There are many great places to visit in Italy, but a trip to Sicily will give you an inside look into a famous Italian empire chock full of gangsters, money and the legendary Godfather who was brought to life by Francis Ford Coppola in his movies of the same name. The searing imagery of Michael Corleone's sojourn in the Sicilian countryside in "Godfather II" created some of the most memorable imagery of the entire franchise, and that's why the little town where it was filmed, Savoca, features a variety of popular Godfather tours that are guaranteed to impress even the most seasoned fan.
Getting to Savoca
The town where the tour is taken, Savoca, is remote and requires much travelling and planning before you get there. You will need to get to Catania Airport if you are flying. From there, you will need to take a 13-minute bus or taxi ride to the train station, where you can take a train to Taormina,which is 45 minutes away. If you chose to drive from the airport, the travel time to Taormina is approximately 47 minutes. Those driving to Taormina should keep in mind that most of the streets in town are closed off to traffic, so you will have to park outside of town. Certain accommodations offer onsite parking, but during the summer months, these spots fill up quickly so you will want to call in advance to see if they have any available. Once in Taormina, you can arrange your Godfather tour which is roughly 24km (15 miles) from the town. People stay in Taormina instead of Savoca because it has all the amenities and necessities that travellers need. Savoca is a very small town, and doesn't have many options in terms of accommodations, so unless you want to rough it, you will want to make your home base Taormina.
Tour guide services
The most popular way to take the Godfather tour is through a tour guide service such as Sicily Life or Well Arranged Travel (see Resources). These excursions provide you with a personal guide who will drive you from the main town of Taormina to the smaller area of Savoca, where most of the "Godfather II" filming took place. The guide will provide you with a history of the area and take you to the famed spots where the most pivotal scenes in the movies were filmed. You will get to do some wandering and sightseeing on your own and after you've had your fill of the town's Hollywood history, you will be able to check out some of the other popular surrounding areas like Forza D'agro, which is well-known for its natural seaside beauty. Prices start at €325 for a 4-hour tour for two, but drop considerably when you add more people to your group. Short and cheap bus tours are also available through the tourist information office, located at Palazzo Corvaja - Piazza Santa Caterina, and start at €30 per person.
There are a variety of limousine companies in Taormina, such as Sicily Limousine Service (see Resources) that do Godfather tours to Savoca. Depending on where you are staying, the limousine will pick you up and take you to the famed town while stopping at landmarks like Bar Vitelli, which was featured numerous times in "Godfather II." Taking a limousine offers travellers a roomy travel experience in addition to increased mobility should you want to make unscheduled stops. Most companies will charge a flat rate of €500 for an 8-hour trip.
Most major hotels in Taormina, such as the Grand Hotel Timeo (see Resources) have Godfather tours that take you to and from your hotel in one day. This is a great choice for those who want a group tour and easy transportation to and from the hotel. The set-up will be similar to most guided tours, taking you to sights like Bar Vitelli and and the Church of St Lucia (where the wedding of Michael Corelonee to Apollonia took place).
Many people prefer the freedom of doing the Godfather tour by themselves. This requires a little more planning and preparation, but also allows you more freedom and mobility. To plan a do-it-yourself Godfather tour, you will need to get an up-to-date Godfather tour map (these can be purchased at many stores, hotels and through the tourism information office in Taormina), a car, and if you want to be safe, a GPS. The roads in the small towns of Sicily are small and confusing, so if you are not bringing a GPS, you will want to map out your driving route carefully beforehand or do quick overview of the trip at the tourism information office.
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