In the clouds at Castelmola

While the views from Taormina are spectacular, its tiny cousin Castelmola, 1,800 feet above sea level, offers absolutely stunning ones.

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Cobblestones, ruined castles and winding alleys almost devoid of tourists, offer a breathing space.

Although the sun was beginning to go down, as our little bus trundled up the hill towards the village, you begin to appreciate the views.

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You’re dropped off in the main square where pretty cobblestones and terracotta roofs retain the sense of unbroken tradition.

The castle in Castlemola is a ruin. There is little of the castle itself to see, but it’s well worth making the climb for the views. Below is the castle cafe seen from the village square.

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As is common around Sicily, every alleyway is an open air art gallery.

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Heading upwards to the ruined castle finally gives us the most spectacular views of our entire trip.

The name Castelmola apparently comes from the Norman castle dominating the centre of town and from the shape of the rock on which it stands, which vaguely resembles a millstone or “mola”.

A few more colourful details from around the town itself. Apologies for jumping around but this new “improved” WordPress layout seems to be a nightmare for inserting pictures!

Here’s another vertiginous view over the bay from the castle.

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More artwork on the ancient village walls.

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Head down, through Via De Gasperi, the main street of the village, past shops selling lace, embroidery and souvenirs and you pass the Bar Turrisi below which exhibits phalluses of wood, clay and ceramic.

We take a break for pizza and beer at a rustic restaurant and, if you squint, you can see the brooding Mount Etna in the background.

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Gargoyles and grotesques adorn the walls outside the famous Cafe Turrisi which has a bizarre collection of phallic decorations!

Below is the door of the church of San Niccolo’ di Bari .

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