6 top things to do in Forza d Agro, Sicily

 

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SEPTEMBER 2020

Narrow streets, cobbled stones and big potential is what you can expect in the small town of Forza d’Agro, Sicily.

A destination we’ve visited often when living in Sicily, it’s not one that I’ve yet written about.

And, while Forza d’Agro doesn’t quite attract the visitor numbers like Taormina, its hidden gem status makes it a must-see.

Not a full day — Forza d Agro, Sicily

Given its small size, a visit to Forza d’Agro won’t take up a full day.

For longer Sicily day trips, places such as Erice and Ragusa are better options.

However, for a mini outing, and to see somewhere that not many visitors frequent, Forza d’Agro is ideal.

5 things to do see in Forza d Agro, Sicily

1. Visit the castle (from a distance)

Sitting at the highest point of Forza d Agro, Sicily is the remains of a former Norman castle. It was built during the reign of the first Count of Sicily, and dates to the medieval era.

Once you’ve climbed the numerous flights of uneven stony stairs, you’ll notice a padlock holding together the main gates. 

We only discovered that the castle had been permanently closed to the public for a few years. On our last visit, we thought it was closed due to refurbishment works, but sadly, this wasn’t the case.

Some search engines say that the castle is ‘temporarily closed’ so check before visiting to avoid disappointment. 

Exploring the grounds — Forza d Agro

If it was open, you’d be able to see several sights, namely the castle ruins and a number of tombstones. These refer to when the castle grounds were used as the municipal cemetery of Forza d’Agrò in the 19th century.

A bell tower and the remnants of an altar reveal fragments of a former church, the Chiesa del SS. Crocifisso.

While the castle itself is no longer accessible, getting to the top is still worth a visit.

The stairs leading up are as rough and rugged as its clifftop location.

Saying that, suitable walking shoes are a must; hiking shoes/boots are even better.

The steps up to the castle at Forza d Agro

The steps up to the (currently closed) castle at Forza d Agro

 

“Narrow streets, cobbled stones and big potential is what you can expect in the small Sicilian town of Forza d’Agrò.”

2. Photograph the views

 The biggest advantage of being situated on the lower peak of a mountain, is the views that come with it.

While the castle would be the obvious, and most ideal, spot, Forza d’Agro is blessed with several great viewing points.

The drive up to the town offers several opportunities for photographing the sea below and the castle above.

Piazza Giovanni Paolo XXIII is one spot to catch a glimpse of local life as well as the surrounding scenery.

In the old town — Forza d Agro

The walk up to the castle consists of a labyrinth of narrow winding streets and plenty of dead ends.

As the incline gets a little steeper, the panoramic views become ever more show stopping.

All in all, visiting Forza d’Agro is nonsensical if you arrive with no camera or worse, a low phone battery. Come prepared, and see sights like these for yourself.

Plants and the view from Forza d Agro

House plants and another viewing point from Forza d Agro

 

3. The only church in the village

There’s no missing the fantastic Chiesa della Santissima Annunziata when entering the old town from Piazza Cammareri.

Its construction dates to the 15th century, and like many churches in Sicily, this one has survived plenty.

An earthquake in early 1649 destroyed much of the church, meaning a complete rebuild. Forty-four years later, the builders’ hard work was undone once more by the devastating Val di Noto earthquake of 1693.

In the aftermath, the roof and the façade were rebuilt, the façade in classic Sicilian Baroque architectural style.

Whether day or night, the church is a joy to photograph. Open to the public, please be mindful of parishioners that are praying or when there’s a mass taking place. 

Chiesa della Santissima Annunziata at Forza d Agro

Chiesa della Santissima Annunziata at Forza d Agro

4. Walk the old town

The best time to visit Forza d’Agrò is on a weekday, and preferably in the late morning (11am).

September in Sicily is my favorite month given the slightly lower temperatures and the fewer number of tourists.

Wandering around the old town at this time of the day and week gives you a glimpse into daily life.

 

Grocery store in Forza d Agro

Signs of simple living in Forza d Agro

 

A convenience store selling fruits, vegetables and other produce is overwhelmingly quiet. An elderly nonna sits huddled over a bowl of green beans, topping and tailing them in serene silence.

It’s a snapshot of local life up close, giving visitors a taste of simple living.

Where the greatest potential lies, is in the many abandoned, or run-down houses. Many of them hold the original masonry and the character of an era gone by.

It’s possible to see Forza d’Agrò transform into a place even more charming, and dare I say, more touristic. Some locals have rebuilt newer homes next to older structures, though some represent the original features better than others. 

A traditional brick house in Forza d Agro

A traditional brick house in Forza d Agro

5. Eat pizza in the piazza

On warm summer evenings, al fresco dining comes to life at Antico Muri.

A local pizzeria in Forza d’Agrò, it’s a place we’ve been frequenting for a few years.

Try and grab a table with a good view and just enjoy the produce. Lunchtimes are much quieter, apart from the weekends.

The pizza isn’t just delicious, it’s reasonably priced and in a central piazza of Forza d’Agrò.

Extra tip: Dinnertime in Sicily is usually a late affair. Similar to dining in Spain, many Sicilians have dinner at around 9.30pm, 10pm or even later.

As visitors, you can eat at whatever time you want. However, if dining with Sicilians, you might want to eat something light beforehand, or have an early evening aperitivo.

Pizza at Forza d Agro

Delicious pizza awaits at Forza d Agro

6. Il Padrino

For fans of the The Godfather franchise, it’s worth mentioning that some of the scenes were filmed in Forza d’Agrò.

A house called ‘Casa di Il Padrino (the godfather)’ sits in the small street of Via Roma. You’ll find it just after passing the Chiesa della Santissima Annunziata. 

However, the label of ‘tourist attraction’ for the house is a little misleading. This is because the front door is the main attraction and not the house itself. The movie features the exterior but not the inside.

Instead, what you’ll find is a tile next to the door, with a shot of the scene from the movie.

A little disappointing maybe, but still worth seeing if you’re crazy about The Godfather.

A street in Forza d Agro

Visit the scene of The Godfather in Forza d Agro

What do you think about Forza d’Agrò? Does it look like somewhere you’d like to visit? Let me know in the comments below. 

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that I’ve recommended. Thank you for your support.

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Views from Forza d'Agro Sicily Italy
View of the castle and houses in Forza d'Agro Sicily
A grocery store and the streets of Forza d'Agro Sicily
Lisa Rivera

Lisa Rivera

Founder

 

Welcome to my site! I'm Lisa, founder of Following the Rivera. I write primarily for a ‘flashpacker’ audience, a demographic (late 20s onward) that enjoys glamping over camping and staying at boutique/luxury boutique hotels. Flashpackers also like to indulge in the local food and wine, cultural activities, as well as a spot of wellness on their travels. Want to know more? Read on....

       

 

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