Russott Hotel, Giardini Naxos ****
The Russott Hotel, Giardini Naxos. One of Sicily's top tourist spots, the historic and very lovely town of Giardini Naxos has an ancient history - in fact this was probably the first Greek settlement on this much invaded and colonised island. Lying close to the gorgeous little city of Taormina. View hotel
Double rooms from €84
Hotel Palladio, Giardini Naxos, Messina ***
The Hotel Palladio, Giardini Naxos. This lovely family run hotel lies on the eastern coastline of Sicily. Set along the seafront road, with the beach right out front and with spectacular views of the bay, this Giardini Naxos hotel makes for a terrific base in Sicily. View hotel
Double rooms from €36
Hotel Giardino dei Greci, near Messina ****
Lying just south of Taormina, and with superb views over the Bay of Taormina, the Hotel Giardino dei Greci has a terrific range of modern facilities, a very nice pool and the perfect environment whether visiting Sicily on business or vacation. View hotel
Double rooms from €109
These days, Giardini Naxos is primarily known as a beach resort for the eastern Sicilian coast city of Taormina. Very nice it is too, with extensive stretches of sand, and shallow and very warm waters (the Ionian Sea) sheltered by the long curve of the Bay of Taormina, which stretches some two kilometres from Taormina in the north to Giardini Naxos itself in the south.
There's some interesting history here too though, should you be able to tear yourself away from the beach. Naxos was founded by Thucles the Chalcidian in 734BC (the first Greek colony on Sicily) around the temple of Apollo Archegetes (the protecting god of the Greek colonies). The conquests of Leontini and Catania were launched from here. It was taken in 494BC by Hippocrates, the tyrant of Gela, and ultimately razed in 403BC by Dionysius (another tyrant) for siding with Athens' ill-fated attempt to re-invade Syracuse and thus take Sicily. This saw the founding of the neighbouring Tauromenium, today known as Taormina.
Fast forward a couple of millennia, and Naxos was the launching point for Garibaldi's assault on the Bourbon army in Calabria in 1860. You can explore the ancient history with a visit to the local archeological dig (very reasonably priced) and then head to the local Museo Archeologico to see what has been unearthed. There are good places to eat and stay in Giardini Naxos, and it's a lot cheaper than chic Taormina, just ten minutes away. A thriving fishing port, we'd recommend you try the town's many good, affordable urchins ... though you may have enough sea urchins before you're done.