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Taormina, Sicily

With 620 miles of coastline – 930 miles if its outlying islands are included – Sicily has no shortage of stunning resorts. Arguably the most attractive of them all, however, is Taormina on Sicily’s eastern coast.

The town, perched 660ft above sea level on the cliffs of Mt Tauro, boasts a superb view overlooking the Ionian Sea to one side and Mt Etna on the other.

Anyone thinking of buying a property in Taormina will find thousands of visitors flock here for its shopping, restaurants and bars, but above all its superb beaches – among the best in Italy – and those stupendous views. Its best beaches include Giardini-Naxos and Lido Mazzaro, which used to draw legions of Hollywood stars and is reached via a spectacular cable-car ride down Mt Tauro.

Lido Mazzaro is also one of Sicily’s best equipped beaches, with a wide choice of restaurants, bars and hotels. A couple of hundred metres from Mazzaro lies Isola Bella, Taormina’s most scenic cove and home to a number of grottoes with spectacular light effects.

Taormina’s charm stretches back centuries. Founded by the Greeks in 395BC, it rose to prominence between the 17th and 19th centuries, when it was part of the Grand Tour and Sicily’s foremost resort. Since then its famous devotees have included everyone from the writers Goethe, Truman Capote and D H Lawrence to screen legends Marlene Dietrich, Cary Grant and Sophia Loren.

However, property for sale in Taormina remains highly affordable, with one-bedroom sea-view apartments starting at just €90,000. Expect to pay from around €120,000 for a two-bedroom property.

Today, thousands of visitors as well as investors who come here to look for a property in Italy also use the town as a ideally located base from which to make excursions to nearby beauty spots, such as the Alcantara Gorges or the village of Castelmola, higher up Mt Tauro than Taormina and offering even more dizzying views of the bay. But the most popular trip is to climb the slopes of Mt Etna, Europe’s highest volcano and just a 45-minute drive away.

Taormina’s rich history means it also features several ancient attractions, in particular its medieval quarter and its Greek theatre, the town’s most visited monument. The theatre, hewn from the rock by the Greeks, was later significantly modified by the Romans. There is also a nearby Roman theatre dating from the first century AD.

For more modern attractions, visitors head to Taormina’s main street, Corso Umberto I, home to its best boutiques as well as shops selling local handicraft. Heading along Corso Umberto I also leads you to the town’s cathedral, dating from around 1400. Find time to pop into Parco Duca di Cesaro on Via Bagnoli Croce, just off the main drag. The gardens, created by exiled 19th century Scottish noblewoman Lady Florence Trevelyan, boast a beauty unmatched anywhere else in Sicily.

How to get here:
The nearest international airport is Catania, an hour’s drive along the coast to the south. There is also a rail station, Taormina-Giardini, which is on the main line linking Messina and Catania.