Aerial photo of Sister City, Taormina, Italy.

Reflections on our Sunny Isles Beach Sister City, Taormina, Italy

By George “Bud” Scholl, Mayor

(Friday, September 1, 2017) – Looking for inspiration to write something interestingly, I was sitting in a small cafe in Taormina, Sicily as the motorinos (scooters) engulfed the town square with their morning deliveries. Then I remembered I am vacationing in Taormina because it is a Sister City to Sunny Isles Beach. Given my affinity for Taormina and multiple trips over the years, it was easy to forget why I first came here.

A little over seven years ago, a delegation of Sicilians from Taormina came to visit South Florida to determine if Sunny Isles Beach would be a suitable Sister City. As fellow elected officials, we all immediately bonded over many issues of mutual interest as well as the similarities of our cities, even though the two had emerged from vastly different circumstances. Following a trip to Sicily by our delegation, Taormina became my adopted home away from home.

Since that first trip, I have been back to Taormina for holidays annually making this my sixth year in a row. A number of our residents and friends have also visited when they heard about our infectious affinity for this city. The warmth of the Sicilian people, the incredible food and near perfect summer weather makes the coastal city of Taormina the jewel of Southern Italy. So impressive is this small community, it was chosen to host the 43rd G7 summit on May 26–27, 2017. Arriving this year three weeks after the conclusion of the G7, I was curious to see how such a global event had affected the city. Pleasantly, Taormina has settled back into the same rhythm that makes it so desirable, albeit with some newly paved streets. After having been ruled at various times throughout history by Greeks, Romans, French, Spaniards and finally Italians; for the resilient Taorminians, the G7 was a walk in the park!

In addition to Taormina, Italy, Sunny Isles Beach has three other Sister Cities–Netanya, Israel; Hengchun, Taiwan and Punta del Este, Uruguay. I encourage anyone traveling near our Sister Cities to reach out and visit. Perhaps one of these might become your home away from home!