The Pearl of the Ionian and her sisters
Small sandy beaches alternating with pebble-lined shores and rocks welcome you at the feet of delightful seaside villages with an authentic and hospitable atmosphere, diving into a turquoise sea with emerald hues. Thanks to the exceptional jubilation of multicoloured scented flowers and flourishing sun kissed Mediterranean vegetation, the Northern Ionian Coast between Messina and Catania is considered to be the exotic heart of Sicily: those in search of the sea will find more than one reason in the Taormina Etna District to visit an enchanting coast, dive into blue waters which, thanks to the sea currents, have always a pleasant temperature, and explore animated sea beds just waiting to be discovered, characterised by bright, ever-changing colours.
The sea of Taormina is undeniably beautiful. This maritime pole is represented by the beaches of the Bay of Mazzarò, a characteristic and exclusive seaside destination, famed for its prestigious cultural heritage and the local gastronomy, featuring fish fished fresh from the sea.
The so-called “Pearl of the Ionian Sea”, is home to the Isola Bella Nature Reserve, a little piece of uncontaminated nature, set between sea and dry land and connected to the latter by a slender strip of sand, continuously moulded by the currents and the sea. The Reserve’s rich fauna, flora which is unique in the world and includes the Taormina Cornflower and the Limonium Ionicum, and sea beds which guard precious shipwrecks and archaeological finds can be visited all year round, thanks to the mild Mediterranean climate which allows pleasant stays from February to November.
Near the beach, you can admire the bay, protected by the cliff faces of the two promontories: to the north, Capo Sant’Andrea, which hosts the famous Grotta Azzurra, protects the bay from the northeast and east winds, while to the south, Capo Taormina, with its striking stacks, protects the bay from the west wind. Either you prefer to be delighted by the romance of the dawn from Capo Sant’Andrea or give in to the flames of sunset in Capo Taormina, you’ll discover a palette of colours which is constantly changing and unique, the intensity of which is destined to increase or lessen depending on the seasons.
And under the sea, at a depth of just a few metres, you’ll discover an underwater world populated by a multitude of multicoloured fish, dancing in breathtaking choreographic arrangements. Enchanting landscapes await you at the Bay of Spisone, part of the history and the legend of Taormina.
The impressive profile of the two cliffs and the golden lidos, closed off on one side by the Saracen Castle of Capo Sant’ Alessio and, on the other, by the Bay of Mermaids with the charm of the Strait of Messina, frames one of the most spectacular beaches of Taormina. Another worth visiting place is Giardini Naxos: the first Greek colony in Sicily and also an exclusive seaside resort, dominated by Etna, which will offer you pleasant days on the beach, sport and relaxation, thanks to the clear waters, equipped beaches and adorable climate.
Further south, an unusual and atmospheric landscape awaits you in Letojanni, a little fishing village which has dedicated a festival to the sea: every summer, in August, seven Sicilian carts drawn by horses dressed with tall plumes, go along the streets of the village promenade, where, at dawn, a brightly lit tuna-fishing boat takes the statue of San Giuseppe on board before sailing out to sea.
As the boats sail along the coast, the village lights are switched off, only coming back on when the procession moves off, heading towards the neighbouring village of Sant’Alessio. The whole festival is crowned by an aquatic firework show featuring the so-called "Paperelle", which dive into the sea and then explode, with sparks, stars and spectacular colours.
Don’t miss the sandy beaches of Sant’Alessio, where the clear, transparent water of the sea offers you delightful relaxing days.