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Visiting a Penis Bar in Sicily! | Castelmola and Taormina

This article was last updated in March 2024.

I love discovering lesser known destinations, and while Italy can hardly be described as a ‘lesser known destination,’ Sicily remains fairly off the beaten track compared to places like Florence, Venice, and Rome.

I first visited Sicily in 2019 and have been back countless times since, often spending months on the island at a time.

It was on my first trip that I discovered Castelmola and Taormina, two hilltop towns on the east side of the island, close to Catania.

I chose to visit Castelmola and Taormina on the same day, but if you have more time, you could spend a few days in each town as part of your East Sicily itinerary.

Because there is so little information online about Castelmola and Taormina (particularly the former), I decided to put together this guide to the two towns and why they make a great day trip from Catania.

I’ll discuss how to get there, what to do when you’re there (including the rather ‘interesting’ bar mentioned in the title!), and what you can expect from each place.

Let’s get into it.

Castelmola and Taormina – A Stunning Day Trip from Catania

Getting to Castelmola and Taormina from Catania

Hiring a Car

Many people travelling in Sicily choose to hire a car which is definitely the quickest and easiest way to reach Castelmola and Taormina from Catania.

Due to the nature of Sicilian drivers, I would only recommend doing this if you are a very confident driver! If you would like to hire a car in Sicily then you can find out more information at Do You Italy.

CouchSurfing Hangouts

I discovered quite a niche way of getting to Castelmola and Taormina from Catania!

I simply made myself ‘available’ on the Hangouts section of the CouchSurfing app (a great way to meet people while travelling), and wrote that I was looking for somebody to visit Taormina and Castelmola with.

I was hoping for someone to join me so that we could take the bus together, but within minutes, an Italian guy messaged me saying that he had a car and would be more than happy to drive me to both places, along with another guy from the app!

Of course, you are not guaranteed to get a ride with CouchSurfing Hangouts, and you should always read people’s reviews carefully as a safety precaution, but it’s definitely worth a try!

Taking the bus to Castelmola and Taormina

Every day there is a direct bus and train service between Catania and Taormina.

The bus takes 1 hour 10 minutes and costs around 5 EUR one way, and the train takes 50 minutes (prices vary).

The bus leaves frequently from Viale della Liberta in Catania. The bus company is Etna Trasporti, which is where you can find tickets, timetables, and other routes.

The trains leave even more frequently with 30 trains every single day connecting the two cities. The first train is at 4:50am and the last one is at 9:00pm and the trains leave from both Catania Centrale and Catania Europa.

From Taormina it is just a 15 minute bus ride to Castelmola. The bus leaves every 45 minutes from the bus terminal in Taormina or the bus stop just outside the entrance to the city.

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Castelmola Sicily – An Off the Beaten Path Experience

With only 1062 inhabitants (source), the sleepy village of Castelmola is not particularly famous, nor does it make the Sicily bucket lists of most.

However, that does not mean that Castelmola isn’t absolutely beautiful and well worth a visit.

This 530 metre-high town, perched on a rocky ridge, is so picturesque that it has been classified as ‘one of the most beautiful villages of Sicily’ countless times.

With its narrow streets filled with pastel-coloured houses, artisan boutiques, and sweeping views of the Ionian Sea and Mount Etna, it isn’t hard to see why!

The quaint streets of Castelmola
High up in the village of Castelmola

Things to Do in Castelmola

Almond wine and breathtaking views at Piazza San Antonio

As you enter Castelmola you will find yourself on Piazza San Antonino, the floor of which is paved in a pattern of black and white lava tiles.

From here, you can truly appreciate the incredible panoramic views.

On this piazza, you will find Antico Caffè San Giorgio which has been open since 1907, when it was opened by monks!

Back then, visitors would offered a glass of Castelmola’s famous almond wine, which is a white wine flavoured with oranges, herbs and – you’ve guessed it – almonds.

After you’ve taken some photographs of the gorgeous views, start your trip off right by enjoying a glass of almond wine at Antico Caffè San Giogio!

Good to know

  • Antico Caffè San Giorgio is open every day from 7:30 am – 6:30 pm (9:00 am on Thursdays).
  • You can find it at Piazza Sant’Antonino, 98030.
  • There is outdoor seating available on their panoramic roof terrace, or on the piazza itself.
  • The menu is vegetarian and vegan-friendly.
  • San Giorgio scores 4.3/5 on Google Maps, with 408 reviews.
Countryside views from Piazza San Antonino
Views for days

Bar Turrisi

After admiring the views from Piazza San Antonino, it’s time for something a little…different.

