The original Godfather film is a Francis Ford Coppola masterpiece, loved by millions. There is also a significant Sicilian element to the story, although most of it takes place in New York. Some scenes are shot in Sicily, at locations that you can still visit today. They look the same as they did in the 1970s.
Corleone is the name of the town featured in the film. This is the name that the Godfather’s family adopted when they arrived in America. Corleone is a real town in Sicily, about 37 miles south from Palermo. Corleone also has a Mafia history. There are more than 150 Mafia deaths and a long list mob bosses that hail from the town. Coppola and his crew realized that Corleone was too sophisticated to be used as a model for 1940s-era Sicily when they were preparing to film “The Godfather.” Instead of filming in Corleone’s actual town, the crew used locations in two other Sicilian cities.
One of the Corleone stand-ins is worth a day trip from Messina or Catania (there are also special Godfather-themed tours), while another scene was filmed at Palermo’s most popular attractions. Even if you aren’t a Godfather fan, it’s a great way to spend your vacation.
Yes, there are movie spoilers in this article. Please proceed accordingly.
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Savoca is located on Sicily’s east coast, approximately 19 miles from Messina port and 13 miles from Taormina seaside resort. It was used as the backdrop to some important scenes from Sicily.
The Bar Vitelli was the location for many memorable scenes. It is a cafe/restaurant that looks almost exactly as it did during filming. It is located in the middle of the town in an 18th-century building. Inside, there is a small gallery with filmmaking memorabilia, including photos taken during filming as well as newspaper articles about Savoca and the movie. Just as in the film, the beaded curtains still frame the doorway to the bar.
Savoca also houses the church where Michael Corleone, a Sicilian, and Apollonia are married. Bar Vitelli is just a short distance from the Church of Santa Lucia, which is quite plain. You can also walk the same route as the wedding celebrants, back and forth from the church to the bar. Corleone is not near the coast so Savoca does not have stunning views of the sea. The filmmakers tried to avoid showing any sea views to make it seem like Corleone.
Savoca is so small that Coppola had to go to Forza d’Agro, a nearby town, in order to find another church to film. It is located just 10 miles from Taormina and 27 miles from Messina. It is eight miles away from Savoca.
Forza d’Agro is where Michael Corleone’s arrival in Sicily takes place. The backdrop to his first visit is the Church of Sant’Agostino. The same church was featured in “The Godfather II”, a scene in which Vito Corleone, a young man, escapes to America and another Mafia gang hunts for him.
Palermo is a must-see for anyone who views “The Godfather III” as equal to its predecessors. The film’s last scenes, in which Michael Corleone’s son plays in the opera and his little girl dies on the steps of the theater, were shot at Palermo’s Teatro Massimo, a beautiful historic center.
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