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March 4, 2022

The ancient Greek colony I Giardini Naxos

If you want to fully breathe ancient history, then Giardini Naxos is the place for you. It is a municipality in the province of Messina, originally called Giardini only, to which the name of Naxos was then added in homage to the ancient Greek colony founded in the eighth century BC. right in that area.

Origins of the town

In 734 BC, settlers from Chalcis founded what was considered the first Greek settlement in Sicily on the territory of today’s Giardini Naxos. This colony was called Naxos, after the homonymous island in the Aegean Sea. During the Peloponnesian War Naxos sided with Athens, but when in 413 BC. the Athenian military expedition to Sicily failed, the Syracusan tyrant Dionysius the Elder had it razed to the ground and built on the hill above “Tauromenion” (Taormina). The territory was donated to the Sicilians and the inhabitants were sold as slaves. The name Naxos persisted over time even in Roman times and in the Antonine Itinerary of the third century AD. it is mentioned as a place for the exchange of horses along the consular road towards Syracuse.
In the Byzantine period a small inhabited center was formed on the remains of the Greek colony, this became the strategic landing place for nearby Taormina. The period of Arab domination has left numerous toponyms such as that of the nearby river Alcantara or of Capo Schisò itself. During the fifteenth century, the cultivation of sugar cane spread in the countryside adjacent to the inhabited center and the town began to be militarily protected thanks to the construction of a quadrangular tower at the end of Capo Schisò, of the Vignazza Tower and the expansion of a old medieval castle. In 1719, due to the growing number of inhabitants, the parish community dedicated to Maria Santissima della Recommended was formed. Giardini from 1 January 1847 obtained autonomy from Taormina and in August 1860 Garibaldi with his troops left from his bay to head to the Calabrian coasts. From 800 onwards, in addition to fishing, activities related to agriculture, especially citrus fruits, wrought iron and ceramic crafts developed in the area. In recent decades, these activities have almost completely disappeared and an attempt has been made to reconvert the country’s economy by looking towards tourism as the main source of livelihood, building accommodation facilities and exploiting the tourist vocation of the coast. Today Giardini-Naxos is, together with the contiguous Taormina and Letojanni, one of the most popular seaside resorts in eastern Sicily.

What to see

Arriving in Giardini Naxos, an obligatory stop is the statue of Nike. It is the symbol of this locality, created by Carmelo Mendola and built in 1965. Located in the Schisò district, it also symbolizes the twinning between Giardini Naxos and Calcide Eubea. To immerse yourself in the ancient history of the Messina municipality, it is necessary to visit the archaeological site of Giardini Naxos, which preserves the remains of civil and religious buildings dating back to the Roman and Greek periods. The Castle of Schisò is also part of this archaeological complex, inhabited in the Norman and Spanish periods. Initially consisting only of a watchtower, it was expanded in the following years.

What to do

During a stay in Giardini Naxos, a tour of the historic center is strongly recommended. Corso Umberto can be defined as the living room of the Messina municipality, since it crosses it from top to bottom and some of the most important buildings overlook it, such as the mother church of S. Maria Recommended. It is also interesting to take a nice walk along the seafront (dotted with restaurants and shops) and arrive at the small port of the city (with typical brightly colored wooden boats).

What and where to eat

In Giardini Naxos, granita is particularly popular, as well as fish-based dishes. To taste them, among the most recommended restaurants there are: La Cambusa, La Cucina del Palladio, La Vela and La Lampara.

The beach

Giardini Naxos boasts one of the most beautiful stretches of sand in the whole Ionian Sea, which are purely of two types: either with very fine sand or characterized by small pebbles, similar to gravel. Among the most beautiful coasts of the Messina municipality there is certainly the Recanati beach: very wide, where there are beaches and
free beach. Much loved by families for its slightly sloping seabed, the Recanati beach is also frequented by those looking for discos and clubs, numerous in this area.
Per chi è in cerca di sabbia fine e dorata e vegetazione rigogliosa la scelta perfetta è la Spiaggia di Schisò,
while the beach of Porticciolo Saia is characterized by small bays bordered by lava rocks:
an ideal place to spend entire afternoons in total relaxation and tranquility.

How to come

Giardini-Naxos is easily reachable via the A18 Catania – Messina motorway. The junction, called Giardini Naxos, is located between those of Taormina and Fiumefreddo. The Messina municipality also includes two railway stations: Taormina-Giardini and Alcantara (the latter in the hamlet of Chianchitta).

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