of Ashbee's remaining buildings"; it is run as the Hotel Ashbee.
During the early 20th century the town became a colony of expatriate artists, writers and intellectuals. Albert Stopford grew roses in his Edwardian garden; D. H. Lawrence stayed at the Fontana Vecchia from 1920 to 1922. (He wrote a number of his poems, novels, short stories and essays, and the travel book Sea and Sardinia.) Thirty years later, from April 1950 through September 1951, the same villa was home to Truman Capote, who wrote of his stay in the essay "Fontana Vecchia." Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais visited the place. Charles Webster Leadbeater, the theosophical author, found out that Taormina had the right magnetic fields for Jiddu Krishnamurti to develop his talents, so the young Krishnamurti spent part of 1912 in the city. By this time Taormina had become "a polite synonym for Sodom", as Harold Acton described it. Later, however, after the Second World War Acton was visiting Taormina with Evelyn Waugh and, coming upon a board advertising “Ye Olde English Teas” he sighed and commented that Taormina 'was now quite as boring as Bournemouth'.
Icelandic writer Halldór Laxness, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1955, wrote most of his first novel, Vefarinn mikli frá Kasmír ("The Great Weaver from Kashmir"), in Taormina which he then praised highly in his book of autobiographical essays, Skáldatími ("The Time of the Poet", 1963).
The 43rd G7 summit was held in the town on May 26–27, 2017.
The present town of Taormina occupies the ancient site, on a hill which forms the last projecting point of the mountain ridge that extends along the coast from Cape Pelorus to this point. The site of the old town is about 250 metres (820 ft) above the sea, while a very steep and almost isolated rock, crowned by a Saracen castle, rises about 150 metres (490 ft) higher. This is the likely site of the ancient Arx or citadel, an inaccessible position mentioned by ancient writers. Portions of the ancient walls may be traced at intervals all round the brow of the hill, the whole of the summit of which was occupied by the ancient city. Numerous fragments of ancient buildings are scattered over its whole surface, including extensive reservoirs of water, sepulchres, tessellated pavements, etc., and the remains of a spacious edifice, commonly called a Naumachia, but the real purpose of which it is difficult to determine.
The Ancient theatre of Taormina is built for the most part of brick, and is therefore probably of Roman date, though the plan and arrangement are in accordance with those of Greek, rather than Roman, theatres; whence it is supposed that the present structure was rebuilt upon the foundations of an older theatre of the Greek period. With a diameter of 109 metres (358 ft) (after an expansion in the 2nd century), this theatre is the second largest of its kind in Sicily (after that of Syracuse); it is frequently used for operatic and theatrical performances and for concerts. The greater part of the original seats have disappeared, but the wall which surrounded the whole cavea is preserved, and the proscenium with the back wall of the scena and its appendages, of which only traces remain in most ancient theatres, are here preserved in an uncommon state of integrity. From the fragments of architectural decorations still extant we learn that it was of the Corinthian order, and richly ornamented. Some portions of a temple are also visible, converted into the church of San Pancrazio, but the edifice is of small size.
Other sights include the 10th century Palazzo Corvaja, a 1635 Baroque fountain, the Church of San Domenico, the Anglican Church of Saint George, and the municipal gardens (Giardini della Villa Comunale).
Just south of Taormina is the Isola Bella, a nature reserve; and further south, situated beside a bay, is the popular seaside resort of Giardini Naxos. Tours of the Capo Sant'Andrea grottos are also available.
The town of Taormina is perched on a cliff overlooking the Ionian Sea. Besides the ancient Greek theatre, it has many old churches, lively bars, fine restaurants and antique shops. The Santuario Madonna della Rocca is one such church. Located on the slope above the town, it commands an impressive view of the coast and Mount Etna to the south, and is accessible on foot via the staired path, Salita Castello. Taormina is approximately a forty-five-minute drive away from Europe's largest active volcano, Mount Etna.
The Cole Porter song "Where is the Life That Late I Led" from the musical "Kiss Me, Kate" references Taormina.
The British songwriter Mark Knopfler evokes the town in his song "Lights of Taormina" in his 2015 album Tracker.
