Perched on a jagged hill, the medieval Savoca is not a typical tourist destination, meaning there are no long queues of tourists at its main attractions. Unlike the buzzing cities of Palermo or Catania, Savoca offers a rather laid-back, and tranquil getaway filled with historical and cultural discoveries. Its deep lush green valleys dotted with olive groves, then the meandering roads, breathtaking views of the Ionian Sea, and cottages with orange rooftops make it a wonderful place to visit in eastern Sicily.

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Back in 1972 when the award-winning movie-’The Godfather’ was released, Savoca came into the limelight and some movie fans came here to witness its sheer beauty. Savoca was listed among the top villages for its medieval architecture and history by the Association of the ‘Most Beautiful Villages in Italy’ (Borghi più Belli d'Italia), an initiative by the tourism council of the National Association of Italian Municipalities(ANCI) in order to promote Italian medieval villages for tourists. Those who had enough of the glitz and glamour of the typical Italian cities will find Savoca an ideal go-slow getaway. Keep reading to find out why.

Unique Attractions In Savoca

Over the centuries Savoca has witnessed many conquerors notably the Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, and Normans, which is why visitors can still find many ancient ruins, castles, and medieval churches.

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Pentefur Castle

The Pentefur Castle is one of those attractions in Savoca, where one can enjoy both the quaint architecture and the majestic view of the Gulf of Taormina. Historians have debated much about its date, but most of them believed that it was built in the late Byzantine period. The castle went through several facelifts due to the earthquakes that hit the region in the past. It was once served as a summer residence of Roger II of Sicily, but today it is privately owned.

  • Address: Piazza Fossia 7, 98038 Savoca, Sicily Italy

Bar Vitelli - The Godfather Film Set

Movie lovers will undoubtedly recognize Bar Vitelli for its vintage charm, and shooting scene from the movie ‘The Godfather’. It was here where Michael Corleone, the protagonist of the movie meet his future father-in-law. Just 17 minutes drive away from the bar is the renowned 13th-century church of San Nicolò, where Michael Corleone and Apollonia got married.

And those looking for a low-key restaurant with an amazing sea view will definitely enjoy the setting. Expect to find delicious local cuisine, especially their lemon gratin is a favorite among frequent diners.

  • Address: Piazza Fossia, 7, 98038 Savoca ME, Italy
  • Opening Hours: 9:00 am - 10:00 pm

The Capuchin Crypt

Another place of interest is the Capuchin Crypt situated in front of the Capuchin Convent in the historic center of the town. This place is not for the faint-hearted as it hosts about 37 mummified corpses of patricians. There are five chapels that are adorned with human bones and skulls. Visitors will get the chance to learn more about the history of the Capuchin Convent and the well-kept skeletons.

At the last chapel, visitors will find a special message which reads-’ Quello che voi siete noi eravamo, quello che noi siamo voi sarete’ , this can be translated to ‘what you are we were, what we are you will be '. This philosophical message is similar to what Mexican cartoonist, José Guadalupe Posada depicted through his work-’Todos Somos Calaveras’-we are all skeletons.

  • Address: Via Vittorio Veneto, 27, 00187 Roma RM, Italy
  • Opening Hours: 10:00 am - 7:00 om

Cultural Immersion - Feast Of Saint Lucia

The beauty of small towns like Savoca lies in their old traditions and customs, and one way to experience a cultural immersion is by witnessing the Feast of Saint Lucia. The patron Saint, Santa Lucia is a key figure of the event, which is believed to date back between the 17th and 18th centuries. The feast usually takes place on the 13th of December, while the patronal feast normally falls on the second Sunday of August, organized by the homonymous confraternity. This is a wonderful time when out-of-towners get to see the procession all through the streets of the historic center, whereby Santa Lucia is represented by a little girl carried on the shoulder of a man. There are many historical anecdotes associated with Santa Lucia, but the main purpose of the event is to celebrate the victory of good over evil.

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When visiting Savoca one can instantly connect with its pristine surroundings and the authentic culture it has to offer. Such kind of experience doesn’t happen in touristy places. Savoca is undeniably a wonderful destination, where visitors get to stroll on quiet streets while picking wild fruits, enjoy breathtaking views of valleys and the glistening sea, and also participate in the local festivals that have historical significance.