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The Bar Turrisi is one of the places not to be missed when visiting the village of Castelmola. Its worldwide fame is due to its very special decor. Everything inside is shaped like or resembles a phallus. Do not be afraid, the atmosphere inside is absolutely peaceful and fascinating. For a complete experience, we recommend tasting the typical almond wine, served in glasses obviously shaped like a phallus. The bar has four different floors, and from each of the balconies overlooking Piazza San Nicola you can enjoy a breathtaking view.

The history of the Bar Turrisi in Castelmola

One of the rooms inside the Bar Turrisi
One of the rooms inside the Bar Turrisi

The Bar Turrisi in Castelmola was founded in 1947 by Salvatore Turrisi. The son of a miner, he returned to Castelmola after the Second World War. However, he decided not to follow in the footsteps of his father, who worked in the countryside. So he opened a small bar near the Cathedral of San Nicola. At first it was a place where everything was sold: almonds, Sicilian dolls, chairs, gazosas and wine. Over the years it took on the appearance of a real bar, where the famous almond wine was also served. The fame of the Bar Turrisi, however, was due to its very special decor. In fact, Salvatore Turrisi began to fill his establishment with phallic symbols. The bar, now in its third generation with grandson Massimo Turrisi, is world famous for this very reason. In the 1990s, an article in Focus magazine listed Bar Turrisi as one of the “seven most peculiar establishments in the world.

The phalluses of the Bar Turrisi: fertility, Sicilianity and happiness

One of the phallic figures inside the Bar Turrisi in Castelmola
One of the phallic figures inside the Bar Turrisi in Castelmola

When you enter Bar Turrisi, you will notice that everything inside, from the door handles to the lamps to the floor tiles, is shaped like or reminiscent of the male penis. You may wonder why this is such a bizarre choice. Apparently, Salvatore had two great passions: women and Greek mythology. Inspired by the iconography of the cult of Priapus, the Greek god of fertility, he began to decorate the place with phallic symbols. Over the years, the collection of objects grew, thanks in part to gifts from friends. After Salvatore, the management of Bar Turrisi passed to his son Giuseppe, who further accentuated the presence of phallic objects throughout the premises. The current owner Massimo, Salvatore Turrisi’s grandson, decided in 2014 to completely redesign the bar, trying to harmonize all the elements in a more elegant way, sometimes even stylizing them.

The ritual of the almond wine, the elixir of love    

One of the typical products of Castelmola is the almond wine. It is an ancient recipe of Greek origin that consists in flavoring wine with bitter almonds, citrus essences and natural aromas. It was invented by Don Vincenzo Blandano, owner of another historical place in Castelmola, the Antico Caffè San Giorgio. Salvatore Turrisi also used to offer his guests an almond wine, prepared by himself, which was naturally presented as an elixir of love. In fact, the first historical name of the Bar Turrisi was “Taverna del mandorlo in fiore”. The tasting of almond wine at Bar Turrisi, served strictly in penis-shaped glasses, is obviously a must in Castelmola. Perhaps with a cannolo alla ricotta, the Sicilian dessert par excellence and apparently also a clear phallic reference.

Taormina and Castelmola between love, passion and openness

It is not by chance that a place like the Bar Turrisi, a triumph of passion and fertility, is located in Castelmola. In fact, since the 19th century, Taormina and Castelmola have become a small oasis of happiness in Sicily, where love, passion and frankness flourish. If you visit Casa Cuseni in Taormina, you can admire the Arts and Crafts decoration that Frank Brangwyn created for the dining room. A mural depicts the homosexual love of Robert Kitson and Carlo Siligato and their historic adoption of a child in 1908. Knight Turrisi’s imagination may also have been stimulated by the series of nudes by Wilhelm von Gloeden. Inspired by ancient Greek statues, the 19th-century German photographer took several shots of young local boys. And what about the book that scandalized Victorian England, Lady Chatterley’s Lover? Apparently, David Herbert Lawrence was inspired by his wife Frieda von Richtofen’s affair with a muleteer from Castelmola: Peppino d’Allura.

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