Isola Bella: the ‘Pearl of the Ionian Sea’ to discover in Sicily

Taormina is a city that belongs to Italy and is located towards the eastern coast of the island of Sicily, at the level of a hill, between Messina and Catania; being practically in front of the tip-shaped part of the Italian peninsula. It has a population of about 10,991 inhabitants. 

It is close to the famous Mount Etna, where the volcano is located, which can be reached in 1 hour by car and is still active; however, it has trails that allow you to reach the top. It is a city known for its ancient Greco-Roman theater, still in operation, and because it has cliffs that form coves and sandy beaches, very close to the theater; Taormina is also called “The Pearl of Sicily”.

In the lower part of Taormina, specifically in the area of the coast of Mazzarò, there is a bay in the shape of a half moon; and from that shore there is a strip or extension of sand towards the sea that becomes a very particular beach; especially when the tide is low. This in turn connects to a small islet called the island of Isola Bella, which also belongs to the nature reserve. 

This beach of Isola Bella is formed by coarse sand and pebbles, as well as the shore, which we already mentioned has a crescent shape and is very popular among tourists arriving in Sicily; being the left side of the bay more touristic than the right, although the latter offers more tranquility and less congestion. The waters are generally clean and shallow. 

How can we get to Isola Bella beach?

If you are in the city of Taormina you can reach the coast of Mazzaro by plane, train, car, ferry, funicular or bus, whose distance is 464 km. To descend to the beach of Isola Bella we have 2 options: on foot or by funicular. However, either of the 2 options starts at Luigi Pirandello.

If you decide to walk down the stairs it is important to bring comfortable shoes, water in case you get thirsty, and stop from time to time at the viewpoints to rest or perhaps take some pictures of the landscape. The trail has good directions, without complications to get there. 

However, the road can be a bit heavy at midday, when the sun’s rays are strong; but if it is earlier or the day is cloudy, the beach is easily reached in half an hour.

The other way is to descend by funicular, which takes only a few minutes, and the views are also spectacular. It is recommended, as long as the time and the desire of the person allows it, to descend on foot and return in the funicular; in this way you know both ways of transportation; in addition, the ascent on foot is stronger than the descent.

The island of Isola Bella, where the Florence Trevelyan House is located:

When the tide goes out, exactly at noon, the path of sand and pebbles is formed, joining the islet or island of Isola Bella with the coast of Mazzaró by means of an isthmus, which subtly separates the sea into two zones. The island can be reached on foot, swimming or also by boat, since it is a striking area for its peculiar vegetation and because it is possible to practice diving, with the appropriate equipment. 

In the highest part of this island there is a building, which also has its history of several owners who passed through here for some decades, because they were captivated by the interesting landscape and the area. It is said that it was the German Baron Wihelm Von Gloeden who gave it its name

Then in 1890 it was bought by Lady Florence Trevelyan, Queen Victoria’s niece and wife of the mayor of the time. It is from this time that a small house was built, and for almost 20 years Florence gave life to this area, creating a very particular garden, mixing Mediterranean plants with other exotic species and different shrubs. 

Florence died in 1907, but the following owners continued to protect the site, until in 1984 Isola Bella was declared a Monument of Historical and Artistic Interest by the regional Department of Cultural Heritage, that is, an enclave to be cared for and maintained in the area. 

It currently belongs to this Department and is managed by the World Wildlife Fund or WWF, which is a leading conservation organization in the world, well known for its panda logo and is present in many countries.

What else does the area around Isola Bella have to offer?

It is evident that it is an area to get a well-deserved vacation; however, we must take into account that the shore is covered not only with sand, but also with some stones mixed with pebbles, which implies getting some element where you can lie down more comfortably; or simply to protect yourself from the sun. 

There are hotel-owned lots equipped with umbrellas and lawn chairs, which also offer refreshments, showers, fresh water, toilets and spa services, but you must pay for this type of service. 

Also on the shore there is a rental service for different types of water transportation, such as boats, canoes, banana boats or inflatable boats, ideal for children, catamarans and, for the more daring, paragliding; there are also excursions to the Isla Bella reserve. 

In addition to these aquatic means of transportation, electric motorcycles or scooters are also available for rent, as well as bicycles and quads, also known as quad bikes. Another important fact is that at the entrance to the sea you can easily observe certain stones, some of them big and even sharp, so special shoes are necessary to avoid getting hurt. 

Although the beach is rocky, it is very popular with couples and young people. The water is very transparent, clean, shallow and without big waves, except for certain areas for diving. The best time to visit Sicily is between May and October. As for accommodation, there are 3 hotels that are considered the best in this beach: the Suite Adalgisa, the Mendolia Beach Hotel and the Isola Bella. 

To enjoy its gastronomy, not far from the beach you can find restaurants offering Sicilian, Italian or European food; there are also cafes, and if you have time or wish to continue exploring the surroundings, you will find stores with many souvenirs. 

Posted in Europe, Italy, Sicily.