Up to three kilometres the northeast point Sicily's approaches to the boot point of the Italian mainland. The first holiday-makers came through the strait, the Stretto di Messina, 150 years ago, looking for recovery on Sicily island. Toarminabecame a secret tip in the social circles of the European upper middle class, whose attendants were also artists coming for a proper clarifying of the again discovered dream country.
Thus the basis was created for a tourist centre, which in the process of the decades got ever more tightened by Italian travellers. But it should last over 100 years, until that small town with the fantastic prospect, lain 200 meters above the steep coast of the ionic sea and the Etna with over 3000 meters height fell into the hands of mass tourism. It is much more amazing, that Taormina also retained itself until today, earned by the reputation of a few outstanding hotels as well as a certain exclusivity - and an irresistible charm, which should better not be proven in summer, during the main season, if you prefer silence. Goethe had praised the antique Greek-Roman theatre plant, including its background with the snow-covered crest of the largest active volcano in Europe as „the most beautiful theatre mall in the world ". In the meantime the whole medieval centre of the once contemplative's mountain town became a public show- and promenade-stage, at whose flanks neither the fashion shops of Armani, Gucci or Prada may be missing nor the Cafés, Piano bars and delicate high-class gourmet-stores.
Not in any case a visitor Taormina's should miss to stroll over the Corso Umberto, from there the Piazza IX Aprile, the fantastic panorama terrace, opens a view over the sea on the wooded Calabria. And at night further south, it looks as if the villages, are close for seizing, like sparkling nests at the slopes of the volcano.
Rather busy and completely unpretentiously Messina hardly appears as an antique or the medieval related city; there is no trace in the townscape. The modern buildings are quite impressive; however the word history seemed to be forgotten by the city-planners, which was created more than 2500 years ago by ancient Greeks. No miracle, because Messina, is today with 240.000 inhabitants the third biggest city Sicily's, as completely destroyed before scarcely 100 years by a devastating earthquake. With the largest European natural catastrophe 20. Century died 1908 into Messina about 80,000 humans. They died under the rubble of the collapsed houses, whereby many enclosed victims drowned in the slamming shut flood wave after the quake.
The small Norman church SS is worth seeing in Messina. Annunziata dei Catalani from the 12. Century, which defied the earthquake of 1908, furthermore the Museo regional, which offers among other works of Caravaggio and Antonello di Messina.
Although Catania was afflicted in the past centuries by several earthquakes, it offers relatively a lot of historical architecture. 729 before Christ the city was founded by the "Chalkydians", Greek settlers, and it is today with nearly 400,000 inhabitants the second largest municipality of the island.
Most impressive building is the dark, constructed in strict geometry Castello Ursino, established by "Stauferkaiser Friedrich II" at the port, which got over also the heavy earthquake of 1693 almost without loss, while the remaining city was devastated, after it had been already damaged by lava stream with the large volcanic eruption of 1669 substantially.
The result of the reconstruction after 1963 is the more remarkable. It made Catania an extensive, cheerfully working baroque city, where antique elements are not missing. A unique masterpiece of splendour is the Teatro Bellini built in the style of the Neo-renaissance at the Piazza of the same name - dedication to Catania's most famous son, the composer Vincenzo Bellini, who presented his first opera with 24 years and left 12 opera works, when he deceased to Paris 1835 at the nearly still juvenile age of 35 years. For opera friends and fans of the composer might have to be ranked the Museo Belliano to the Piazza Francesca among the obligation program of an attendance in Catania.