Castelmola, a window over the sea a stone's throw from Taormina
Itinerary in Castelmola
Castelmola is a small jewel in the province of Messina. Its name originates from the ancient Norman fortress that is its symbol and of which few but fascinating ruins remain today. From here, the panorama embraces Mount Etna, the bay of Giardini Naxos and the stretch of coastline to the south. The ideal tour can start from the historical centre, perhaps with the company of a local guide who can tell you myths, legends and curiosities and recommend the right places to try the best of Sicilian cuisine.
The ideal tour can start from the historical centre, perhaps with the company of a local guide who can tell you myths, legends and curiosities and recommend the right addresses to try the best of Sicilian cuisine.
The original urban layout is medieval and very well preserved, divided between a maze of narrow streets, cosy squares and historic churches. Not to be missed is Piazza Sant'Antonino, with its mosaic pavement of white stone and lava rock, and a belvedere from which to overlook a beautiful Taormina, but also part of the Ionian coast and Calabria. Before moving on, take your time to admire the ancient stone arch that was the entrance to the village and has been moved to this very corner of Castelmola.
The Mother Church of Castelmola is dedicated to St Nicholas of Bari and overlooks a pretty little square, where you can stop before going on to discover the hidden sights. If, on the other hand, you want to reach the city's oldest religious temple, the one founded after Saint Pancras arrived in Taormina for his evangelisation mission, look for the small church of San Biagio.
A fascinating village
History, art and architecture come together in a place rich in different influences, thanks to the many dominations. Here, the Arabs, Romans, Normans and more have succeeded one another. For those who, in addition to the past, want to explore the beauty of the landscape, there are numerous paths and mule tracks to explore on foot, horseback or mountain bike.
Adrenaline lovers can experience the thrill of paragliding, at 900 metres to Mount Venus. This natural terrace built around the ruins of a Norman castle now resembles a millstone, hence the final part of the name, “mola”. All that remains of the building are the walls dominating the doors and windows of the local stone houses, coloured in soft shades ranging from yellow to antique pink.
3 gastronomic suggestions between the sacred and the profane
First of all, when you arrive in Castelmola, on the same square of Sant'Antonino, don't forget to taste the almond wine in the historic Antico Caffè San Giorgio. It was founded by monks in the 1700s, is a café used as a tavern and has an album with the signatures of all the illustrious people who have passed through here.
The second tip is for those who like alternative environments: in this case, the right address for a coffee is Bar Turrisi, which displays wooden, earthenware and ceramic fouls as a sign of luck and abundance.
Finally, a last tip for pampering the palate in Castelmola: do not leave without tasting the sugar-chilled almonds, fig mustard and, of course, the prickly pears themselves.