Many exhibitions and events are organized during the summer in Taormina. The exceptional stage for pop and classical concerts, opera and important performances often recorded by television (for example, the ceremony of the Silver Ribbon Award, the Festivalbar, the Kore) is the Ancient Theatre. Since 1983, the most important performances are realized by Taormina Arte, the cultural institution which organizes a music, theatre and dance festivals.
Within the program of Taormina Arte there is the Taormina Film Fest, the heir of the Cinema Festival of Messina and Taormina, dating from 1960, which for about twenty years has hosted the David of Donatello Awards. During the Taormina Film Fest the Silver Ribbons are awarded, a prize created by Italian Film Journalists.
Since 2005, in October, Taormina Arte has organized the Giuseppe Sinopoli Festival, a festival dedicated to its late artistic director.
At the end of the twelfth century ... While in Apulia Greeks were in a majority – and indeed present in any numbers at all – only in the Salento peninsula in the extreme south, at the time of the conquest they had an overwhelming preponderance in Lucaina and central and southern Calabria, as well as comprising anything up to a third of the population of Sicily, concentrated especially in the north-east of the island, the Val Demone.
The 43rd G7 summit was held on May 26–27, 2017 in Taormina (ME), Sicily, Italy. In March 2014, the G7 declared that a meaningful discussion was currently not possible with Russia in the context of the G8. Since then, meetings have continued within the G7 process.
It was the first time since 1987 that the G7 summit held in Italy was not hosted by Silvio Berlusconi. The participation of Angela Merkel and Theresa May made it the first time two G7 female leaders were principals in the G7 summit.
The choice of Taormina as the headquarters of the G7 was announced by the then Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on 4 July 2016. The summit was initially scheduled to take place in Florence. Among the reasons for the change of choice, Renzi cited the words of an international leader at a previous summit that with a joke had highlighted his prejudice against Sicily pointing out as the land of the Mafia and claimed that those words had convinced him to fix the G7 in Sicily.Ancient theatre of Taormina
The Ancient theatre of Taormina ("Teatro antico di Taormina" in Italian) is an ancient Greek theatre in Taormina, Sicily, built in the third century BC.Battle of Caltavuturo
The Battle of Caltavuturo was fought in 881 or 882 between the Byzantine Empire and the Aghlabid emirate of Ifriqiya, during the Muslim conquest of Sicily. It was a major Byzantine victory, although it could not reverse the Muslim conquest of Sicily.
In 880, a succession of naval successes under the admiral Nasar allowed the Byzantine emperor Basil I the Macedonian to envisage a counter-offensive against the Aghlabids in southern Italy and Sicily. In Sicily, however, the Aghlabids still held the upper hand: in spring 881, the Aghlabid governor al-Hasan ibn al-Abbas raided the remaining Byzantine territories and in the process defeated the local commander, Barsakios, near Taormina.In the next year, however, AH 268 (881/882 CE), according to the Ibn al-Athir (The Complete History, VII.370.5–7), the Byzantines had their revanche, defeating an Aghlabid army under Abu Thawr so completely that reportedly only seven men survived. The victorious Byzantine commander is identified by modern historians with Mosilikes, who is known to have served in the area in the early 880s. According to the hagiography of the Patriarch of Constantinople Ignatios, the general invoked the patriarch during the battle, and he appeared on a white horse in the air before him, advising him to launch his attack towards the right. Mosilikes followed the advice, and won. The battle gave its name to the locality: the 12th-century geographer Muhammad al-Idrisi records the Qalʿat Abī Ṯawr ("Castle of Abū Ṯawr"), which is the origin of the modern name Caltavuturo.Over the next years, the Muslims launched several raids, against Catania, Taormina and "the king's city" (possibly Polizzi) in 883, against Rometta and Catania in 884, and again against Catania and Taormina in 885. These expeditions were successful in so far as they yielded sufficient booty or tribute to pay the army, but failed to capture any Byzantine strongholds.Battle of the Straits
The Battle of the Straits (Arabic: waqʿat al-majāz) was fought in early 965 between the fleets of the Byzantine Empire and the Fatimid Caliphate in the Straits of Messina. It resulted in a major Fatimid victory, and the final collapse of the attempt of Emperor Nikephoros II Phokas to recover Sicily from the Fatimids.Bloom (film)
Bloom is a 2003 Irish film written and directed by Sean Walsh, based on the novel Ulysses by James Joyce. The film premiered at the 2003 Taormina Film Festival. Angeline Ball won the award for "Best Actress in a Film" at the Irish Film and Television Awards. The soundtrack was written and produced by David Kahne.
