When study abroad students are planning their spring breaks, they tend to look at the common beach cities such as Barcelona and Lisbon. After spending a week in Taormina, Sicily, though, I would encourage students to open up their minds to this quieter but beautiful beach city. Located on the east coast of Sicily, Taormina is a city on top of a hill overlooking the beautiful sea. The people of Taormina are excited to have students in town and a week there spent like a break from the real world. It was, in terms of food and views, paradise.
Sicily is general is known for its fresh, extremely local food options. Taormina takes these foods to a new level with its restaurants and cafes.
Step into any caffe in Taormina to try this delicious treat. Arancini is basically a fried ball of risotto wrapped around different insides such as eggplant (Norma) and ragu. Served warm, filling, and extremely cost effective, arancini are the perfect lunch option on a day of site seeing.
Pasta alla Norma
I was in Taormina for seven nights and ate pasta alla Norma three of those nights. This simple pasta dish features fresh pasta, eggplant, and the freshest ricotta cheese you can find in Italy. Most restaurants in Sicily serve it and it goes perfectly with a glass of red wine.
While Italy is known for its gelato, I would encourage you to take a break from this treat while in Sicily and swap it out for granita. This half slushie/half gelato iced drink is the perfect refreshment on a hot Taormina day and can be found in flavors such as raspberry, chocolate, and almond. Pro tip: order a brioche bun to get with your granite and pair the two together.
If you think you’ve had cannoli before, think again before trying Sicilian cannoli. Made with the freshest pistacchio, Taormina and Sicily are known for their cannoli. There is no shame in having one a day.
Taormina’s rich history has roots in Greek, Roman, Spanish and Norman culture. The city is a vibrant mix of its past conquerors.
In the heart of Taormina lies what used to be a Greek theater turned Roman amphitheater. This site used to host plays attended by the whole city as well as gladiator fights. The theater has a beautiful backdrop of the Naxos bay. It is a cheap ticket to see the astonishing site.
Giardini della Villa Comunale
After traveling around Europe for the semester, I have seen a lot of public gardens. None compare to the public gardens of Taormina. Scattered with bizarre, treehouse-looking structures, and intertwining paths, you could wander the gardens for hours. I encourage taking some time to sit and enjoy.
While not technically in Taormina, the hour-long drive to hike Mount Etna is definitely worth it. The volcano is technically active currently but there are many areas still open for hiking. The views are Mars-like and unlike anything I’ve ever seen. This is a can’t miss opportunity.
Article written by Grace Kramer – Minnesota University in Florence
I’m a student from the University of Minnesota studying in Florence for the semester. I’m a junior studying Strategic Communications and Cinema and Media Culture.