…And Taormina-Giardini as Bagheria

vlcsnap-2013-01-03-22h48m39s161Pictured above the train station in Bagheria, Sicily. Except that it’s not. It’s actually the Taormina-Giardini train station, located well across the island. (I wrote about it in my piece on Taormina.) Take a look at the photo below, which I took in April of 2012, from a vantage point a few hundred feet back:

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Obviously the flooring has been updated since photo number one was taken. But why is the Taormina-Giardini station in that image disguised as Bagheria? Was it someone’s idea of a practical joke? Or perhaps an image from a similar but slightly askew universe?

The answer is that Taormina-Giardini was playing the role of Bagheria in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather Part III. In that much maligned sequel, the Corleones return to Sicily for an opera performance by Anthony, son of Michael. That takes place in Palermo’s vaunted Teatro Massimo, which isn’t far from Bagheria (and, presumably the fictional version of the town Corleone). Here are Michael (Al Pacino), Mary (Sophia Coppola), and Connie Corleone (Talia Shire) greeting Kay (Diane Keaton) after she arrives by train.

vlcsnap-2013-01-03-22h55m24s95That’s just setting the scene. (I want that poster by the way.) A few frames later, we get a look at Michael and Kay, one-time spouses reunited to support their son in his opera debut, as they walk (I believe) north on the platform. Note the clock to the right of Kay’s head, and the biglietteria to the left of Michael.

vlcsnap-2013-01-03-22h53m46s128We took a similar shot (below) the day we arrived. Had I known Godfather III shot a scene here, I might have striven for more accuracy. In any case, you can still see the biglietteria though it’s pretty far back. The clock is obscured by an arrivals and departures screen (also visible, with the ticket booth, in the earlier 2012 photo). Unless the station was altered for the film, which was released in 1990 but takes place in 1979, I’d say it’s in better shape today. In addition to the flooring, globe lamps now hang from the ceiling, the clock appears to be newer and retro-stylized, and the iron work and walls are painted with more contrast. (Although the film was photographed in a muted, dusty palate – nowhere close to matching the brilliance of the first two. In that and other ways.)

DSC01582As they walk toward the north end, Mary snaps a few photos while Al Neri, Michael’s valet and bodyguard played by Richard Bright, waits by the limo.

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I’m not sure if you can actually park there, and I didn’t get a good shot of that end. Here’s a long view looking toward where Neri’s car is, which I remember was where the restrooms were. Indeed, in the first photo, you can see a sign reading toelleta (toilets).

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I realized this station appeared in the film upon recently watching it (for the umpteenth time) over the holidays, and only after having traveled there of course. Who knew I’d get so much mileage out of Taormina? Now I can cross another Godfather location off my list. By the way, if you want to see the bar where the hit on Frank Pentangeli was attempted in Part II, it’s on Avenue B and 7th Street in New York:

pentangelli

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6 Responses to …And Taormina-Giardini as Bagheria

  1. Erik Christiansen says:

    So, I’m going to be in Sicily next month, and I’m looking for three locations from The Godfather Part II.

    1. Don Ciccio’s villa. It is featured in the beginning of the film, when Vito’s mother is killed, and Vito escapes. Then, later in the film, when an adult Vito returns to Sicily and kills Don Vito. And, no, it isn’t Casello degli Schiavi, Don Tommasino’s villa, where Michael hides and Apollonia is killed in the first film.

    2. The little country train station, at which Vito arrives with his family, and later leaves, after killing Don Ciccio.

    3. The olive oil mill/facility of Don Tommisino, where Micheal makes such a cute face while tasting an olive.

    Anybody?

    Erik
    ponzo@earthlink.net

  2. Erik Christiansen says:

    I found the train station. It’s the Motta Camastra ex stazione di Gole Alcantara. Still need the other two though.

    • Very cool, Erik. I’ll try to figure out the other locations as well.

      • lubiewa says:

        Any luck finding Don Ciccio’s Villa?  I’m in Taormina right now, and have a neighborhood near Catania that looks promising.  If nothing else, I’ll just drive up and down a few streets, looking to the north.Erik

      • Can’t determine that…I see you’ve asked on other boards, not sure why it hasn’t been located after all these years. Enjoy Taormina all the same!

  3. Erik says:

    Anything? Four weeks left.

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