When I was first planning the Sicilian leg of my most recent Italian adventure, all my Italiani were raving to me about how fantastic Sicily is, and how it is the best place in the world, the best food in the world, and how it has the best people in the world.

Now, allowing for the fact that with their sexy accents I would happily listen to them recite the phone book, front to back, all day long, I was always delighted to hear them wax lyrical about the little island at the toe of the boot.
"Cor-eeen-ahhh, you weel loff eet"

But just as Americans get passionately patriotic over the stars and bars, I assumed my Italians were just attaching an equal patriotic fervor to their fashion, their food and their Sicily. I knew I'd love the place, but had no idea how hard I would absolutely fall in love with it.
And how my Italiani have laughed at me over that one.

Forza d'Agro', Sicily

Anyway, one of the fabulous little places I found by accident while in Sicily, was the lovely little Forza D'Agro'.
Situated on the coast between Taormina and Messina, Forza D'Agro' is not typically found in tourist books. (which generally means I'm going to love it).

starting the day with cappuccino at Il Girasole

I only found out about it because a couple of locals were helping me plan out my day over toes-in-the-sand breakfast cappuccino.

They totally shanghai'd everything I was planning on doing, and instead came up with all kinds of fantastic places to go see, experience and eat at. (remember, Sicilians are incredibly warm, fun loving, friendly people). And they love to give you the inside scoop on the best local places to hit. No doubt owned by family members, but you are welcomed with open arms, and I adore that.

The drive along the coast from Taormina/Mazzeo/Letojanni to Forza d'Agro' is gorgeous and easy. Which is just great because the drive up the hill is like the drive up the hill to Ravello. On acid. Super steep hairpin bends that double back on themselves, perfect if you're fearless and if you're driving a stick shift. By the time you've reached the top you have earned a robust glass of local Sicilian wine.

The Ionian from Forza d'Agro', Sicily

With ancient buildings and stone paved lanes that are impassable by car, this little town has become the backdrop for many movies over the years, in fact you'll recognize parts of Forza d'Agro' from The Godfather.
Cathedral Forza d'Agro'

This entire area has such a rich and wild history, from the Sicani to the Siculi, the Greeks to the Romans, The Byzantines to the Spanish and however many others along the way, so many have come and conquered and left their mark, creating a society and a land that is just completely intriguing and complex.

Forza d'Agro' Sicily

Forza d'Agro' Sicily

As you can see we got all kinds of weather that day. It started out gorgeous, some rain came through briefly, and then the sun came back out.
Forza d'Agro' is tiny and doesn't take much time to have a good look around. There are so many lovely little towns all the way along the coast to stop and visit, all with staggering views across the Ionian Sea, amazing little local eateries, artisan stores and plenty of interesting things to see and do, most of them far from the madding crowds.

Ciao from the top of the world. Well the top of the path anyway ;)