Visiting Castelmola, Sicily

Updated on August 12, 2017
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Traveling has always been one of my passions. It exposes us to new cultures, experiences, and makes the world a better, more tolerant place.

The view down to Taormina from Castelmola.
The view down to Taormina from Castelmola. | Source

Perched precariously on a mountaintop above the community of Taormina on the eastern shores of Sicily is the beautiful medieval village of Castelmola. Ignored by many visitors to Sicily, this quaint mountain top community offers unparalleled views of Mount Etna, Taormina, the Bay of Giardini Naxos, and the Strait of Messina. Built to protect and defend Taormina from invaders, today this quiet village makes for an interesting respite from the hustle and bustle of Taormina below.

While great views are a given in Castelmola, this sleepy Sicilian town has much more to offer. The remains of the “castle” will take you to the very top of Mount Tauro above the village, and while there is not much remaining, one can just imagine how grand it must have been perched here on the pinnacle of Mount Tauro. The 360 degree views from here make the short climb worth the effort and a quick look down to the sea makes you realize that you are indeed almost 2,000 feet above sea level.

Remains of the Castle

The remains of the Castle
The remains of the Castle | Source

Mount Etna

Mount Etna
Mount Etna | Source

Back down in the village itself there are a number of interesting cafes, shops, churches, restaurants, and narrow alleys to discover. With no traffic inside the center of Castelmola you can stroll with ease through the historic heart of this ancient community.

I must say that part of the attraction of Castelmola is gazing up at it from Taormina and wondering how on earth one gets themselves up there. There are really only two ways to get to Castelmola. Drive up on the only road, the Castelmola Road, with its twists and turns, or walk up. The latter, while it sounds adventurous, should be done only with the proper preparation as it is a seriously uphill climb. If you choose to hoof it you can walk the road or there is a well maintained path that will take you to the top. Give yourself at least an hour or longer to hike up and about half that coming back down.

Castelmola from Taormina

Castelmola from the Taormina Greek Theatre
Castelmola from the Taormina Greek Theatre | Source

The Road to Castelmola

The road to Castelmola.
The road to Castelmola. | Source

If you do not have an auto while visiting you can opt for a taxi or the local bus, which is what most visitors decide to do. The 15-minute ride from the Taormina bus station will cost you about 3 euro for a round-trip fare, which is quite reasonable. Buses leave at regular intervals and on our journey there were very few people on board. The bus will deposit you at the Piazza Sant’ Antonio, which is a beautiful piazza paved with white lava stone. The views out over of Taormina and the Bay of Giardini Naxos from here are stunning.

Piazza Sant' Antonio

Piazza Sant' Antonio
Piazza Sant' Antonio | Source

Once you arrive in Castelmola you will immediately notice the narrow streets and quiet solitude that exists in this community of just over one thousand residents. Visitors who find their way up to Castelmola may at times feel like they have the entire town to themselves.

As you explore the alleys and roads here you will undoubtedly make your way to the Duomo of Castelmola. Known otherwise as the Church of St. Nicholas of Bari, this small yet interesting church dates back to the sixteenth century and was rebuilt in 1935. Its long history presents visitors with a unique mix of styles including Romanesque, Arabic and Norman. Inside the church are a few statues dating from the eighteenth century and some noteworthy artwork from the sixteenth century. Its beautiful bell tower strikes an imposing figure with Mount Etna looming behind it in the distance.

Bell Tower of the Duomo

Bell Tower of the Duomo
Bell Tower of the Duomo | Source

Another church worth visiting is the church of San Giorgio, which dates back to the 15th century. Its simple exterior houses a number of 17th century paintings. The main Piazza Sant’ Antonio also has a few interesting buildings including the Church of Sant’ Antonio and the Caffe’ San Giorgio, which was established in the 18th century by monks. This quaint establishment is a tavern today and boasts of its long history of attracting famous people from around the world.

Church of Sant' Antonio and the Arch of Castelmola.

