The Castello degli Schiavi is a jewel of Sicilian Baroque architecture of the 1700s, which has always been one of the most evocative constructions of the entire island. The Castle, which owes its name to a legend, is located on the Via Marina that flows from Fiumefreddo towards the sea. Famous for being used as a set for the famous movie The Godfather by Francis Ford Coppola, it is an exclusive location hosting a house / museum and lends itself to hosting prestigious events.
Castello degli Schiavi History
The Castle of the Slaves stands among the citrus groves of the magnificent Taormina Riviera and is a splendid example of Sicilian rural baroque of the eighteenth century. The fortified villa is just a few minutes from the Fiumefreddo nature reserve and the famous town of Taormina.
The building has a slightly sloping façade and this is thought to have been deliberately intended to further emphasize the decorations. The surrounding garden is very large, has its own well and is full of plants of various nature that make it very impressive. Adjacent to the building are the warehouses, the stables and the guardian's residence.
The Castle has two floors of which the lower one is dedicated to the conservation of what is produced in the neighboring land and the upper one, used as a dwelling for the owners. The entrance to the ground floor is represented by a very high central door, circumscribed by a lava stone cornice and with a light at the top. The upper floor has an elegant central balcony with a curved railing and three very precious hanging lamps. The door of this balcony is lined with lava stone decorated with various masks and flanked by two large windows, aligned with those below. At each corner of this floor there are small towers, which gave the building the name of a castle. Each of these is faceted, closed at the top and bottom and with slots on each side, some of which have carved eyes and ears. Access to the towers is internal and takes place by means of a small door. Very evident is the imposing loggia at the top of the building, located on the junction area of the sloping roof faces. Its height extension is three meters while the base measures about four and a half for three. It has three large arched openings on both the eastern and western sides, and two other of the same dimensions, on the north side and on the south side. In the direction of these openings you can admire the statues of two Moors. As for the interior of the Castle, it is very different between one floor and another. The lower floor is indeed a cold storage place for various food products, without lights. The upper floor, on the other hand, has eight rooms full of objects that can be traced back to the typically elegant lifestyle. Among these, worthy of particular attention are some valuable paintings, including among other things the coat of arms of the Gravina, ancient texts now unobtainable, the elegant furniture in typical nineteenth-century style and the valuable white doors attributable to the eighteenth century.
The complex has a large courtyard that can accommodate up to 400 people with a romantic well in the center and an underground environment with a capacity of 200 people ideal for hosting wedding ceremonies and business meetings. The Castle has experienced a period of great popularity in the late '60s when many directors chose it as a setting. In 1968 Pier Paolo Pasolini shot some scenes of the film "L'Orgia" and in 1971 it was the turn of Francis Ford Coppola who chose it to set some of the main scenes of "The Godfather" and "the Godfather II" giving the structure a world famous.
The Castle of the Slaves, in Sicilian "Casteddu di Scavi", owes its name to a legend: it is said that about two centuries ago, a talented Palermo doctor, Gaetano Palmieri, saved the son of the Prince of Palagonia, the Cruyllas-Gravina, and that these as a sign of gratitude have given him a plot of his fief located near Fiumefreddo. The Palmieri wanted to build a villa to live it together with the curious, Rosalia, who flirted with a certain Nello Corvaja of Taormina. Unfortunately one day they landed Turkish pirates who gave themselves to the savage looting and, once arrived at the castle, kidnapped the two owners with the intention of selling them as slaves. While they were returning to the beach to escape, however, they were joined by a group of armed young men, led by Corvaja: the pirates were killed, the survivors put to flight and the freed Palmieri. To thank God, a small church was erected adjacent to the Castle, dedicated to Our Lady of the Sacred Letter and a loggia was built where two statues of Muslims were placed with their eyes turned towards the sea, as if waiting to be freed from their companions. Precisely because of the presence of these two Moors (in Sicilian also "slaves") the Castle has assumed its current name.