The voices of Fredo, Sonny, and Michael Corleone loom large in the city of Palermo. The images of the Godfather swirl around the island of Sicily. Vito Corleone fled from his family’s life on the island, searching for a better life in New York. The story has been told in various ways but none more poetic or memorable than the story of the Godfather. When your flight lands at Falcone-Borsellino Airport, your private transfer greets you at the baggage claim and helps you with your luggage.
The history of Palermo resembles that of New York City, settled by cultures from around the globe and incorporating the traditions and elements of the collective ensemble into the everyday landscape. Cobblestones pave the streets and plazas. The honey-hued exterior of the Norman Palaces gleams in the sunlight. Palm trees shade the walkways. Jovial calls rise from La Vucciria market; La Vucciria means “voices” in the local dialect, and you can hear the vendors reaching out to passersby strolling alongside the vibrant local produce.
Your private transfer escorts you to your hotel located in the heart of the old city. Imposing churches border Piazza Pretoria. The fountain crowns the edge of the square with tiered basins rippling in concentric circles. Statues of nymphs decorate the staircase, river gods reach out to the water, and tritons symbolize elements of the sea. The fountain was erected in the 16th century, adding to the glamorous history of Palermo and inviting you to witness the elements that affected the Corleone Family. Consider learning about your tour operators for Sicily, and you'll understand how they're able to craft an itinerary you can't refuse.
Settlers around the world, from Arab armies to Spanish kings, have left their mark on the island, leaving traces in the culture, architecture, and even dialect of Sicily. At breakfast, you find the enticing aroma of freshly baked ciambelle, fried dough brushed with sugar. Your guide greets you in the lobby of the hotel and leads you out into the embracing streets. Kids play soccer in the streets near Borgo Vecchio. The aroma of grilled calamari sprinkled with a squeeze of lemon overtakes the walkway. Fishers showcase their fresh daily catches along the marketplace, and local restaurants offer to cook your choice right then and there for you to enjoy. The Norman Palace was first erected in the 9th century but was overhauled by the Normans in the 11th century.
Inside the palace, you find the stunning Palatine Chapel. Gold mosaics decorate the interior, casting an ethereal glow across the nave when the sunlight pours through the windows. The 12th-century chapel contains a wooden honeycomb ceiling embellished with star-shaped panels. The geometric elements connect the mixture of Arab culture that persisted in the city after the Norman invasion. Depictions of saints are carved in wood and painted along the vaulted ceilings. The significance of devotion remains strong in Sicily, and the church has always been important to the Corleone Family. We first meet Don Vito on the day of his sister’s wedding. In the evening, you make your way to a restaurant that specializes in traditional local cuisine. Indulge in the stunning flavors of Palermo with a selection of wines paired with each dish.
At breakfast, you sip your freshly brewed frothy cappuccino. You can hear the sounds of the market coming to life across the city. After your meal, you venture to the bustling edges of Corleone, the town from which Vito Corleone took his name after he entered America. The tale of the Don may be fictional, but it was inspired by an amalgamation of lives throughout Sicily affected by family squabbles, business vendettas, and a sense of the town being forgotten after the reunification of Italy. Your guide is a local of the town providing a history of Corleone and the mafia inside Sicily. Corleone is a developed city with a history as a mafia stronghold.
Your guide leads you through the cobbled streets off Piazza Garibaldi, where you come across the CIDMA, a captivating museum dedicated to anti-Mafia sentiment and documenting crime-family evolution. When you enter the complex, a large “No Mafia” sign greets you. In the final room are pictures of famous and infamous faces, those of Dons and soldiers, along with the men and women who have fought organized crime in Italy with justice or sometimes even their lives. The museum has a powerful impact due to the documentation of those who continue to work for justice, along with the city’s historical connection the mafia.
You continue to the Royal Palace of Ficuzza outside of Corleone. The structure was erected in the 19th century and maintains its original neoclassical look. Rocca Busambra, the mountain framing the palace, rises 5,291 feet above sea level. The largest forest in western Sicily surrounds the village of Ficuzza, of which the palace crowns. The sandstone color shines brightly against the emerald trees. It was once a hunting lodge for Ferdinand III of Sicily, son of King Charles III of Spain. The aroma of chestnut and oak trees sweeps across the grounds. Trails lead through the forest and to the mountain summit.
In the morning, fishing boats glide into the harbor with freshly caught seafood. The fishermen are eager to head to the market and display their fresh catches. At breakfast, you sip a refreshing espresso accompanied by a flaky brioche before venturing to Sicily’s northern coast. The scenic drive takes you along the Palermo-Messina motorway. You notice the large church perched on the summit of a tall mountain overlooking the sea. It is the Sanctuary of the Black Madonna of Tindari.
The church stands on an archeological site peppered with Greek and Roman architecture dating back to the 4th century BC. Floor mosaics decorate the baths. Archways lead to the well-preserved theater. The plateau overlooks the shimmering azure waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea. You can see the Aeolian Islands scattered across the horizon. The Sanctuary of the Black Madonna is located on the highest point of the hills at 590 feet above sea level. The sanctuary was erected in the 1960s on a particular area of local legend. Outside of the local village, goats and sheep graze on the landscape.
The Byzantine statues of the Madonna originated in the 9th century and were brought by pilgrims. It is easy to imagine the Corleone Family participating in the Feast Ceremony every September, in dedication to the Black Madonna. You continue to Taormina. The seaside city overlooks the quiet turquoise waters of the Ionian Sea. Cobblestones pave the historic lanes winding along the hillside. The Sanctuary of Madonna della Rocca was constructed over the base of a medieval fortress. The architects built the nave into the hillside using the limestone as a ceiling. The remainder of the day is yours to enjoy the luxuries of Taormina. Linger in cafés, sipping wine along the elegant streets or enjoy a view of the illustrious sea from the public gardens.
