Taormina, Sicily is a beautiful gem in this world! I visited for the first time back in 2017 when I was studying abroad in Italy. At that time I actually had no idea where or what Taormina was, but we went for a week with my school. The minute we got on our bus and started driving up the coast to the beautiful historic city, I was obsessed.
Four years later and I finally got to go back! The main purpose of this past trip was to explore the Etna Wine Region now that I actually understand and appreciate wine (much more than I did back then). This guide has some fantastic wineries you can visit, but it also mainly explores the town of Taormina, Sicily and fun excursions to do if you want to venture out.
We stayed here on our last trip and loved it! It’s a great location, right next to the Public Gardens, close to downtown and has a beautiful view of the ocean and Mt. Etna. They also have a nice pool and a beautiful area for breakfast in the mornings.
This hotel is GORGEOUS. We did not stay here because it is definitely on the pricey end, however we did grab drinks and dinner one night and walked around the property. It has a beautiful view of Mt. Etna and the coastline. It’s also very centrally located and right next to the ancient greek theater!
I am not joking when I say we had some of the best food of our lives in Taormina! If you are in Sicily be sure to try traditional Sicilian foods such as Pasta alla Norma, Connoli, Arancini, Granite, pistachio everything, and the fresh local seafood.
Mamma Rosa Pizzeria was a great restaurant we stopped at when we first arrived. It’s right in the heart of Taormina and the service was fantastic in addition to the pizza and burrata we got. The owner even sent us over limoncello. I would go back in a heartbeat! Da Christina is a small shop that has the best arancini in Taormina. This is a perfect stop for a snack or grab and go lunch.
The St. George restaurant at the Ashbee Hotel was the most incredible dinner experience. We went early to enjoy the gorgeous views of the coast line while enjoying some drinks. For dinner we did the 5 course pairing menu, and with each course we were blown away by the presentation, flavor and wine selections to match. The chef, Heinz Beck, even came out at the end of our dinner and thanked us for coming!This was our priciest dinner, but so worth it! Kiste was also a great dinner, and a little more on the upscale side. It’s tucked away down a quiet street in the heart of Taormina. The service was excellent and we also went with the local wine pairings to go with the dinner.
There are sooo many wineries to visit in the Etna region, and all within an hour from Taormina, Sicily. I only had time to visit three, but they were incredible places I would highly recommend! Dario from Winery Tasting Sicily was an incredible host to us and showed us some of the very best spots. For the inside scoop on wineries in Sicily, check out Winery Tasting Sicily.
Firriato was our very first winery we visited on this trip. It’s located on the North side of Mt. Etna in Sicily, so their terroir is very unique with volcanic soil and influences from the surrounding mountain regions. From Taormina it is about a 45 minute drive. Plus all of their farming is organic! Their winery is also a resort, with a modern structure and historical aspects like their old Palmetto and pre-phyloxera vines. We had the BEST tasting where we tried their Blanc de Noir, Etna Bianco, Etna Rosso, and a special Vinsanto, all accompanied with a lunch prepared by a Michelin Star chef.
Nicosia was an incredible experience as we tasted wine in their Monte Gorna vineyard. That vineyard in particular is special, as it overlooks the Ionian sea and is surrounded by craters of Mount Etna. If you visit, you are also able to have lunch and their food is incredible! One of my favorites was the Pistachio Linguine paired with an Etna Bianco. Be sure to try their Sparkling Carricante made in the traditional method and well as their 2014 Old Vines Nerello Mascalese.
I Vigneri is an extraordinary winery up near the town of Milo, Sicily. Right when we arrived Mount Etna started erupting… yes it low key freaked us out but it was also super cool! I Vigneri is a special winery because it was created by Salvo Foti who is considered to be the “Godfather of Etna Wine”. Their vineyards are situated much closer to Etna, and we noticed a significant difference in the amount of volcanic ash surrounding the winery. We also really enjoyed seeing their ancient Palmento (which they still use) and their new caves for fermentation and wine maturation.
This is the perfect happy hour or dinner spot! We went early to catch some day light. I love this view because you can see the ocean, city, and Mount Etna. The drinks were sooo good but expensive.
The Metropole is a 5 star hotel right in the main square of Taormina. It’s super pricey for cocktails but honestly the vibe, service and view is worth it. We didn’t eat here, just drinks!
The Ashbee is another 5 star centrally located Hotel. If you don’t want to do the pricey dinner (mentioned above), just go for an Aperitvo! The wine list is fantastic and the view is spectacular.
We went to Morgana a few nights after dinner in Taormina. The vibe is super modern and tropical and they are really known for their cocktails. I would highly recommend going late night!
There are so many companies you can do this with! We booked ours through air bnb and only had two others join our group so it was really intimate and relaxing. We stopped to swim and the views were breathaking!
Since Sicily is known for so many unique things, I highly recommend doing some shopping. I left with salts, oils, some beautiful textiles and pottery.
The Teatro Antico di Taormina is fun to do on an afternoon! Since Taormina was originally a Greek settlement, you can learn about the history and see what’s remaining of the beautiful amphitheater.
Hiking Mount Etna is a MUST DO. How often do you get to say you hiked an active volcano? The hike isn’t always available, especially if Etna is erupting, lol. So play this by ear!
Pistachios are huge in Sicily. Visiting a pistachio farm is a fun way to see the production and learn all the different ways they are used. I mean seriously you’ll find pistachios in pasta, on pizza, connoli, gelato, and more!
If you have time, explore some of the larger cities on the East coast of Sicily. All of these cities are beautiful, with rich history.
Castillo de Castelmola is the city right above Taormina. You can walk (it would be quite a hike!) or you can take a taxi. Visit the Turrisi Bar, a lively place known for their Almond Wine.
Below are some of the outfits I wore in Sicily! Our trip was at the end of August and I was super comfortable the whole time. Be sure to always pack comfy shoes and layers!