Castelmola is a hilltop village perched above the historic town of Taormina in eastern Sicily and from the main square in the village and from the castle you can look down over Taormina and the Ionian Sea in one direction and you can also look over to Mount Etna in the opposite direction.
The village has been classified as one of the "most beautiful villages of Italy".
Italy This Way comment: Castelmola is quite a small village that is quick to explore, and really you need to get the bus to come here from Taormina, but because of the views and the chance to explore the narrow streets of the village we do recommend you make the excursion.
To reach Castelmola from Taormina we recommend that you take the bus, which is cheap and easy to use. If you drive, you will find that the road to get here is often narrow and it is difficult to pass oncoming vehicles and there is very limited parking when you get here...it will probably be quite a stressful adventure!
The village originally developed around the Castle Mola that was built in Norman times. Little remains of the castle today but the village is thriving.
Castelmola is entered through an arch that leads to Piazza San Antonino, a large square with a tiled floor made of black and white lava and surrounded by views of the beautiful hills and valleys of the region.
To one side of the square is Caffè San Giorgio from wher you have spectacular views across Taormina and the bright blue waters of the Ionian Sea. The Caffè San Giorgio is something of an institution in Castelmola as it has existed since it was opened by monks in 1700.
It was Don Vincenzo Blandano, owner of the tavern who invented the famous almond wine that you really have to try when you visit the village. The white wine flavoured with almonds, orange essence and herbs was given out by Don Vincenzo Blandano to welcome visitors to the village
Take a look in the visitor book in the cafe as it has been signed by famous people who have visited since the beginning of the 20th century. I should mention that we were also given a free sample of almond wine in the small cafe on the other side of the square, and the coffee costs lest in this less famous cafe...
Walking through the village towards the Piazza Duomo and the mother church you pass a few quaint shops selling lace and embroidery and houses whose windows and doors are decorated with the white lava of the area.
Signs and balconies are made of wrought iron and the buildings are painted in lovely pastel shades. The small historic centre is quite charming, especially coupled with the wonderful views.
Also on the way to the Mother Church is an unusual bar, the Bar Turrisi, which is full of phallic ornaments made of wood and ceramics. Further along, the Mother Church occupies a splendid position with some wonderful views and inside it has a wooden statue by the school of Bagnasco.
Another church in Castelmola is the church of San Biagio with an eighteenth century fresco.
After exploring the village you can follow the path from the main square that leads up to the ruins of the castle. The castle has very ancient origins and a marble plaque near the church dates from the 10th century and refers to the castle, so it is assumed the castle was built in the 9th century and some experts believe the castle was here in Roman times.
There is not a great deal to see of the castle walls but you have more chances to enjoy the views across the town and coast.
Places to visit nearby
Of course if you are visiting Castelmola you are almost certainly visiting or staying in the lovely town of Taormina down the hill from Castelmola. Its remarkable Roman theatre is well worth a visit and the town is one of our favourites in Sicily.
Giardini Naxos is a beach resort just south of Taormina, and the village of Savoca to the north of here is well known because it was used during the filmng of the Godfather film: like Castelmola, Savoca is classified as one of the "most beautiful villages of Italy". Other villages with this classification near Castelmola include Castiglione di Sicilia, Montalbano Elicona and Novara di Sicilia.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Sicily guide.