Taormina is an interesting place for me, and also a bit of a quandary: it is incredibly touristy, and you are often overrun by tour groups but at the end of the day, both literally and figuratively, I do love this city and its people and think that everyone should visit at least once in their life.
Finding anything other than tour-group overrun and typical is pretty difficult in this hill-top town, if not impossible. Although it’s not the most unique hotel, I did enjoy the Hotel Monte Tauro (http://www.hotelmontetauro.it/eng/index.html). The breakfast was lovely and if you are patient and wait until the inevitable tour group that has overrun the hotel have departed – typically after 9am – you can enjoy a peaceful breakfast looking over the sea. And despite the tourists, I must admit that the rooms, and more specifically their balconies, are worth the price (although I suspect every hotel in the city has balconies with views).
Despite all its restaurants, Taormina only has one slow food movement restaurant and trust me when I tell you, it is worth the trek and you really must find it: Tischi Toschi (no website). The inside restaurant has only a few tables and the outside just as few so be sure to book in advance because it is so worth it. Thankfully, the restaurant had vegetarian options for me but the food that passed my table, regardless of what it was, smelled and looked absolutely divine. And if you only have one night in Taormina, and you go here of course, you must have the “Sicilian pesto”: a wonderful combination of oil, garlic, almonds or pistachio, and a bit more garlic. Mmmmmm.
Another find that was actually recommended by the hotel was A’Zammara (http://www.zammara.it/lang1/) which truly was fantastic. Situated on a small side street, with its own garden, the food was lovely and expertly prepared, the staff really quite sweet, and solace of being away from the hustle and bustle of the tourists a welcomed respite from it all.
I’m not sure there are really sites that can be recommended besides those that are in every possible guide book. I would, however, strongly encourage you to take a day trip to Etna, even though it is touristy, as you can, for the most part, do whatever you want, and take as much time or as little to explore and see one of the largest and most active volcanoes in Europe.