.Although it overlooks Taormina, one of Sicily's most famous attractions, the nearby town of Castelmola is rarely visited by non-Sicilians. However, the spectacular views of this fascinating place make those of Taormina seem almost trivial. This naturally includes Etna, but on a clear day it is possible to see beyond, up to Syracuse and Augusta and further down along the Ionian coast, beyond Catania. Castelmola can also be defined as a location in its own right. The human presence here is ancient, dating back at least to the Bronze Age.
The Greeks began the complete colonization, linked to their settlement in Taormina. It was then that the first fortresses were built. Little remains of these settlements or of the successive Arab and Norman fortifications, even if some walls have been reconstructed. The sanctuary of the Madonna della Rocca, famous locally for its annual procession that descends the steps of Taormina, offers some fantastic views. A small town eventually grew up here, but few people live here all year. Castelmola is best known for its restaurants, bars and pizzerias. The Turrisi Bar, with its bizarre phallic theme (in sculpture, paintings and other works of art) remains the most eccentric attraction. The local specialty is almond flavored wine. The squares and winding streets are fascinating.
Unless you arrive by helicopter, there are two ways to get to Castelmola. By car, just follow the winding road to Castelmola; during the day there is also a bus to Castelmola. On foot, take the stairs that go up to the sanctuary (or convent) of the Madonna della Rocca. This can be reached from the streets behind and above the Church of San Giuseppe (San Giuseppe) off one of the main squares of Taormina. All this assumes that you are in good health. (If it's hot, bring some water with you.)
On Mount Tauro, there are actually different parts of Castelmola beyond the main city and the few remaining parts of the "primary" castle. The area of the sanctuary is one of these, near the new "secondary" castle (built on the foundations of an ancient Greek acropolis), visible from Taormina. This convent church is usually closed. In the city itself the main church, San Giorgio, is a more recent structure built on medieval Byzantine foundations.
Local festivals are St. George's Day (April 23rd), sometimes celebrated on April 22nd, and the summer festival on August 28th.