Before talking about Savoca I will tell you a story you probably already know.
Sicily, 1950. A young man with dark skin and American accent decides to hide in this island, first from legal justice, and second from a vendetta from the mafia.
He does not know Sicily, from where his ancestors come from.
He has just killed a mafia drug dealer in New York and a police inspector with several gunshots at point-blank in a crowded restaurant in NY.
This young man seeks honor, respect and avenge the attack that his father has just suffered and almost ends with his life. His father was called Vito Corleone, and he, with no doubt is Michael Corleone.
The previous passage is one of the most remarkable events of the classic saga of “The Godfather”. Michael flees to the island of Sicily, where old friends of his family, which was completely murdered by the mafia of Corleone, still live. The only one who managed to survive as a child was his father Vito, who fled to New York and built his own empire from scratch.
In Sicily Michael finds his deep roots. Tradition, a culture that is familiar to him and now he truly discovers. Each and every one of the Sicilian passages in the saga are wonderful, reflecting perfectly the Sicilian reality of the time. And so, when Michael falls in love with a Greek girl and goes to her father to ask for her hand in the “Vitelli Bar” where he works. In this trilogy we are transported back to that time of entrenchment, tradition and family.
Most people believe these scenes were filmed in the town of Corleone, also famous for the countless mafia ties linked until nowadays. However, most were shot in the small medieval village called Savoca, in the province of Messina.
How to get to Savoca
Savoca is only 30 minutes from Taormina by car, so it is a good option to visit this village on a day trip if you are visiting Taormina coming from the north. No doubt, visiting Savoca is one of the best things to do in Sicily. To get to the village located on the hill you have to cross a steep curved road. Little by little, you go up with the mountain in front of you and the sea in the rearview mirror.
If you are traveling from Messina you must take the A18 and exit at “Roccalumera”, continue along Furci Siculo and S. Teresa di Riva. From Catania, also take the A18 exit Taormina nord, continue towards Letojanni, S. Alessio Siculo until you reach S. Teresa di Riva.
things you must see in Savoca
Savoca does not need tourist guides or maps, just relax, enjoy it, and breathe the historic air of this medieval village.
The first stop on the main square of Savoca is the famous Vitelli Bar where Michael asks for the hand of Apollonia, the young greek woman he has fallen in love with. The bar is a museum itself. It retains the original door and even the same curtains that were there for more than 40 years when The Godfather was filmed. It is the most popular location of Savoca.
Inside, you can find numerous photographs and objects of the saga, such as the famous Luppara shotguns.
The Vitelli Bar is not only the typical tourist site crowded with people attracted by the mysteries of the saga. We were surprised with the high quality products at affordable prices that they offer inside. Basically it is the typical village bar, only with many more tourists. We highly recommend the “Granite di pistacchio” on its outside terrace.
Historic Churches in Savoca
After the Vitelli Bar, up the steep main street, you can find the next obligatory stop for all lovers of the saga; The “Chiesa di San Nicolò”, where Michael and Apollonia get married, dance and celebrate their wedding.
The rest of the town can be visited in an hour. Especially, I recommend you to go up to the “Chiesa di Santa Maria in Cielo Assunta”.
Once there, you can enjoy incredible views with green mountains on one side, and the ionian sea at the background.
Other churches that you can visit are the Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista and the Chiesa di San Michele. All the churches are open to the public although they ask for a donation of € 2 to enter.
MUSEUMS in SAVOCA
There are two museums to visit in Savoca. The first, which we have already mentioned, is the Vitelli Bar museum where there are two rooms with elements that were used to film the saga of the Godfather. This museum is free.
The other museum is the Museo Storico Etnoantropologico di Savoca. The entrance has a price of € 6.
OTHER placeS you must see IN SAVOCA
The best advice to visit Savoca is just relax and take your time! This way you will discover places not shown on the travel guides, like part of the medieval wall where there is still an archway or the old entrance to the city.
Another thing we liked a lot in Savoca was the Piazza Fossia where the Vitelli Bar is located and where there are great views of the valley.
If you want to do some other activities in Savoca I recommend you to walk to the Castello Pentefur where you will also get wonderful views to photograph.
We suggest this stop especially for all those fans of the saga and the cinema history. If you have not watched the films yet we highly recommend to do so before your visit, you will see not only Savoca but all Sicily in a very different way 😉