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Giardini Naxos, between sea and land

The bay of Giardini Naxos seen from Taormina

Why a post about Giardini Naxos

Hi reader! That is my first post, and I decided to dedicate it to Giardini Naxos, a town in the province of Messina, because this is where I lived the first six years of my life, and it is here that I left my happy memories. And it is always from here that it seems to me that I can touch Mount Etna!

Until the Seventies, it was a quiet fishing village. Today it is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Italy, thanks to its beaches, crystal clear sea, monuments, and clubs.

How to reach Giardini Naxos

You can reach Giardini Naxos by train, for example, and this would allow you to stop and contemplate the beauty of the Taormina-Giardini railway station. In the neo-Gothic style, we have seen it in the cinema several times. It was filmed, in fact, in films such as The Little Devil and The Godfather.

A detail of the interior of the Taormina-Giardini railway station
A detail of the interior of the Taormina-Giardini railway station

If you arrive with your vehicle, it could be a little complicated for you to find free parking on spring weekends and throughout the summer. But don’t despair! There are lots of paid parking spaces. Now you are ready to start your tour with a nice walk through the street of Giardini.

It is by walking along the promenade that you can lose your breath while admiring the beautiful Taormina on one side and the mighty Etna on the other. The contrast between sea and land will thus be visible to your eyes. And if you stop to eat an ice cream, a granita or a cannolo, it is even better. After all, everybody knows that the whole world envies us these desserts!

The most important monuments of Giardini Naxos

The Nike of Kalkis

After this pleasant break, you can keep on walking to get to the symbol of Giardini Naxos, that is Nike of Kalkis, which is sited at the end of Capo Schisò (believe me, watching a sunset from here is priceless!). They say that the Greeks who founded the city (which is also the first Greek colony in Sicily) led by Theocles went ashore at this spot.

The Nike of Kalkis
The Nike of Kalkis

It is a bronze statue of 1965 by the sculptor Carmelo Mendola, who wanted to be inspired by the Nike of Samothrace of the Louvre Museum to remember the twinning between Giardini and Chalcis Euboea (Kalkis). The inhabitants of Chalcis Euboea and the Greek island of Naxos participated in the foundation of the city.
In 1980 they placed an identical copy of the statue by the same sculptor in the city of Chalcis Euboea.

The Schisò Castle

Another monument that you must visit and can see from the seafront is the Schisò Castle, a military construction that controlled access to the bay of Giardini Naxos. Built between the XIII and XIV centuries, it became the wonderful house of a nobleman from Catania. It was 1582. Since 1900 the owner is the Paladino family.

The parish of San Giovanni

Among the parishes, I want to mention that of Santa Maria Immacolata, known as the parish of San Giovanni, because my childhood memories are related to it. Between 1991 and 1992, when I was about six years old, they restored the facade; at the same time, a new statue of the Virgin was commissioned to replace the blue ceramic one that had worn away by time. They exposed it for a couple of days in the churchyard, and it was thus possible to see some details. The most important is the snake at the feet of the Madonna to represent the triumph of good over evil. After being blessed by the Bishop, they positioned it on the spire, where it is still today.

Since 2009, you can see the certified copy of the Holy Shroud inside the Church.

Let’s eat!

After all the walking, you will surely be hungry..! The typical dishes are fish ones, so I recommend you to try the stocco a’ ghiotta. But if you prefer something faster and fried (by the way, Francesca’s grandfather always said that fried shoes would be good too! :D What do you think?), there is no doubt: you have to eat an arancino!!! The classic ones are stuffed with ragout or with mozzarella and diced ham. A delight for the palate!

Festivals and events in Giardini Naxos

Remember, however, that if you are in Giardini between July and August, you cannot miss the Fish Festival, which is held every weekend at the Saja.

Plate of fried fish
Variety of fried fish

There are other events during the year. Some of them are the April 1st Fair, the feast of San Pancrazio d’Antiochia, and that of the patron saint, or Santa Maria Raccomandata.

Between sea and land, past and present

In short, if you go to Giardini Naxos you can enjoy a breathtaking view, which arises from the union between the sea and the mountain (Etna). But you will also have the privilege of being able to take a dip in the past by visiting the archeological park, where you can walk among the remains of the first Sicilian Greek colony, away from the view and noise of the town. The park (and the museum inside) is deep in a magnificent Mediterranean scrub.

And if you are a sports fan, you probably know that the Olympic Temple on via Calcide Eubea recalls the passage of the Olympic torch from Giardini Naxos in 1960. But perhaps you do not know that the boxer who won four editions of the Olympic Games was born in Giardini. His name was Tysandros, and one of the main streets of the city was dedicated to him, namely the Tysandros promenade.

The Olympic Temple
The Olympic Temple

So what are you waiting for?

Well, our journey together to discover Giardini Naxos has come to an end.

I hope to see you soon!

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