Church of Sant' Antonio and the Arch of Castelmola.
Church of Sant' Antonio and the Arch of Castelmola. | Source

Another interesting and often visited church is the Santuario Madonna della Rocca. This shrine dates to 1640 and is certainly one of Castelmola’s most unusual churches. Built on, in, and around the rock of Mount Tauro this unique church has a ceiling that is made of solid rock. Its cross can be seen from the streets of Taormina below.

Madonna della Rocca

Madonna della Rocca
Madonna della Rocca | Source

In preparing for our trip to Castelmola we came across an interesting bar/café that reviews insisted was a must stop. So it was with some surprise that we discovered the Bar Turrisi located in the same piazza as the Duomo, which would seem rather odd when one considers the theme of the Turrisi Bar, also known as the Funky bar. This rather popular spot has a very adult theme to it, which I’ll leave to you to look up. It’s just another unique and interesting reason to visit Castelmola. While here head to the rooftop terrace for the views and be sure to sample the local almond wine, which Castelmola is famous for.

Caffe' Bar Turrisi

Caffe' Bar Turrisi
Caffe' Bar Turrisi | Source

If you are visiting Taormina for a few days do yourself a favor and put aside a half day and head to Castelmola. This unique medieval mountaintop village should not be missed and the views are unsurpassed. Whether you simply walk its streets peaking into its lovely churches or opt to stop at a cafe for lunch or a drink the spectacular setting here will be ingrained in your memory for years to come.

Ciao for now.

You never know what you'll run into in Castelmola!
You never know what you'll run into in Castelmola! | Source
show route and directions
A markerCastelmola, Sicily -
Castelmola Province of Messina, Italy
get directions

B markerTaormina, Sicily -
Taormina Province of Messina, Italy
get directions

A markerCastelmola, Sicily -
Castelmola Province of Messina, Italy
get directions

© 2013 Bill De Giulio

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    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 2 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Alun. Castelmola is definitely worth a visit. It's a quaint little town to explore with those unbelievable views. Some people make the trek up the hill, which was tempting, but the bus was easy enough. The Turrisi Bar was interesting to say the least :) Thanks for stopping by, have a great day.

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image

      Greensleeves Hubs 2 years ago from Essex, UK

      It's so nice and useful to see these 'off the beaten track' towns and villages, which offer sights and experiences often unique to the area. I've never been to Sicily, but when I do, a half day spent in Castelmola does seem well worth while, not least for the photographic opportunities, as indicated by your images. Very good, and probably the best general article on Castelmola in English on the Internet. Voted up Bill.

      Oh, and I did look up the Turrisi Bar, as you suggested. Others may do the same if they wish :)

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Carol. So wonderful to see you here today. Are you surviving the heat our there in Arizona?

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Glimmer Twin. yeah, this has not been a good year for flights to Europe. They are pretty expensive right now. Keep checking, you'll get back there soon enough.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      even though I am not writing currently I like to drop in and read my favorite writers new hubs. As always interesting and enticing.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      Just beautiful. I really need another Europe trip. Too bad flights are so doggone expensive these days.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi rajan. Thank you, the road to the top was amazing, just beautiful. And the views over the sea and of Mt Etna were stunning. Thanks so much for the vote, share, pin, etc...

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Great place Castelmola is, Bill. Lovely place and love the horseshoe shaped road. The scenery around and from top is amazing.

      Voted up, beautiful, useful, sharing and pinning.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi prasetio30. Thank you. Castelmola was wonderful, such a beautiful place. The road is something else with all the twists and turns. Thanks so much for stopping by and the vote, have a great day.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 4 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Very informative hub, brother. I had never heard about Sicily in Castelmola before reading this hub. Wow...I think it's a beautiful village. I also love the bend road over there. Thanks for sharing. VOTED UP :-)

      Prasetio

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Mike. Thank you. It certainly is a wonderful destination, we really enjoyed Sicily. Thanks so much for visiting and taking the time to comment.

    • Mike Robbers profile image

      Mike Robbers 4 years ago from London

      A wonderful destination, Bill and as usual great photography!

