Giardini Naxos - a place to hold the horses
As the name suggests (Naxos is an island in the Aegean sea), this multicultural and mostly tourist village was once a Greek settlement. In fact it is considered to be the first Greek colony in Sicily (at the time as far back as 735 BC), and thereafter the important departure point for ambassadors from the Greek cities in Sicily to the motherland Greece. This historic route from Greece to Italy was reproduced in 1960, when the Olympic torch travelled from Athens to Rome: the first stopping point for the Olympic fire on the Italian soil was Giardini Naxos, and the Roman Olympic Temple raised for this event still stands at the Naxos waterfront (see foto)
"Some more history ..."
In 403 BC, in the course of the Peloponneso War, the Greek city of Naxos was besieged and then razed to the ground, its citizens sold as slaves and the territory given to the Siculi tribe. Despite those devastating events, the name Naxos remained in time. In the 3rd century AD, the Itinerarium Antonini, a list of places along the roads of the Roman Empire, described Naxos as a place to change horses, located 35 miles from Messina on the consul road to Syracuse.
"Present day importance"
The above was to stess the historical importance of Naxos as a landing point for those wishing to reach Taormina or Syracuse. The same is arguably still relevant today: with regular bus service to the airport in Catania and most of the East coast attractions, and two nearby railway stations to link it to elsewhere in Italy, Giardini Naxos is as attractive to backpackers as it is to the package tour participants. And also don't forget the beautiful beaches offering views of Taormina, Castel Mola and Her Majesty Etna (my guidebook rates the beach infrastructure in Giardini Naxos as the best on whole Sicily)