The Sicilian town of Taormina has long been a destination for the cognoscenti. It has been the Sicilian tourist destination of choice since the 19th century and was part of The Grand Tour. Visitors including Oscar Wilde, Richard Wagner, Evelyn Waugh, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Tennessee Williams were attracted by the town’s pretty streets, mild climate and Arab, Norman and Baroque buildings architecture, and spectacular views.
One of Taormina’s main attractions is the Teatro Antico; a remarkably well-preserved Greco-Roman amphitheatre that is still in use for performances of classical plays, opera, ballet and rock concerts. The theatre is also employed as a venue when Taormina hosts its annual film festival in June that attracts an international set. A red carpet night during the film festival is a real treat. Expect to see a well-heeled clientele mix with Hollywood stars, holidaymakers and humble film fans to climb the stone stairs of the theatre and watch a movie under a velvet blue starlit sky just like the ancients watched a premiere of a drama.
By day, the Teatro Antico is open to visitors. The panorama it affords across the Ionian Sea to the smoking Mount Etna in the distance is incomparable, and the volcano looks particularly attractive when capped by snow during the autumn to spring. Looking through the ancient stone columns as they frame Etna is a remarkable experience, and all the more so when you reflect that thousands of others have shared the same gaze across the centuries.
The Teatro Antico is open daily from 9am to 7pm. Admission costs €8.
Where: Teatro Antico, Via del Teatro Greco 1, 98039 Taormina, Messina, Sicily