Castelmola is a medieval village in Sicily, located only a ten-minute drive from the better-known Taormina, but worth discovering for its beauty and for its Turrisi bar, one of the island’s most extravagant attractions.
Turrisi bar is an ancient restaurant/bar that, since its founding in 1947 by the Turrisi family, has passed from generation to generation. Today it is a cult place in Sicily, where you can enjoy the typical flavors of the Mediterranean, but also admire a very special collection of phalluses. Yes, you read that right: the place is decorated with an incredible number of penises, made of wood, stone or wrought iron.
How did this bizarre idea of Bar Turrisi come about? The answer lies in the history of Sicily and ancient Greek culture
The phallus in centuries past was a very important symbol in Greek mythology: the god Priapus, in particular, was worshipped as a symbol of fertility and fecundity, and his figure was often depicted with a huge erect phallus.
The phallus was not necessarily worshipped in a literal sense, but rather was a symbol of a broader concept, namely male potency. This power was sometimes represented through the phallic symbol, but it was still understood as a set of virtues and attributes associated with the male figure in Greek culture, such as strength, courage, wisdom, and justice, as well as freedom and luck.
Today, Turrisi bar’s phallus collection has become a unique and unusual piece of furniture: from tiles to chandeliers, from menus to cart keys, phalluses are everywhere. One should not think, therefore, that it is just a kitsch curiosity. In fact, as we have just seen, it is a tribute to the history and culture of Sicily and ancient Greece.
Turrisi bar, among the seven most peculiar places in the world according to Focus magazine
“Focus” magazine has listed the Turrisi bar among the seven most peculiar bars in the world. Inside, everything is aimed at representing and celebrating the male sex organ: from the statuettes to the door handles, from the tiles to the bathroom faucets, from the paintings to the mirrors, from the chairs to the lamps, from the shape of the menu to the shape of the glasses where the almond wine is served, which is the bar’s signature product.
Almond wine is, in particular, a special aphrodisiac that is made according to an ancient local recipe. Many people come here, not only to admire the special collection, which is a real phallus museum, but also to try this local delicacy. Tradition has it that this drink originated in the Turrisi winery. Almond wine is usually served chilled with a twist of lemon or orange to accompany dessert or as an end to a meal.
Castelmola and its Bar Turrisi, a destination for the LGBTQ+ community
Castelmola and its Bar Turrisi have become a popular tourist attraction, particularly for the LGBTQ+ community.
But we have to go further back to remember how beloved Sicily was to past queer generations. In the 19th century, Sicily became a popular Grand Tour destination, attracting many young upstarts from all over Europe. In particular, Catania and Taormina were famous for their freedom, attracting many men from the gay community of the time in search of privacy and fun. Among them was the famous writer Oscar Wilde, who visited the region in 1892.
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