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March 4, 2022

L’isola Bella

Sicily, both internally and in its immediate vicinity, can count on real pearls that the
make it an island of great charm. It can only be part of this Isola Bella collection, located in the Mar
Ionian and defined by the German baron Wilhelm von Gloeden the “pearl of the Mediterranean”. Despite his
name it is in fact a peninsula, given the small distance from the coast (it belongs to the municipality of
Taormina, in the province of Messina). A real pearl on a naturalistic level.

Origins of the town

L’isola venne donata nel 1806 da Ferdinando I di Borbone a Pancrazio Ciprioti, sindaco di Taormina. Venne poi acquistata nel 1890 da Florence Trevelyan, che la valorizzò costruendovi una piccola casa e piantando rare essenze pregiate. Nello specifico, mise sull’isola specie non autoctone e arbusti rari. L’isola andò in seguito in eredità all’avvocato Cesare Acrosso, nipote di Salvatore Cacciola e marito di Florence Trevelyan. Nel 1954 fu acquistata per 38.000 ₤ dai fratelli Leone ed Emilio Bosurgi, che qui realizzarono un villaggio con 12 residenze autonome ed una minuscola piscina camuffata fra rocce e piantagioni, al fine di allietare ed ospitare i loro amici imprenditori e banchieri. La famiglia Bosurgi era proprietaria della Sanderson, storica azienda messinese di trasformazione degli agrumi. A causa del fallimento della società nel 1982, venne aperta la vendita per asta giudiziaria dei beni di famiglia che garantivano i debiti della società con fideiussioni. Tra questi beni vi era anche l’Isola Bella, con la sua villa. Una prima asta fu dunque fissata per il 17 ottobre 1984, con una base di cinque miliardi e mezzo di Lire e rilancio minimo di cento milioni, ma andò deserta. Intanto le istituzioni si mossero per tutelare l’isolotto. L’8 ottobre 1984, su sollecitazione del Comune di Taormina, l’assessorato regionale dei beni culturali dichiarò l’ isola Bella un monumento d’ interesse storico artistico di particolare pregio in quanto “esempio isolato di unicum come valore naturalistico, storico e culturale”, sottoponendola a vincoli di tutela. Il decreto considerava l’isola come un “monumento naturale”. In seguito ci fu una nuova asta il 6 marzo 1985 e, nonostante la base fosse stata ribassata del 20%, non vide presentarsi nessun compratore.
In 1990 the island was finally purchased by the Department of Cultural Heritage of the Sicilian Region. In 1998 a nature reserve was established, managed by the WWF, then by the Province of Messina and recently passed under management to the CUTGANA (center of environmental protection of the University of Catania). In 2010, with the establishment of the Archaeological Parks, the management, use, protection and enhancement of Isolabella are currently the responsibility of the Archaeological Park of Naxos.

What to see

Taking a tour of Isola Bella means seeing a real naturalistic museum, where the coexistence between the Mediterranean scrub and a certain number of exotic plants creates a truly suggestive scenario.
There is also a rich fauna, such as the red-breasted lizard and many types of water birds. In addition, there is also Villa Caronia, with its botanical garden.

What to do

In the vicinity of the free beach, you can find several boats which, for a price of 10-15 euros, make trips around Isola Bella. During the boat excursions you can admire the surrounding caves, the Bay of Naxos, the Blue Grotto and the Grotta della Conchiglia.

What and where to eat

Isola Bella is affected by the culinary tradition of Sicily and in particular of Taormina. Among the recommended dishes are pasta alla norma and fish main courses of various kinds (sardines, anchovies, roasted swordfish or rolls). Then there are almond desserts, cannoli, ice creams and slushes and wines such as Marsala, Alcamo, Etna
red, Nero d’Avola, Corvo and Regale. Three excellent restaurants to enjoy these meals near Isola Bella are: Pizzichella, Il Gabbiano and Il Barcaiolo.

The beach

Among the beaches belonging to the municipality of Taormina, Isola Bella is certainly the most beautiful. It is a pebble beach, set at the foot of the city and which stretches out in front of the homonymous colorful island with rich vegetation. The island is connected to the mainland by a thin strip of beach, which disappears and reappears according to the rhythm of the tides. The seabed is rocky and, for those who are passionate about diving, it offers remarkable underwater beauties. There are also many free beaches or lidos equipped with bars and services.

How to come

The only way to reach Isola Bella in Taormina is on foot. The island is in fact connected to the mainland through a thin strip of sand which, even in times of high tide, can be easily explored on foot. The water level during the day can be very low, allowing you to walk on dry sand. Sometimes the water can reach up to the knees, making it more tiring
the arrival on the island. In any case, the route is short and suggestive and you will feel like you are walking on water in total freedom.

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