Our Holiday Cottage «Casa La Zagara» („Orange Blossom“) lies inmidst the little town of Forza d’Agrò, housing its 900 inhabitants 420 metres high above the eastern Sicilian coastline on a prominent rock (► Map). Looking down from the balcony on the narrow main street you may watch Carmela, friendly and helpful owner of the small alimentari on the other side sitting on the curb and cleaning her vegetables for the minestrone. Apart from the occasional motorino roaring past, the only noise you might hear is the cats playing in the sunshine. The view stretches over the roofs and way down to the coastline, where one beach town strings to another, and over the Straits of Messina to the calabrese mainland coast.
Starting directly at the back front door, a footpath leads you all the way up to the ruins of a normannic-saracenian XII century fort, which is completely dilapidated and only erratically open for visitors. Inside the castle walls the locals until recently have run their cemetery, now too falling apart, so the innocent visitor should prepare to stumble over some creepy bones...
The town itself builds in a concentric manner around the castle, the inner layer consisting of predominantly derelict simple stone cottages. Meanwhile, some of the houses and palazzi of the Sicilian Baroque built around this inner layer have been refurbished in a quite impressive fashion. The outer shell consists of rather carelessly architected modern buildings which should not deceive your first impression of the place.
Forza d’Agrò’s town centre is dominated by the church of „Santissima Maria Annunziata e Assunta“, which despite its impressive architecture, is much more often visited by fans of the „Padrino“ saga, where it has short appearances in all three parts.
Perched on a hill opposite the town centre is a recently renovated XVI century Augustinian convent. To get to it, you will have to walk beyond a fine Durazzesco gate.
However, Forza's real attractions are the spectacular views on the Mediterranean Sea, to Taormina and over to Mount Etna, and its relaxed village atmosphere, far from being spoiled by the occasional day tourist. And still, you will find everything in this place you need, two small „alimentari“ shops, a butcher, a pharmacy, even a tiny petrol station. And an amazing number of simple to excellent restaurants catering to every taste.