Savoca is a small town in Sicily (population less than 2,000); a convenient 45-minute drive in our rented Fiat from our hotel in Taormina.
The first sight that greets us as we enter the village is the panoramic valley, barely 50ft away – confusing because we didn’t see this idyllic view in The Godfather. It hits us then: Coppola filmed his Sicily scenes in Savoca with his back to the lush valley, dotted with tiny villages, old stone buildings and winding, tree-lined roads. He also completely left out the Mediterranean Sea, visible just beyond the valley from Savoca.
Our first stop in town (technically it’s a comune or municipality) is Bar Vitelli, which is right at the entrance to the village at Piazza Fossia, facing the view that we have been admiring. It’s at this bar that Michael met Apollonia’s father (the bar owner Vitelli), and “asked” his permission to court the beautiful Apollonia. It took just the name of Don Vito Corleone, the head of the Corleone crime family, and the quiet yet intimidating manner of his successor Michael, to get Vitelli to approve of the match; more on the wedding in Savoca later. Bar Vitelli is shut for the season (Italian places of business tend to down shutters during winter), but we hear the limoncello here is to die for. It has the same rustic feel that it did in the movie decades ago, with hand-painted signage, octagonal wall lamps, an old wooden door and vines snaking all over the facade.
The quiet village is turning out to be the perfect backdrop for a romantic side-trip on our two-week honeymoon. Luckily Sicily is never bitter cold, and so the sun’s gentle rays light up Savoca, with pots of brightly coloured flowers dotting street corners and parapets. The best way to explore Savoca is by foot, and we leisurely stroll around the town.