Alessandro is our guide from the port of Messinain Sicily, up the hills to the ancient towns of Forza d’Agro and Savoca where Francis Ford Coppola filmed the Italian scenes in the three Godfather movies.
Alex, as he instructs us to call him, is a charming and humorous local with a French wife and with two small bambini, whose family home is on the slopes of Mount Etna. Apparently the volcano has been ominously quiet for too many years, so any time now it is ready for a massive eruption. We wonder why he lives where he does, but during the course of the visit we learn a lot more about this man and his love for the local area – as well as how long it takes to escape from flowing lava…
But back to The Godfather. The main scenes filmed locally are of Michael Corleone (after escaping from New York, following his execution of a rival Mafia boss and a police chief) walking in the Sicilian hills, and meeting a local girl and marrying her in the church. Except it was two churches that were required for Coppolo to compile enough interior and exterior shots. The first is the Chiesa Della SS Trinita in Forza d'Agra, the second is the Chiesa Santa Lucia in Savoca. In the main square of Savoca is Bar Vitelli, the bar where Michael asks the owner for his daughter’s hand in marriage, just an hour or so after first sighting her on the path to the local stream. The current owners have created an informal museum to the movie so it’s worth an hour or so to visit and enjoy the atmosphere.
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