Visiting the Ancient Greek Theatre of Taormina, Sicily
Perched on a hilltop in one of the most beautiful settings imaginable is the Ancient Teatro Greco of Taormina. Located on the eastern shores of Sicily, Taormina is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in all of Italy. Sitting some 250 meters above the Ionian Sea, Taormina is a popular destination with tourists due to its trendy beaches and beautiful setting.
The Greek Theatre here is the second largest of its kind in all of Sicily behind only the Greek Theatre of Siracusa. Built in the third century BC, the theatre is remarkably well preserved and is still used today for opera and musical performances.
Constructed during the Greek Hellenistic period, the theatre's design and horseshoe layout are typical of Greek construction. The theatre was literally carved out of the rock on Mount Tauro and had a capacity of 5,000 spectators. However, the extensive use of brick in the theatre suggests a Roman influence and researchers feel that the Romans most likely rebuilt the theatre over the original Greek foundation. This transformation took place during the 2nd century AD and the Romans used the theater for gladiator contests as opposed to plays and gatherings during the Greek period. While the theatre is most often referred to as the Teatro Greco because of its Greek origins, it is also referred to as the Greco-Roman Theatre because of its Roman renovation.
The selection of this location for the theatre has certainly brought a smile to the face of every photo enthusiast who has walked this ancient ground. The views from the theatre out over the blue Ionian Sea and of Mount Etna, especially on a clear day, are simply spectacular. A very long time ago someone knew exactly what they were doing when they planned to locate this theatre here.
For those of you planning a visit to the Ancient Teatro Greco in Taormina, it is very easy to get to. Simply follow the Corso Umberto, the main pedestrian road through Taormina until you come to Via Teatro Greco. Turn right and head up the hill until you come to the end of the road and you have arrived. It’s a short walk from almost anywhere in Taormina and there are signs to point you in the right direction. If you have trouble, simply ask any of the vendors or shop owners in the area and they will be sure to point you in the right direction.
The ticket office is located behind the stage area and the seating of the theatre rises up the hill from here. For the best views you will have to climb so take this into account before planning a visit. There are no elevators and the rocky steps and gravel walkways are not designed for those with mobility issues. Once at the top of the theatre, however, the views will be your reward.
The theatre is open daily from 9am until 7pm with shorter off-season hours until 4pm. The price of admission is reasonable and will cost you eight euro for adults. Admission is free for those 65 and older and under the age of 18. For those aged 18 to 25 the price is just four euro.
If you can, try to plan your visit for a clear day as the view is definitely part of the attraction here. If Mount Etna happens to be visible you are in for a treat as a photo of the theatre with Mount Etna in the background makes for one of the most picture perfect images imaginable.
If you happen to get lucky and are visiting Taormina during a scheduled opera or musical performance this is certainly a once in a lifetime opportunity. Elton John, Bob Dylan, Sting, Santana, Paul Simon and Tony Bennett have all graced this theatre with performances, and the acoustical properties of the theatre are among the best for an open air outdoor venue. The annual Taormina film festival also takes place here each June should you find yourself visiting then.
Sting at the Teatro Greco, Taormina
While there is much to do across Italy from top to bottom don’t forget about a visit to Sicily, which is often overlooked. Taormina is one of the most beautiful cities in the Mediterranean and the setting for the Teatro Greco is simply spectacular. Imagine yourself sitting there looking out over the sea and Mount Etna just as they did 2,300 years ago. Enjoy your visit.
Ciao for now.
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Questions & Answers
Is the ancient Greek Theatre of Taormina, Sicily open at night?
They have recently added lighting to the theater in an effort to stay open later so that visitors can enjoy the historic theater after the sun has set. There are also night time walking tours of Taormina that include a visit to the theater. I’m sure it’s a beautiful sight at night with the new lights.
© 2013 Bill De Giulio