Bar Turrisi is a rather ‘special’ bar, with a unique theme.

I think that rather than tell you about the – ahem – interesting décor in Bar Turrisi, it’s probably easier to just show you…

Bar Turrisi castelmola
There is something…interesting about the chairs.
penis cafe sicily
And the lamps…
bar turrisi castelmola
The floors…

Yes, that’s right – Bar Turrisi is a penis-themed bar!

So, what’s behind all of this?

Well, the phalluses of Bar Turrisi actually tell an interesting story.

In the mid-19th century, Taormina and the surrounding areas were far more progressive than other parts of Italy.

During this time, painters looked back to the Hellenistic period which depicted nudes, many of which were created in Castelmola!

The liberal ways of bohemian artists and openness to sexuality were a way of life in Castelmola at the time, and so in 1947 when Mr Turrisi opened his business, he wanted to reflect exactly this!

Bar Turrisi sicily, Castelmola
Bar Turrisi is not for the fainthearted!

All of the furniture and objects displayed at Bar Turrisi have been commissioned by the family and carried out exclusively by Sicilian carpenters and blacksmiths.

While Bar Turrisi began as a kind of bazaar, it now functions purely as a bar and restaurant, serving burgers, pizzas, sandwiches, and more traditional Sicilian food.

If you stop for a drink here (they claim on their website that their almond wine is an aphrodisiac!), be sure to pay the extra 2 EUR and you can take your penis-glass home with you!

Good to know:

  • Bar Turrisi is open Mon-Thurs between 10:00 am and 8:00 pm, and on weekends from 9:00 am until midnight (1:00 am on Saturdays).
  • You can find Bar Turrisi at Via Papa Pio IX, 19, 98030.
  • There is outdoor seating on one of several lovely terraces with gorgeous views.
  • The menu at Bar Turrisi has plenty of vegetarian options, many of which can be made vegan on request.
  • Bar Turrisi has a rating of 4.4/5 on Google Maps, with 5055 reviews!
penis cafe sicily, Bar Turrisi castelmola
Even the three-legged symbol of Sicily (the Triskelion) has been…altered

Castelmola Castle

After you’ve finished giggling at the decor of Bar Turrisi, it’s time to take the short but steep walk up to where Castelmola takes its name from – Castello di Mola, or Castelmola Castle!

In 1078, Roger I of Sicily, a Norman count, conquered the area from the Muslims. The Normans then built a castle, but unfortunately, all that we see today are ruins from the 16th century version of the castle.

However, while the castle itself may no longer be very spectacular, the views over Taormina, Mount Etna, and the Ionian Sea make the uphill walk well worth it.

Castelmola sicily
The view from Castelmola Castle

I visited Castelmola on a busy summer’s day, but there was still a real air of tranquillity at the castle, and my friend and I were pretty much alone as we wandered around and enjoyed the sweeping panoramic views.

Castelmola Sicily
More stunning views from Castelmola Castle

As far as major ‘sights’ go, the castle is pretty much all there is to see in Castelmola.

To truly appreciate the village, I recommend spending some time wandering around the streets, having a nosy inside the local gift shops, and having lunch or an aperitivo at one of the many cafes dotted around the town.

Taormina Sicily – The Sicilian Dolce Vita

Taormina is a high-end resort town that is the polar opposite of Castelmola.

Perched on the side of a mountain, and with jaw-dropping views of Mount Etna, the Bay of Naxos and the Italian coast of Calabria, it is easy to see why tourists flock to Taormina each year to indulge in a spot of la dolce vita.

Views aside, the town of Taormina itself is also incredibly pretty, and many people choose to stay here for a few days rather than visiting as a day trip.

Things to Do in Taormina

Stroll down Corso Umberto

Corso Umberto is the main walking street in Taormina, and it is full of gift shops, antique stores, bars and patisseries.

This is the street that you will inevitably walk down on any visit to Taormina, and while it’s definitely the main spot for shopping, I will note that it’s more expensive than everywhere else I’ve been in Sicily.