In the morning, you listen to the gentle warm ocean breeze brush along your villa. On the horizon, you can see the towering summit of Mount Etna rising to a height of nearly 11,000 feet above sea level. Today your guide meets you at your hotel and leads you to the village of Savoca, nestled between the sea and the Peloritani Mountains. Rustic stone cottages line the medieval streets. Quiet churches make you recall Michael Corleone’s wedding. Your intuition is correct, as this is the town in which his marriage to Apollonia was filmed.
Bar Vitelli retains its rustic ambiance and stands at the village entrance. The table where Michael requests Apollonia’s father for her hand in marriage sits underneath the shaded patio area. Curtains sweep across the door. You feel that any minute a man with a mustache will walk through the curtains and pass out drinks. The main street leads to the church. You can follow in the footsteps of Michael Corleone and Apollonia after their wedding by strolling along the main street beneath the fading shadow of the church’s façade.
You continue to the village of Forza d’Agro. The narrow streets lead to the Norman castle overlooking the city from atop the nearby mountain. The town of Forza d’Agro acted as the backdrop for the town of Corleone during the films. The church in the town appears in Godfather Part II when Vito escapes to America after hiding from Don Ciccio’s men. It is also the church when Michael first appears in Corleone alongside his bodyguards. Neither Savoca nor Forza d’Agro feels as though they have changed since Michael Corleone called Sicily his home.
In the morning, the cafes around Taormina set out their tables and chairs alongside the cobbled walkways. The 17th-century clock tower adorns the central square and contains foundations set in the 4th century BC. The fountain in Piazza del Duomo spritzes the warm morning air with refreshing water. The day is yours to enjoy Taormina and its surroundings as you please. Trek to an altitudinal crater along Mount Etna or linger in the warm sand on the shores below Taormina. The history of Syracuse is captivating, filled with ancient allure blending with contemporary lifestyle. The past is quickly visible on the small island of Ortygia. The Fontana Aretusa is an ancient spring set in front of the cathedral.
Freshwater continues to bubble around the wild-growing papyrus. The spring was once the city’s main water supply, attributed to the goddess Artemis. Ducks glide across the water, lingering in the shade of the papyrus. The historic walkways turn into a labyrinth of alleys winding through the old guild quarter and former Jewish Ghetto. A mikveh, a traditional cleansing bath, was discovered more than 65 feet below the city. The celebrated antique puppet theater is located nearby, reenacting treasured tales of magicians and princesses, knights and dragons, stories once promoted by the dons of the region who helped enforce the laws of the land during the ever-changing political landscape of Sicily.
From atop the Greek Theater in Taormina, you have an unadulterated view of the azure waters of the Bay of Naxos brushing the coastline and the sweeping landscape rising to the snowcapped peak of Mount Etna. Marble pillars and red ruins frame the view. At breakfast, you retrace your time in Sicily, recalling the connections to the Godfather films. You ponder the evolution of the Cosa Nostra, an entity created to enforce the law among the townships and which ended up growing to be an influential powerhouse that extended beyond Sicily. Your private transfer meets you at the hotel after your meal and escorts you the airport in Catania for your flight home.
The history of Sicily is complicated and vast, filled with the ancient ruins of Norman kings, Arab architecture, and infamous mafia dons. Your 7-day Godfather tour in the Sicily takes you along the historic route of the Cosa Nostra (Sicilian Mafia) as made famous by the Corleone family in The Godfather Trilogy. The trail begins with your arrival in Palermo. Your private transfer greets you at the airport and escorts you into the heart of the city. The remainder of the day is at your leisure to enjoy the vibrant and eclectic culture of the old city.
The following morning, your guide greets you at the hotel and leads you on the first of many sensational Sicily tours, carefully observing the layers of history adorning the streets, with each detail added to the formation of the mafia in Sicily. In Monreale, you visit the Benedictine cloister and Norman cathedral. Return to Palermo to delight in a restaurant celebrated for its traditional regional cuisine, similar to what Michael Corleone’s mother Carmela would make. Next, venture to the city of Corleone in Sicily. You meet your local guide who is well versed in the history of the Cosa Nostra on the island, along with its significance around the world.
Once at the Mafia Museum, you explore the exhibits with exhilarating intrigue before continuing to the Ficuzza Royal Palace, a former hunting lodge of the King of Sicily. Next, you travel along the northern coast to visit the Sanctuary of the Black Madonna of Tindari, located alongside ancient Greek ruins. Continue to the coastal town of Taormina and visit the 17th-century Sanctuary of Madonna della Rocca. You make your way to the towns of Savoca and Forza d’Agro, which doubled as the small town of Corleone during the filming of The Godfather series.
The quiet atmosphere, along with the famous bar at which Michael first meets Apollonia remains. The following day is at your leisure for you to enjoy the charming beaches on the Bay of Naxos or visit a winery on the hills of Mount Etna. You could also take a magnificent historical tour along the ancient streets of Syracuse. On your final day, your private transfer meets you at the hotel after breakfast and escorts you to the airport. You have faithfully retraced the history of the Corleone Family and found the meandering trails of the entire Cosa Nostra.
Note: Zicasso and “The Godfather Tour of Sicily” are not affiliated with, or sponsored or endorsed by, Paramount Pictures Corporation.
$1920 per person (excluding international flights)
This trip is customizable for your private travel.
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.
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