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Itinerary Porta Catania – Castelmola

By Sicily Holidays in : Itineraries, Taormina // May 10 2010

From Porta Catania we go uphill to the Via Diodoro Siculo and walking along the Via Chiusa we come across Piazza Von Gloeden. From here we go up the steps in front of the drinking mountain and meet the old Via Saraceni.

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It was in ancient times that this street connected the medieval village of Castelmola with Taormina before the construction of the provincial road becoming a well trodden path by those on foot and on the back of a donkey. This street also offers exceptional views of landscapes that, little by little as we go up widen onto a panoramic horizon with a view of the surrounding coast and mountains. Even here Etna and the sea are the main attractions. Broom, figs, mulberry and ogliastri together with Indian fig trees and natural herbs accompany us on our climb. Halfway along our route we come across the Porta Saraceni, a small door from the first period of the medieval fortification of Castelmola.

Going up, our new view settles on Mount Tauro where the Royal Castle of Taormina rises up in solitude (ninth to fifteenth century)testimony to the fight between the Sicilian barons and the King of Spain. At the foot of the castle is the small shrine to the Madonna della Rocca whose small church came entirely from a cave which preserved the miraculous image of the Madonna As we continue the horizon widens further until we can see the gulf of Giarre and in the distance the coast of Catania. Going up we come across the chiesetta di San Biagio (Church of Saint Biagio), a small recently restored rural church which preserves traces of wall frescos made popular in the eighteenth-century, depicting the Madonna between Saint Biagio and the angels..

The last stretch of our climb takes us to Castelmola, a small village of medieval origin which for centuries was under the authority of Taormina until it became autonomous in 1947. As we go around the first corner we can see the Sicilian necropolis “a grotticelle di Cocolonazzo di Mola” dating back to the Iron Age (10-8 sec.a.C), which was excavated by the famous archaeologist Paolo Orsi.

Walking along the alleyways of this little village we arrive at Piazza Sant’Antonino, a wonderful viewpoint on the panorama of Taormina. From this square we can reach the remains of Mola castle (ninth-fifteenth century) which with the Royal Castle were the two medieval strongholds of the city of Toro.

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