In 1967, the novel Ulysses was made into a film of the same name.Castelmola
Castelmola (Sicilian: Castermula) is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Messina in the Italian region Sicily, located about 170 kilometres (110 mi) east of Palermo and about 40 kilometres (25 mi) southwest of Messina. As of 31 December 2004, it had a population of 1,107 and an area of 16.4 square kilometres (6.3 sq mi).Castelmola borders the following municipalities: Gaggi, Letojanni, Mongiuffi Melia, Taormina.Francavilla di Sicilia
Francavilla di Sicilia (Sicilian: Francavigghia) is a town and comune in the Metropolitan City of Messina on the island of Sicily, southern Italy.
It has a population of about 3,900 people and is situated in the southern part of the province, close to the northern slopes of Mount Etna. The distance to Messina is about 50 kilometres (31 mi), and the town is about 70 kilometres (43 mi) from Catania airport, in the valley of the River Alcantara between Taormina and Randazzo. Taormina and the Mediterranean Sea are about 15 kilometres (9 mi) to the southeast.
Neighboring towns and villages include: Antillo, Castiglione di Sicilia, Fondachelli-Fantina, Malvagna, Montalbano Elicona, Motta Camastra, Novara di Sicilia and Tripi.Gaggi
Gaggi (Sicilian: Caggi) is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Messina in the Italian region of Sicily, located about 160 kilometres (99 mi) east of Palermo and about 45 kilometres (28 mi) southwest of Messina. As of 31 December 2004, it had a population of 2,812 and an area of 7.3 square kilometres (2.8 sq mi).The municipality of Gaggi contains the frazioni (subdivisions, mainly villages and hamlets) Cavallaro, Palmara, Falcò, Costa arancione, and Billirè. Gaggi borders the following municipalities: Castelmola, Castiglione di Sicilia, Graniti, Mongiuffi Melia, Taormina.Giardini Naxos
Giardini Naxos (Sicilian: Giaddini) is a comune in the Metropolitan City of Messina on the island of Sicily in southern Italy. It is situated on the coast of the Ionian Sea on a bay which lies between Cape Taormina and Cape Schisò. Since the 1970s it has become a seaside-resort.Madreterra
"Madreterra" is the official anthem of Sicily since 2003. It was the first regional anthem in Italy, and was written by Vincenzo Spampinato, whom was chosen after an official competition. However, other songs (notably, Suoni la tromba, English translation: Blare the trumpet) have been traditionally regarded as national anthems of Sicily. The lyrics are in Italian. Madreterra was performed in public for the first time at the Ancient theatre of Taormina on 14 June 2003 by the Sicilian Symphony Orchestra and the Musa 2000 Choir.Matt Taormina
Matthew Angelo Taormina (born October 20, 1986) is an American professional ice hockey defenseman playing within the Calgary Flames organization of the National Hockey League (NHL).Muslim conquest of Sicily
The Muslim conquest of Sicily began in June 827 and lasted until 902, when the last major Byzantine stronghold on the island, Taormina, fell. Isolated fortresses remained in Byzantine hands until 965, but the island was henceforth under Muslim rule until conquered in turn by the Normans in the 11th century.
Although Sicily had been raided by the Muslims since the mid-7th century, these raids did not threaten Byzantine control over the island, which remained a largely peaceful backwater. The opportunity for the Aghlabid emirs of Ifriqiya came in 827, when the commander of the island's fleet, Euphemius, rose in revolt against the Byzantine Emperor Michael II. Defeated by loyalist forces and driven from the island, Euphemius sought the aid of the Aghlabids. The latter regarded this as an opportunity for expansion and for diverting the energies of their own fractious military establishment and alleviate the criticism of the Islamic scholars by championing jihad, and dispatched an army to aid him. Following the Arab landing on the island, Euphemius was quickly sidelined. An initial assault on the island's capital, Syracuse, failed, but the Muslims were able to weather the subsequent Byzantine counter-attack and hold on to a few fortresses. With the aid of reinforcements from Ifriqiya and al-Andalus, in 831 they took Palermo, which became the capital of the new Muslim province.