Once you’ve strolled down Corso Umberto, head down one of the many narrow side streets and you’ll feel like you’re in another town entirely!

There are so many picturesque alleyways waiting to be explored, and you’ll have them all to yourself! This was my favourite thing about Taormina.

Corso Umberto, Taormina

Piazza Duomo

As you reach the end of Corso Umberto you will find the main square, Piazza Duomo, where there is a stunning Baroque fountain decorated with centaurs, as well as the Church of San Nicola (free to enter, although you must be dressed modestly).

This is a great place to stop for a coffee or an ice-cream!

Piazza Duomo
taormina cathedral
The Church of San Nicola in Taormina

Villa Comunale

If Corso Umberto and Piazza Duomo feel a little too crowded for you, head to Villa Comunale for a relaxing stroll.

Villa Comunale was originally settled by Lady Florence Trevelyan, a Scottish noblewoman who had an affair with Edward VII, before settling in Taormina and marrying a doctor.

Not only are the remains of the villa beautiful, but you can also stroll around the landscaped gardens and admire the Victorian follies built by Lady Trevelyan, as well as the palm trees, cacti, magnolias, hibiscus, bougainvillea, and more.

Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to visit Villa Comunale but the 7400 positive reviews on Google seem to suggest that it’s worth a visit!

Good to know:

  • You can find Villa Comunale at Via Bagnoli Croci, 98039.
  • There is no entrance fee.

Piazza IX Aprile

In my opinion, Piazza IX Aprile is even more impressive than Piazza Duomo – it might even be the prettiest spot in Taormina!

Piazza IX Aprile is located right in the middle of Corso Umberto, and while one side looks out onto the azure Ionian sea, the other provides a stunning façade of a medieval church and craggy mountain behind.

This is another great place to enjoy a coffee or cold drink, but be warned – prices here are higher than average due to the prime location.

Piazza IX Aprile
The prettiest spot in Taormina?
taormina sicily
Look at that water!

Ancient Greek Theatre

The Ancient Greek theatre, or Teatro di Taormina, dates back to the 3rd century BC, and paying it a visit is one one of the most popular things to do in Taormina.

In order to construct the theatre, the Greeks had to manually remove over 100,000 cubic metres of rock from the mountain!

While it was originally used as a theatre, the Romans later used it as an arena for gladiatorial battles.

These days, musical performances and theatre shows are held here during the summer, which must be a really special experience!

You can also explore the theatre during the daytime (14 EUR, with an optional audio guide for an additional 5 EUR).

Good to know:

  • You can find the theatre at Via Teatro Greco, 40.
  • For opening times and performance schedules, visit the website.

Castelmola and Taormina | Final Thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed my time exploring Castelmola and Taormina, and if you only have limited time in Sicily, I believe that combining a visit to both is the perfect day trip from Catania.

Not only are the two towns so close together, but you can explore each one in just a couple of hours!

Further reading:

If you’re planning a trip to Sicily, you may find some of my other blog posts helpful.

I’ve spent months in Sicily learning about the culture, food, and best places to visit, and I’ve created tonnes of comprehensive guides to this magical island!



Everywhere else!

So, that just about brings us to the end for today’s post, but as always, if you have any questions then please reach out and ask me in the comments section below!

Until next time,


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Exploring the Hilltop Towns of Castelmola and Taormina, Sicily - Catania is a great place to base yourself if you want to explore Sicily. Not only is it the place to be if you want to climb Mount Etna, but there are also so many possible day trips from Catania that I thought I would use my time in Catania to explore the nearby hilltop towns of Castelmola and Taormina. #catania #sicily #italy #taormina
Exploring the Hilltop Towns of Castelmola and Taormina, Sicily - Catania is a great place to base yourself if you want to explore Sicily. Not only is it the place to be if you want to climb Mount Etna, but there are also so many possible day trips from Catania that I thought I would use my time in Catania to explore the nearby hilltop towns of Castelmola and Taormina. #catania #sicily #italy #taormina

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  1. I stopped in Taormina for a day, just a day, on a journey between Palermo and Siracusa. And that’s the perfect amount of time. It’s really too expensive to stay longer, but it is cute just for a day. And I also skipped the old theatre, just like you did. Too expensive. Do a little shopping, have a gelato, and move on to Siracusa, the best place in Sicily. Hope you do a post on that.

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