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Tom. Yeah, I think going up on the scooter would have been a lot of fun. It certainly is an interesting area. Great scenery. Thanks for visiting, have a great day.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi CMHypno. Thank you stopping to read about Castelmola. Isn't Taormina just stunning? We would go back in a heartbeat. Glad you enjoyed the hub.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Joe. Thank you. I have been very aware of backlinking lately as many of my hubs are related and touch one another. I figure it can't hurt. Thanks so much for the encouragement, we'll give it a shot and see where it takes us. Have a great day.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thank you Alicia. I am getting close to the end of our Sicily travels so I may need another trip soon for more places to write about :) Thank you as always for taking the time to read and comment. Have a wonderful day.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Pam. As I was writing this hub and looking back at my photos I realized how much we really enjoyed this trip and how much I miss Sicily. I really is beautiful. Many thanks for the vote, share, etc. Have a great day.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Mary, Thank you. I really appreciate the wonderful support and encouragement. I'll do a little research and homework first and we'll see where it takes me. Thanks so much for the vote, pin, etc... Have a great day.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Rose. Thank you. This certainly was off the beaten track, but well worth the effort. The views were simply amazing. Thanks for stopping by and the vote.

    • Tom Schumacher profile image

      Tom Schumacher 4 years ago from Huntington Beach, CA

      Nice hub! Love the city's architecture and I'm sure the people and culture is equally interesting. I vote traveling up to Castelmola via scooter or convertible! Thanks for sharing.

    • CMHypno profile image

      CMHypno 4 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

      I only stopped in Taormina for a couple of hours on a tour, but it was so lovely that I really want to go back and spend more time there. The views are breathtaking and the history fascinating. Thanks for sharing your great photos and information

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Bill H. is absolutely spot on, Bill D.!

      You are a fabulous travel writer, improving with each new hub you produce. If you ever decided to write for travel magazines--and maybe you already have or are seriously considering it--I just know you would be very successful at it. Those of us who follow you faithfully, Bill, are so privileged to indulge in great writing graced with beautiful photography. As I grow in my awareness and understanding of how the technical aspects of HP work, I also want to congratulate you on the excellent backlinking you're doing. You're setting a wonderful example for those of us eager to learn how to improve our game. Aloha, my friend!

      Joe

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is another great travel hub to add to your collection, Bill. Whenever I read one of your hubs about Italy I'm always envious of your travels! As always, the articles and the lovely photos are very interesting. Voted and shared.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 4 years ago from United States

      This is a wonderful article that makes you want to pack your bags and travel to Sicily. What a beautiful island. Your pictures and information is wonderful. Voted up and shared.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      Definitely take the first step Bill....Bill is right....hmm, is that confusing? Anyway this hub is great from start to finish. You provide so much interesting and useful information and your pictures are truly stunning. If you aren't able to get these wonderful hubs in travel magazines perhaps you should challenge Steve Perillo ;)

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting. I couldn't resist pinning it either!

    • rose-the planner profile image

      rose-the planner 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario-Canada

      Great travel article about Castelmola Sicily with beautiful images. I always find that the best times when traveling is when it's off the beaten track. Thank you for sharing. (Voted Up) -Rose

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Suzie. Thank you. We did make the most of our time there. We always comment on how exhausted we are when we return from these trips but there is so much to see and my mentality is to try to see and do everything. As with Billb, I do very much appreciate your support. I am going to be very envious when you get live in Italy. Have a great weekend :)

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Bill. Thank you for the compliments :) I just may give this a try. Need to do a little research first but I think you have convinced me to at least take the first step. Thanks so much for the support and encouragement, I really do appreciate it. Have a great weekend.

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Bill,

      What another gorgeous spot in Sicily. The views are spectacular at that height and the hilltop villages are always a sight to behold in Italy. What a trip you had making the very most of your time and getting a real flavor of Sicilian life and culture. I think I will spending much time on this island. Beautiful post and pics - you never fail to deliver my friend! Votes, shares, pins!

      Have a great weekend :-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Magazines are just waiting for articles like this one. There is a big literary world out there with your name on it, Bill. If I could write travel articles as well as you do, I would have a very steady income and then I might be able to actually....travel. LOL

      Have a great weekend my friend.

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