Explore the Greek-Roman Theatre of Taormina
Italy This Way review: the Ancient Theatre in Taormina is an extraordinary place to visit, even if you have already visited some of the other ancient theatres on Sicily. Not only is it well preserved and renovated, but the theatre is in a spectacular location with views across the town and the sea beyond as well as views to Mount Etna and a highlight of your visit.
The theatre has been built on the edge of a hill, and renovation in recent decades has brought life back to this long abandoned monument. The seating is in a semi-circle that is 109 metres across: apart from the theatre in Syracuse (which is in a much less impressive location) it is the largest ancient theatre in Italy.
There are two stages to the development of the theatre, one in the Greek period and one in the Roman period: although it is referred to as a Greek theatre, most of what we see today is actually of Roman origins.
During the Greek occupation of Sicily, around three centuries BC, the original theatre was built. Small parts of this still exist because the large stones from this period were used as part of the stage when the Romans rebuilt the theatre.
All the actual building that we see today is due to a reconstruction carried out in the first half of the second century, believed to be during the period under Emperor Trajan or Emperor Hadrian. The theatre was also used as an arena during the following 100 years. It fell into disrepair after the fall of the Roman empire, and was abandoned for many centuries.
The stage was rebuilt in the 19th century using the original materials. The wall behind the stage is missing a central section, but this does mean there are lovely views to the sea where a stage wall once stood!
From the town centre you can reach the theatre by following Via Teatro Greco from Piazza V. Emanuelle II, the square 100 metres south of the entrance to the old town through Porta Messina.
The first time we visited it was in May and Taormina theatre was already quite busy, and during during the summer it can get extremely busy. If at all possible visit quite early in the morning to avoid the crowds and to take better photographs.
We have been told several times that when a performance is planned in the theatre (typically most of the summer) there are quite a lot of plastic seats, boxes, lights and electrical fittings all around the stage that can spoil a visit. There is not a lot that can be done about this if it is when you are in Taormina, but it was not the case for us so I don’t know how much it spoils a visit.
If you are able to visit the Greek Theatre on the first Sunday of a month the admission is free (as are many monuments in Italy), otherwise about 10 euros.
The town of Taormina is one of our favourite towns in Sicily, with an extensive historic centre and some beautiful coastline to explore. See the Taormina guide for details.
Natural highlignts close by include Mount Etna and the lovely island of Isola Bella, and another popular excursion is to the beach resort at Giardini Naxos, a few kilometres south of Taormina.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Sicily guide.
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The beautiful setting, the ancient theatre and attractive town of Taormina makes this one of the most popular destinations in Sicily.
Isola Bella and Mazzaro
Close to Taormina, Isola Bella is a pretty island nature reserve and Mazzaro is a beach destination
Isola Bella and Mazzaro guide
Castelmola is a beautiful hilltop village above Taormina
Giardini Naxos is a beach resort a few kilometres south of Taormina
Giardini Naxos guide
Savoca is a beautiful hill town made famous as the location for some scenes of ‘The Godfather’.
Destroyed on several occasions by eruptions from Mount Etna, Mascali has largely been rebuilt after 1926.