Taormina, Castelmola & Savoca
The elegance and history of Taormina plus two of the prettiest hamlets in Sicily.
A NOTE ABOUT DRIVING TIMES
About 2 hours and 45 minutes in total.
Perched high on a cliff overlooking the Ionian Sea, Taormina is a beautiful place with a great story to tell. It was inhabited prior to the the arrival of the Ancient Greeks, who established Taormina as one their earliest colonies in Sicily. Today you can touch still touch this part of Taormina's past by visiting the Greek Theatre, which is in excellent condition and offers stunning views of the brilliant blue sea with Mt. Etna beyond. (If history and scenery aren't your thing there are lots of shops and restaurants to explore.)
Over the millennia, as in so many parts of Sicily, Taormina has been influenced by many diverse peoples and cultures -- everything from the Moors to the Normans to the Crown of Aragon to the Bourbons -- which can still be seen in its architecture. Its prosperity has endured throughout the various eras, evidenced today by the elegance and size of its cathedral and many of its buildings.
By the end of the 19th century Taormina had become a haven for artists, writers and intellectuals, attracting such notable visitors as Oscar Wilde, Richard Wagner and Tsar Nicholas II. Today the town is host to a variety of arts festivals encompassing film, music, dance and theatre.
From Castelmola you can see all around — Mt. Etna, the Ionian coast, the Bay of Giardini-Naxos, Cape St. Alessio, the straight of Messina, even the coast of Calabria. Built around the remains of a Norman castle, Castelmola has everything that you hope for in a Sicilian hilltop village. Besides strolling through the picturesque streets you’ll want to stop in Piazza Sant’Antonino to admire its mosaic lava-stone pavement and the views. For a taste of the past stop in at historic Caffè S. Giorgio, founded by monks in 1700. Here it is said that celebrated owner Don Vincenzo Blandano used to offer almond wine scented with citrus, perhaps of his own invention, to visitors as a sign of welcome.
On a rocky hilltop, amidst vineyards and groves of citrus and olives, emerges the Medieval hamlet of Savoca. Known to tourists as one of the two locations where Francis Ford Coppola shot scenes for The Godfather, Savoca is reputed amongst Italians as one of the loveliest villages in the country.
Here time seems to have stood still. Enjoy the almost mystic silence, lush wooded territory and views of the Gulf of Taormina, or visit some of the locations made famous by Coppola's capolavoro.
DURATION: 9 hrs
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