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Sunday, 12 August 2007

Size matters for Sicilians

Caffe Turrisi is perhaps one of the most extravagant, original places in the whole world and deserves to be seen.

It stands on a lovely piazza in Castelmola, the highest peak on top of Taormina, huddled against a mountain overlooking two beautiful bays.

The owner Peppino, together with his wife Rosa refurbished the bar as it stands today, particularly concentrating on enhancing the interior. They recognised that their era was particularly happy and prolific. Having had three sons within five years, there was one particular symbol that could represent it all: the penis, vulgarly referred to in Sicilian as:
La Minchia.

The idea of the penis has definitely had a big impact on the population, especially on the priests from the neighbouring church. However, in the following years the symbol was accepted by everyone and became a important part of the bar. In fact, it is represented in different shapes, lengths and materials; in wood, ceramics, terracotta, worked iron, pasta and marzipan. The Minchia sets the tempo of the bar and the moods of all those within it. The penis is not a vulgar symbol and finds its roots in Greek culture, where the god Priapous represented fertility, freedom, fortune, life and beauty. Greek culture has had a strong influence our Sicilian culture for centuries.

Specialising in phallo-eccentric decors, even the restroom tap features "two balls and more!"

The Cafe develops vertically in a three storey building, dividing into smaller and smaller lounge rooms, balconies and alcoves, where, surrounded by handcrafted penises the visitor can relax, enjoying the local dishes and sipping the unique almond wine found only in this area.

How to get there:

This extraordinary place is definitely a hidden gem.

Coming from Taormina, you need to follow the road climbing up to the mountain. Castelmola is the highest peak so you cannot get it wrong.

Alternatively you can catch one of the frequent buses.

The starting place is for sure the parking piazza, because either if you come with the car or with the bus the stop is at the same place. Take the nearest stairs that lead you to Saint Anthony's square (Piazza di Sant'Antonio) where you'll see the arch that once ago was the old entrance of the town. The piazza offers the first taste of the gorgeous panorama you can find in this place. Carry on into the narrow street of the town following Pio IX street that leads you directly to the heart of Castelmola, Duomo's square (Piazza Duomo), where the Bar Turrisi is located.

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