Savoca has been awarded among the Borghi di Sicilia più Belli d’Italia. It is located near Messina and is far from the mass tourist track. There are many sets of the famous movie “The Godfather” by Francis Ford Coppola, that is why Savoca is worldwide known. This small town has an ancient charm. It stands on a rocky hill surrounded by citrus groves, vineyards and woods. The stunning Gulf of Taormina overlooks the horizon.
While strolling in the historical centre, we can see white, scented elder flowers growing between the cracks of the old houses. The name of the village probably comes from this plant. It is also depicted in the town’s medieval coat of arms.
At the town entrance, we can admire ceramic bas relief panels. Here we find descriptions of history, art and local traditions. They depict coats of arms, Norman knights, work in the old spinning mill and the grape harvest. Salvatore and Giuseppe Zona created the artistic panels. They are near the town’s tourist offices, where it is possible to buy handicraft products and receive information.
Many tourists arrive in Savoca to visit the set where an unforgettable Al Pacino played the character of Michael Corleone. The first stop on the movie tour is the eighteenth-century Palazzo Trimarchi. The sign of the famous Bar Vitelli is still there. The Bar houses a museum where we can see many ancient objects. Here we can also admire the Byzantine fresco depicting St John Chrysostom, who founded the Christian Church of the East.
In the streets of the seven districts of the historic centre, there are medieval and Renaissance buildings, Baroque buildings and early 20th-century rural constructions. The royal castle of Pentefur belonged to the legendary founders of Savoca. Its ruins stand on a pre- existing fortification whose origins are shrouded in mystery.
The Normans built the town walls, and the remains of these fortifications are now precious evidence of medieval times. The ancient City Gate is still there and features a pointed arch made of local stone.
In the heart of the village stand out the ancient Town Hall and the Archimandrite Palace.
The movie tour continues to the Church of San Nicolò. It was the setting for Michael and Apollonia’s wedding scenes. The magnificent structure has three naves, and it stands on a rocky spur overlooking the valley.
The bravest visitors will be thrilled by a visit to the crypt of the Capuchin Convent Church. Here the Capuchin friars carried out the mummification of the bodies of the wealthy local aristocrats. The mummification process lasted sixty days. The natural drying phase took place in the putridarium of the Mother Church of Santa Maria in Cielo Assunta. The body was dried using a system of air currents. Once the process was complete, the mummy was elegantly dressed and transferred to the Capuchin crypt. From Ercole Patti to Leonardo Sciascia, many intellectuals and writers were deeply fascinated by this place.
The Convent is the destination for those seeking peace and tranquillity by following the Franciscan Way in Sicily. Take a look at the Via dei Frati too. Now it’s time to taste the local delicacies. Try the fresh, handmade tagliatelle pasta, seasoned with wild fennel and pork ragout. Or try the maccarruna, fresh macaroni pasta served with pork rinds in winter and aubergines in summer.
The culinary tradition of Messina influences the typical recipes of this place. Local specialities include u piscistoccu a’ ghiotta, and u pani cunzatu. Another delicacy you should taste in Sovoca is a cuzzola, a naturally leavened dough fried in olive oil and roasted over charcoal. Don’t miss the granita ca’ zzuccarata, a classic Sicilian lemon granita served with zzuccarata, a crunchy local biscuit topped with sesame seeds.