The ancient Taormina rose when the nearby Naxos, founded in the VIII century a.C. and corresponding to the small promontory of Schisò to the east, it disappeared from public life due to the destruction of Dionysius of Syracuse.
The cult of Dionysius, god of wine and intoxication, was widespread in north-eastern Sicily, as shown by the findings in Naxos and the Aeolian Islands of coins of the fourth century. B.C. bearing the image of a vine shoot or a bunch of grapes, just to confirm the importance of this nectar since the dawn of civilization.
To better understand the development of the Siceliote colonies, the main source is Tucidide.
An ancient settlement, it was chosen by the inhabitants of the first millennium, where the archaeologist Paolo Orsi identified a rocky necropolis, attributed to the III Sicilian period. Tauromenion was felt from the early heir of the nearby Naxos; this is evidenced by the coins that narrate the legend Archegetes ("he who guides the foundation", Doric expression, referring to Apollo as the patron of many Greek colonies overseas).
The happy natural position was, for Taormina, a reason of considerable economic prosperity; one of the sources of this wealth was that of wine and therefore the cultivation of the vine.
Already Nasso, in his coins in which the bunch of grapes appears, had revealed the importance of cultivation and the fame of the product.
It is interesting to know that in Pompeii numerous wine amphorae were found with the engraving tauromenitanum (vinum) with the names of both producers and owners. The vines of the area were used for the vineyards of the Albani hills according to an interesting news of Pliny. The amphoras in which this wine was transported were pointed and wore the inscriptions with the initials taur and initials painted in black.
Inside the Greek culture in Sicily, it is usual to associate the wine to Apollo rather than to Dionysus, when in fact several Hellenistic myths about the origin of the wine see this last figure involved. However, there were many celebrations in honor of Apollo, these took place every four years, precisely the third year after each Olympiad.
A cult spread throughout the island. In Naxos, where the first Ionian Calcidesi landed, the cult of Apollo assumed a political significance and the god was seen as protector of settlers and new settlements. The oysterist Tucle (Teocle), Athenian, probably also the founder of Catania, under the cliff of Tauromenio, raised on the beach an altar of Apollo, the first raised by the Hellenes in Sicily, for many centuries very honored.
Being in Taormina, you can not avoid visiting Castelmola.
There, located behind Monte Venere, in a splendid basin, here is Luppineria, which is perhaps one of the most famous districts. It rises 680 meters above sea level and was the seat of a handful of Ugonotti who settled there between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries AD. It derives its name mainly from the lupins (seeds of the Lupinus albus, a plant up to a meter and a half tall and with palmate leaves).
Only a few remains of bricks and bricks remain of the village. The name "Ulotti" given to a location in the district of Luppineria, seems to derive precisely from Ugonotti. On the remains of what was once the ancient Luppineria degli Ugonotti, lush vineyards and fruit trees have grown.
The modern myth of Taormina is the son of legends that speak of an ancient Sicily populated by giants, men-fish and monstrous animals against the backdrop of the "tremendous volcano" Etna. In the eighteenth-century literary exaltations, Taormina is described as a kind of open window in front of all the "wonders" of the Island, some mysterious and other horrors, handed down in popular tales.
Among these, in fact, we must remember the legend of the lupinaries, or the terrible sorcerers who lived right in the district Luppineria, near the ancient village of Castelmola. From this, the most hidden meaning of the name given to the district of Luppineria. It is said that, on full moon nights, these sorcerers poured into the streets of Castelmola, sowing terror and fright. The peculiarity of these lupins was that they were transformed from human persons into pigs and that, in order to make them become men or women, they had to be pricked with a blessed nail of the "ugghiata" (chestnut shoot of about two meters), used by the bifolks .
It is said that on a night of full summer, two Castelmolesi farmers met the sorcerers in "Pietra Iudio" and it was such a fright that they died a few days later, narrating the disconcerting meeting with the family.
Of this legend remains the memory in the stories of the elderly, even if gradually it is erasing from popular memory.
For a thousand years and more, between prickly pears and caper plants, there was an important pedestrian path, traced with excellent workmanship so as to be run by pack animals led by skilled bordonari, who climbed up from the ancient Borgo di Giardini Noxos to reach the overlying hills of Taormina and Castelmola. It was a historical journey that from the Mount Veneretta, in the heart of the Hills of Taormina and Castelmola, crossed the ancient Regia Tract that from the Alcantara Valley reached the hills of San Rizzo di Messina in the height the ancient Zancle, queen of the strait.
The route allowed evading the crossing of the Jonic fortified cities, including Taormina, thus avoiding the toll then constituted by barter and then replaced with the bestowal of various coins, (petioles, onze, tarì and grains) forms ante litteram del subsequent tax charge.
Regarding the "Trazzere" born in the medieval period, some of which are referred to as "Regie", which represented the viability of the time, their origin can be traced back to the Greco-Roman era, since there is a coincidence between the Roman viability before and then Norman, up to the eighteenth century, Over the centuries has represented the best could be used to travel and travel by peasants, travelers, shepherds, pilgrims, merchants, kings and princes on foot or horseback.
In reality the "Regie trazzere", intended as regulated routes in the uses, were born in the XIII century with the advent of power in the kingdom of Sicily of Frederick II of Swabia. However, the rules imposed are often disregarded by sovereigns and landowners who continue to demand transit rights and only in the Bourbon period they try to restore order, establishing, inter alia, free transit and free grazing.
For this territory, the most important route was that which connected Western Sicily to Messina, the so-called "Via Regia", mentioned in the Norman diplomas.
The stretch of road that continues to Taormina and Castelmola is none other than the "Regia Trazzera dell'Alcantara".
Today the historical road network has lost its old function of relationship and communication with the territory, but it still maintains a reason for being: the recovery of memory and of the memory of the time that was, in which others were the means of locomotion, the times of movement and therefore the rhythms of life, has already, in itself, great value. Walking these streets you can still capture all their functionality of the past.