Giardini Naxos, Sicily

Photo of Giardini Naxos

Visit Giardini Naxos

Giardini Naxos is a popular town and resort situated just south of Taormina on the north-eastern coast of Sicily. It is a popular area for tourists seeking both culture and beaches..

History of Giardini Naxos

Naxos was the first colony founded in Sicily by the Chalcidians from the island of Euboea in the second half of the eighth century B.C. (734-735 B.C.) and they were joined by people from the island of Naxos in the Aegean Sea. Soon Naxos became a thriving centre, expansing to form Lentini and Catania.

Naxos was destroyed in 403 BC by Dionysius I - the tyrant of Syracuse -and its citizens were sold as slaves. The remaining population withdrew to a hill called 'Taurus' where the town of Tauromenium (today Taormina) was founded. A few ruins remain of original Naxos including antique basalt walls along the Santa Venera river, and some tombs dating from the fourth century BC.

For 2000 years Naxos remained quiet, with occasional use as a station for changing horses or for growing citrus fruits and sugar cane. In the 15th century the bay was reinforced with towers added to the ancient medieval castle. Naxos slowly increased in importance and in the mid 19th century it became independent from Taormina under the name of Giardini Naxos. (The word Giardini is from 'gardens' after the citrus groves in the region).

Visit Giardini Naxos

The popular attractions of Giardini Naxos are varied and relate to: (1) the museum and excavations of ancient Naxos ; (2) the beach and summer tourism; (3) the possibility of interesting excursions in an area rich in environmental and cultural attractions.

Giardini Naxos Museum

The tour begins in Naxos Museum, which includes an area of excavations of the ancient site of the city (also accessed by Via Stracina). The museum has a vast collection of material from the excavations and it is divided into several sections. The first section contains prehistoric remains, notable among them a bowl with decorations of the middle of the fifth millennium B.C. and a cup to draw water from the second millennium B.C. and numerous finds made since the nineteenth century in the port area of the town: amphorae of wine, produced in Naxos until Byzantine age; some bowls painted with red-figure scenes; black-painted lamps and many examples of painted pottery (always in black paint). The museum also has a section devoted to coins from the region - many feature the emblem of the city: on the obverse is the head of the god Dionysus, on the reverse a bunch of grapes, or a Silenus drinking wine, a mythological figure strongly linked to the god Dionysus-Bacchus. The city of Naxos was particularly linked to the cult of Silenoi, as shown in the “antifixes” (decorations on the roofs of temples) present at the Museum and in the museum you can see the collection of Silenoi. On the first floor you can also see the so-called 'protomes', or votive objects that usually hung on the walls of houses.

Excavations

In the area of the excavations at Giardini Naxos the ruins of the ancient walls of the city are still visible, facing the sea, and with a thickness of over 4 meters. This thickness was not only for defensive purposes, but the walls were also a flood embankment of the Santa Venera river. The walls were built in the late fourth century B.C. , with three city gates to the west and to in the east. The city is not huge (10 acres) and was crossed by three east-west highways connecting the town with the port. Of some importance is the sacred architecture; the rectangular altars and temples were generally not very large but were decorated with figures of sphinxes and Gorgons.

Seaside and beaches

For lovers of the sea and beach, the Bay of Naxos is among the best available in Italy, both for the climate and in the range of equipment and services offered to tourists. We are very close to Taormina and the beach of Naxos is the longest coastline, where you can also find long stretches of free beach.

Places to see and visit near Giardini Naxos

For lovers of excursions to natural highlights there are some interesting routes, such as a visit to the so-called Gole of Alcantara (13 kilometers from Giardini Naxos), famous for its extraordinaries basaltic rocks; while for the more active there is the possibility of an excursion to Mount Etna (and winter skiing).

For the gourmets, the local cuisine offers dishes based on fish: the seafood salad (octopus and shrimp), tuna and smoked salmon, the 'bruschetta', oysters and fried mixture of squid, mullets and stuffed sardines, sea-food risotto, the swordfish rolls, perhaps accompanied by the famous Sicilian wines, including the so-called 'wine of Etna' (red, white and rosé). For those who like fish, between the second week of June and early July, in Giardini Naxos, there is the traditional Seafood Festival, where you can taste sardines and crawfishes, swordfishes and prawns.

See also:

Map of Giardini Naxos & places nearby

Selected places to visit in or near Giardini Naxos, Sardinia