The small seaside Sicilian town of Giardini-Naxos is not well-known but it is situated on the Ionian Sea, just below the very popular resort city of Taormina. It is a beautiful stretch of beach and has lots of great reasonably priced restaurants, so it is not surprising that this where the locals hang out.
Originally called Naxos, this village was discovered in the year 735 B.C. as a Greek colony by the Chalcidensians. Eventually it was destroyed and in the Middle Ages the name was changed to Al Kusus during the Arab invasion. Afterwards the Normans came and the name changed again, this time to Kisoi and then Schiso.
Due to the numerous citrus orchards surrounding this village, it finally became known as “Giardini” and was then actually a part of Taormina.
In 1846 King Ferdinand II was responsible for making it an independent commune with the name Giardini-Naxos. Almost 25 years later after the Messina-Catania Railway opened the economy of Giardini-Naxos began to develop more than simply a fishing port.
Today this once small maritime village has become one of the hotspots for tourism in Sicily.
Port and Cruises
Giardini-Naxos has a port where private boats as well as cruise ships depart. Since neighboring Taormina does not have its own port, the port at Giardini-Naxos is also considered to be the port of Taormina.
With 140 boat slips the port offers all nautical services including assistance at sea. Cruise lines anchor in the Bay of Giardini and tender in to the port here as well. Oceania Cruise Lines sails in the summertime to various ports in Italy and surrounding locations and can frequently be seen docked in the bay. From the beach and docking area, you can look up and to the north and see Taormina up on the hill.
I love the road along the seashore, appropriately called Lungomare which means along the sea, because on one side I can see the ocean, one of my favorite places, and on the other side are all the restaurants, shops and endless possibilities for nightlife and fun.
A few years ago my Sicilian friends Angela, Teresa and Angelica introduced me to a great friendly casual restaurant here called La Bussola.
October was a little cool for outdoors so we ate inside, but I have also been there in May and the outside patio was delightful. Not only were the prices very reasonable and so much less than what I had found in mainland Italy, but the food was fantastic, from pizza to pasta and anything in between. The best thing about La Bussola was the feeling of belonging thanks to the owners who were very friendly and made us feel at home. I liked this place so much that I have returned again and again whenever I have been to Sicily. It pays to know where the locals go for an experience so much better than the average tourist!
I’ll be headed back to Taormina this October on my Sicily road trip with my friend and fellow travel blogger, Victoria De Maio. Watch for our posts as #2SicilianGals as we tool around the roads of Sicily!
Ciao and Grazie
For more of my stories in Sicily you might enjoy reading My Love Affair with Sicily.
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