Savoca is a relatively undiscovered little hill village that sits above the Ionian Sea a short distance north of Taormina and south of Messina. Savoca has been classified as one of Italy's most beautiful villages. Savoca is noteworthy for being one of the main filming locations for 'The Godfather' trilogy by Francis Ford Coppola.
Savoca is not so much a single village as various clusters of buildings that cling to the sides of a couple of hilltops and along the ridge between them. The beauty of the hillside, the spectacular views over the coast and the quiet charm of the village make this a lovely excursion to make from the lively town of Taormina on the sea edge.
As the village is spread out there are three small churches to discover as you explore. One of them, the church of Saint Lucia was the location of the wedding scene in the film, "The Godfather". The Chiese Madre, Mother Church has a crypt which was once used for mummifying the dead. It also has some Byzantine frescoes.
There is also the rather amazing though disquieting Capuccini Monastery which contains the mummified remains of 32 monks and rich gentlemen who died in the 18th century. The mummies are dressed and some of them amazigly well preserved.
Above the village on one hill is the ruined castle, the Castello di Pentefur, from the 12th century. Once there was a fortified wall all around the village and the entrance gateway still remains and is the lovely arched entrance to the village.
The pretty stone houses of the village are built of local stone and fit beautifully with the rugged countryside. Through the gateway you come to the town hall and the remains of the Archimandrite Palace.
In the village square fans of 'The Godfather' will be drawn to the Bar Vitelli which was used for several scenes. Outside tables make this a pleasant place to sit and soak up the sun whilst inside there are lots of photos taken during the filming of the movie.
Godfather fans will want to visit the village museum which contains filming memorabilia and photographs. There are also items relating to village life in this rural spot.
Behind the castle there is a tiny hamlet that has been restored and turned into a beautiful four star hotel, the Resort Borgo San Rocco, which comes very well recommended.
Access to Savoca is difficult. By car the roads are narrow and steep and very winding and parking can be difficult. Be sure to stay on the SP19 as the road gets much more difficult if you diverge onto the SP21. There is a bus service from Santa Teresa di Riva on the coast but its service is unreliable. Taxis are available but quite expensive.
Places to visit nearby
Corleone on the other side of Sicily is the birthplace of many of 'The Godfather's characters but it was too developed when filming for the Godfather took place in the 1970s and so Coppola chose Savoca and Forzà de Agro to be the main filming locations. Forzà d'Agro is another hilltop town and is a short distance south of Savoca. There are film tours that you can do from Taormina that take you to many of the location sights for filming of 'The Godfather'.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Sicily guide.