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Archeologists affirm that people have lived in the area since the 8th century BC. The first settlers who established a town were Greeks who left Naxos after it was destroyed around 395.
The city got its name Tauromenion in 358 BC, and from that moment it earned a great importance in the geopolitics of the region.
But Taormina has also earned its fame as one of the most visited vacation resorts in Sicily. Travelers have arrived since the 18th century. It offered a refuge to those homeless affected by the suppression of the religious guilds in 1866.
Taormina became magnet for European aristocrats and artistic elite when in 1868 Goethe urged Prussian Baron Ottone Geleng to visit this Sicilian town. The Baron’s paintings, completed in Taormina, were exhibited in Paris. Soon the town was a haven for other artists. Wilhelm Von Gloeden lived in Taormina and completed of his photography work that consisted mainly of frontal photographs of male nudes. D.H. Lawrence, who wrote Lady Chatterley’s Lover, also lived here in the 1920‘s.
The palatial mansions date from the end of the 19th century when aristocrats ran away from Palermo because of an eruption of cholera in the city.
Twentieth-century modern developments, which include the Corso Umberto main shopping street, completed the tourist urban design initiated almost three centuries earlier.