Castello Sarazeno, Monte Tauro, Taormina, Sicily, Italy

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Monte Tauro


The short climb to the top of Monte Tauro (378m) is not exactly Himalayan, but it is steep and the final steps are quite hard work. Your reward is a breathtaking panoramic view over Taormina's rooftops, the Teatro Greco and, beyond, to the coast.

From Via Circonvallazione, a signposted path leads up past the tiny Santuario Madonna della Rocca. Founded by the abbot Francesco Raineri in around 1640, the church is built inside a grotto. According to legend, the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus appeared to a young shepherd who had taken refuge in the grotto during a sudden storm. The lofty panorama from the church's terrace is almost as heavenly, taking in Taormina and the deep-blue Ionian Sea beyond. Further up the mountain lie the windswept ruins of a Saracen castello (castle), once the site of Taormina's ancient Greek acropolis. You can't actually get to the castle – a locked gate blocks the path – but it's the views, rather than the sights, that are the real attraction.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Taormina attractions

1. Saracen Castle

0.04 MILES

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…

2. Santuario Madonna della Rocca

0.09 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…

3. Palazzo Corvaja

0.23 MILES

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

4. Corso Umberto I

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Taormina's chief delight is wandering this pedestrian-friendly, boutique-lined thoroughfare. Start at the tourist office in Palazzo Corvaja, which dates…

5. Porta Messina

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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…

6. Chiesa di San Giuseppe

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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…

7. Torre dell’Orologio

0.26 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.

8. Palazzo Ciampoli

0.26 MILES

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