Church of St. Joseph at Piazza IX Aprile on Corso Umberto, the main street in Taormina, Sicily, Italy, Europe

Getty Images/Robert Harding World Imagery

Corso Umberto I


Taormina's chief delight is wandering this pedestrian-friendly, boutique-lined thoroughfare. Start at the tourist office in Palazzo Corvaja, which dates back to the 10th century, before heading southwest for spectacular panoramic views from Piazza IX Aprile. Facing the square is the early-18th-century Chiesa di San Giuseppe. Continue west through the Torre dell'Orologio, the 12th-century clock tower, into Piazza del Duomo, home to an ornate baroque fountain (1635) that sports Taormina's symbol, a two-legged centaur with the bust of an angel.

You're now in the Borgo Medievale, the oldest quarter of town. On the eastern side of Piazza del Duomo is the 13th-century cathedral. It survived much of the Renaissance-style remodelling undertaken throughout the town by the Spanish aristocracy in the 15th century. Just north of the Corso is the 14th-century Palazzo Ciampoli, adjacent to the Hotel El Jebel. Just to the south (and near Porta Catania) stands the Palazzo Duca di Santo Stefano, a 13th-century palace once home to the De Spuches, a noble family of Spanish origin. It's now used as a functions space, but its Norman Gothic windows and Arab accents make it one of Taormina's architectural pin-ups.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Taormina attractions

1. Chiesa di San Giuseppe

0.06 MILES

Overlooking Piazza IX Aprile, this jewel-box church was completed in the early 18th century. The central portal is made of local marble while the portals…

2. Torre dell’Orologio

0.08 MILES

Located just west of the main square, Piazza IX Aprile, this 12th-century clock tower marks the entrance to Borgo Medievale, Taormina's oldest quarter.

3. Palazzo Corvaja

0.16 MILES

Dating back to the 10th century, the crenellated, Arab-influenced Palazzo Corvaja houses the tourist office and occasional exhibitions.

4. Villa Comunale

0.17 MILES

Created by Englishwoman Florence Trevelyan in the late 19th century, these stunningly sited public gardens offer breathtaking views of the coast and Mt…

5. Palazzo Ciampoli

0.18 MILES

The 14th-century Palazzo Ciampoli stands adjacent to the Hotel El Jebel.

6. Santuario Madonna della Rocca

0.19 MILES

Built inside a grotto on Monte Tauro, this small church was founded by the abbot Francesco Raineri in around 1640. According to legend, the Virgin Mary…

7. Saracen Castle


Perched atop Monte Tauro are the (inaccessible) ruins of this castle, built between the 11th and 12th centuries. The castle sits on the former site of…

8. Porta Messina

0.21 MILES

Porta Messina was originally named Porta Ferdinanda when opened by Ferdinand IV of Bourbon in 1808. The occasion is commemorated in the plaque above the…