The Byzantine government sent a few expeditions to aid the locals against the Muslims, but preoccupied with the struggle against the Abbasids on their eastern frontier and with the Cretan Saracens in the Aegean Sea, it was unable to mount a sustained effort to drive back the Muslims, who over the next three decades raided Byzantine possessions almost unopposed. The strong fortress of Enna in the centre of the island was the main Byzantine bulwark against Muslim expansion, until its capture in 859. Following its fall, the Muslims increased their pressure against the eastern parts of the island, and after a long siege captured Syracuse in 878. The Byzantines retained control of some fortresses in the north-eastern corner of the island for some decades thereafter, and launched a number of efforts to recover the island until well into the 11th century, but were unable to seriously challenge Muslim control over Sicily. The fall of the last major Byzantine fortress, Taormina, in 902, is held to mark the completion of the Muslim conquest of Sicily.
Under Muslim rule, Sicily prospered and eventually detached itself from Ifriqiya to form a semi-independent emirate. The island's Muslim community survived the Norman conquest in the 1060s and even prospered under the Norman kings, giving birth to a unique cultural mix, until it was deported to Lucera in the 1220s after a failed uprising.Naxos (Sicily)
Naxos or Naxus (Greek: Νάξος) was an ancient Greek city of Sicily on the east coast of the island between Catana (modern Catania) and Messana (modern Messina). It was situated on a low point of land at the mouth of the river Acesines (modern Alcantara), and at the foot of the hill on which was afterwards built the city of Tauromenium (modern Taormina).Pancras of Taormina
Saint Pancras or Pancratius (Greek: Ἅγιος Παγκράτιος, Hagios Pankratios; Latin: Sanctus Pancratius; Italian: San Pancrazio; Church Slavonic: Свѧтый Панкратїй, Svjatyj Pankratij) is said to have been born in Antioch in Cilicia (the modern Adana).Sheila Taormina
Sheila Christine Taormina (born March 18, 1969) is an American former athlete who competed at four Olympics (1996, 2000, 2004, 2008), and was the first woman to qualify for the Olympics in three different sports (swimming, triathlon and modern pentathlon). At the 1996 Summer Olympics, she earned a gold medal as a member of the winning U.S. team in the women's 4×200-meter freestyle relay. She was inducted in 2015 into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame.Siege of Taormina (962)
The Siege of Taormina in 962 was a successful siege by the Fatimid governors of Sicily of the main Byzantine fortress on the island, Taormina.Taormina Film Fest
Taormina Film Fest (TFF), a historic film festival that began in 1955 under the name Rassegna Cinematografica Internazionale di Messina e Taormina. The exhibition, which moved permanently to Taormina in 1971, has hosted over the years many stars of international cinema: Elizabeth Taylor, Marlene Dietrich, Sophia Loren, Cary Grant, Robert De Niro, Colin Firth, Marlon Brando, Charlton Heston, Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck, Tom Cruise, Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas, among others. The Festival is an "A" Festival in FIAP accreditation. The award is the Nastro d'Argento in Italian cinema (Silver Ribbon).Tristan Taormino
Tristan Taormino (born May 9, 1971) is an American feminist author, columnist, sex educator, activist, editor, speaker, radio host, and pornographic film director (she also appeared in three films, two of which she directed, 1999–2000).Wilhelm von Gloeden
Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden (September 16, 1856 – February 16, 1931) was a German photographer who worked mainly in Italy. He is mostly known for his pastoral nude studies of Sicilian boys, which usually featured props such as wreaths or amphoras suggesting a setting in the Greece or Italy of antiquity. From a modern standpoint, his work is commendable due to his controlled use of lighting as well as the often elegant poses of his models. His innovations include the use of photographic filters and special body makeup (a mixture of milk, olive oil, and glycerin) to disguise skin blemishes.