Sicily – Messina province – red-faced in Castelmola

Having walked to the top of Monte Tauro above Taormina (see previous post), I could see my next destination ahead of me, on the top of yet another hill.

Due to the defensive advantages of its elevated position, Castelmola was the site of the original Taormina settlement. The village takes its name from the large rock on which it stands, which resembles a “grinding wheel” (mola). The castle of Mola was for centuries the strongest link in a defensive chain of local villages.

I strongly recommend clicking on these galleries to appreciate the wonderful views on the walk upwards.

The town itself is a picturesque warren of narrow streets, side alleys and little flights of stairs. You can easily understand why Castelmola has been included on the list of Most Beautiful Villages in Italy.

I’d already identified my lunch spot…

Bar Turrisi (Intermediate A), 19 Piazza Duomo,

The bar has a balcony on each floor, and a big roof terrace, so you can sit outside and enjoy the view. The food was pretty good (B/B+). I had the Spaghetti Marinara (with clams, mussels, prawns, garlic and parsley) with a half litre of white table wine, followed by the Formaggi Misti (mixed cheeseboard) of Ricotta Informata, Maiorchino, Pepato and some other local seasonal cheese.

As you’ll notice quite quickly, everything in the restaurant follows a phallic theme, from the menus to the floor tiles, to the light fittings and bathroom taps. Apparently the bar inherited a private collection and it seemed a shame not to have it out on display.

Castelmola is famous for Vino alla Mandorla or ‘almond wine’, a dry white wine (Zibibbo I think) flavored with alcohol infused with bitter almonds, herbs, citrus essences and caramel using ancient Greek infusion techniques. It was invented by Don Vincenzo Blandano, the founder of Taverna San Giorgio, the first restaurant in Castelmola, who offered a glass of “Blandanino” as a welcome drink for any guests who managed to climb up the hill. I got some to take home from Bar Turrisi, in suitable bottles of course. They threw in a couple of matching glasses for free.

The highest point in the village is the castle although there’s not much left of it to see. But again, it’s all about the views. Please click on the photos to expand them.

The walk back was long but much easier than coming up! I certainly got the workout I wanted. There are a few buses each day that come up here but the timetable is a work of fiction apparently. You’ll find everywhere mentioned on my Taormina map.

Off to Siracusa next!

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