Naxos, is the first Greek colony founded in Sicily in 735 b.C. and has a wide archaeological area with annexed museum. Giardini Naxos, cradle of ancient Mediterranean civilizations and touristic avant guarde site in the South of Italy, offers a range of typical Sicilian beautiful landscapes.
Between Messina and Catania, Giardini Naxos can be reached in less than one hour from Fontanarossa airport. Excursions to Taormina (just 5 km far), Syracuse, Agrigento, Palermo, Aeolian Islands, Mount Etna, Linguaglossa pine grove (an enchanting and unique itinerary between sea and snow) and Alcantara valley with its suggestive gorges are available from Giardini.
Historical origins of Giardini Naxos go back to 735 b.c. when a group of colonists arrived to Capo Schisò and founded the first Greek colony in Sicily, named Naxos, like the homonimous island in the Aegean Sea. It was a small town, but at the same time had a great importance thanks to the altar of Apollo Archegetes from which Greek ambassadors of Sicilian cities left to the homeland.
Lined up with Athens during the Peloponnese war, after the defeat of the Athenian military mission, Naxos suffered Syracuse’s revenge that besieged and razed it to the ground in 403 b.C.. All citizens were sold as slaves and the area donated to Sicilians. In spite of the total devastation, the name of Naxos remained popular during the time. In the III Century a.C. the Itinerarium Antonini, the list of localities along the Roman Empire route, recommended Naxos as a place where change horses, located 35 miles far away from Messina, along the consular route to Syracuse.
In the Byzantine period the bay became a strategical docking for the near Taormina with settlements spread all around the coast. Arabs introduced the plantation of citrus trees and left traces of their presence in some toponyms such as Schisò, which derives from Al Qusûs (chest, bust) and Alcantara which takes its origin from Al Quantarah (the bridge); the old crossing of the Alcantara river had to be such a worthy work that its name was also given to the river.
In the middle of ‘400, in Schisò plain, sugar cane cultivation spread and the site was protected by military structures: the old Medieval castle was widened and a short and squat defensive quadrangular tower was built in the point of Schisò Cape and Vignazza Tower in Recanati.
In 1719 the high presence of inhabitants along the bay required the constitution of the first church entitled to Saint Mary of Raccomandata to satisfy their spiritual needs. Then a demographic growth followed and it caused the administrative autonomy of Giardini from Taormina on January the 1st 1847.
On August the 18th, after the end of the mission in Sicily, Garibaldi and his troops continued their expedition in Italy, boarding from Giardini to Calabria. In the 20th Century several economic enterprises linked to fishing, to wrought iron, vases and shingles production, farming and extraction of alcoholic essences from citruses developed in the territory.
Nowadays all these activities have been substituted by businesses linked to tourism: Giardini Naxos, in fact, for its beautiful geographical position, became one of the most beautiful, well known and popular touristic place in Sicily.