Monte Tauro

Viewpoint in Taormina
Image by Ingolf Pompe / Getty Images

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.