Al Pacino and Keaton learn of the Dons shooting whilst watching The Bells of St Mary’s at the Radio City Music Hall.
Part of the 100€ taxi ride
Like many Sicilian villages Farza di Agro is set at the top of a hill. The taxi driver pulled up in the what I would say to be the main square and it gave me the chance to get myself together, as this was my second location visited and the evening before taking was beginning to take its toll, with the winding streets on the way up reminded me of travelling along the Amalfi coast!
It seemed like the town knew strangers were afoot and showed its gratitude in welcoming us, with a hymn that was broadcasted through the towns antenna system. I assume it was for us as the square seemed to be derelict at that specific time, and no one else was in the square other than friends and the taxi driver! This somewhat reminded me of “The Prisoner”, I’m guessing due to the sense that we seemed to be watched along with the antenna system. The whole experience blew me away, I felt privileged to have been able to see the village, which was quaint and quiet unlike the touristy town of Taormina.
My first port of call was to shoot the Maria Santa Annunziata Church, where on screen of the The Godfather part II you would find the the young Vincent Andollione escaping past the church front in a basket on a donkey. Maria Santa Annunziata Church is also used in The Godfather part I, when Michael goes to Bar Vittelli, he passes the church and also during The Godfather part III when Al Pacino reminisces with Diane.
Part of the €100 taxi ride.
After finding the Maria Santa Annunziata Church, I pursued a group of locals who seemed to be chatting like there was no tomorrow, whilst showing them my pictures of the doorway and asking them if the doorway from the Godfather movie was shot within Forza di Agro, and still standing upright! The paperwork was taken from my hands and they took over the conversation in what seemed to me to be a heated debate between the locals and in the mix of waving arms, raised voices and thoughout the discussion a lot of pointing! In fact it was just like watching the scarecrow from Wizard of Oz.
After 10 minutes of standing pretty much like when you’re at a wedding of a distant relative or friend, the discussion concluded when a local older gentleman took the lead, and showed the way into the narrow streets of the heart of the Forza Di Agro and well into the local community. After 5 minutes he led me into a serial environment the narrowing streets with echoed conversations, but no one around.
The gentleman man pointed at the doorway to Vito Andolini’s House. With a heartfelt “grazie” and a much appreciated exchange of a couple of Euros, the man smiled, tipped the front of his cap and strolled back down the cobble stone street towards the centre.
6th Street on the East side between Avenues A and B
Was transformed during the filming of the Godfather II, this was to replicate Little Italy, in 1800’s.
Mulberry Street Bar, 176 1/2 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013
The bar didn’t stop serving throughout the flight from the UK, having been monitored how much alcohol was consumed by one of the stewards! He did this by ‘catching the ring off the string!’ At first I caught the ring no problem, but as we progressed over the Atlantic the ring became a bit of a challenge! Having landed at JFK I caught a taxi to Manhattan I don’t know why myself and my friends didn’t go straight to the hotel which was on the lower east side, we walked to Grand Central and arrived at The Oyster Bar which was the next stop. The alcohol seemed to flow and taste as sweet as ever and was made even sweeter when my colleagues boss called and asked where he was? He replied “I’m in New York!” The boss replied “oh!” The general consensus was then let’s get the beers in!
After a few hours we arrived at let’s say a well lived in hotel which was located on Little Italy, and just a block from the Mulberry Street bar which made way for so many movies. After finding my wallet that was precariously located underneath my suitcase on the bed, I felt so comfortable that I wanted to share it with the world and his dog, so I shouted as loud as I could “I LOVE NEW YORK” from my 5th floor window down on to Broome Street!
You see Andy Garcia and Sophia Coppola from Mulberry Street taking a look at their roots when looking across the street at their grandfathers Genco Olive Oil Company, which is actually the Metz building and situated on Mott Street. It has to be said the Mulberry Street Bar was undoubtedly my favourite watering hole whilst in Manhattan.
I got to the bar which also housed such films as The Pope of Greenwich Village, 9 1/2 Weeks, Godfather III and of course numerous episodes of the The Sopranos. However on a Friday evening it became a bohemian karaoke bar where myself and colleagues were singing Beatles tracks. Nipping outside I confronted the manager and asked if I could have an interview about the history of the bar? Yes he replied but tomorrow. My persistence didn’t pay off as he said it in that ‘don’t push your luck’ tone to his voice! I’m thinking at this uncomfortable point I’d better not push my luck here! In fact it’s the very luck that has got me into so many private locations prior to this meeting of the boss of one the most used bars in NYC. I did stroll into the bar the next day but I didn’t end up asking Toni for the interview!
The Mietz Building 128 Mott Street, Little Italy, New York, NY 10013
My hotel let’s just say had character and a tremendous amount of rustic charm, was situated in Lower Eastside ofManhattan and on Broome and Bowery which is a few blocks from little Italy. Genco Olive Oil is known as the Metz building and situated on Mott Street. It was once at the heart of Little Italy but now the Metz building is home to a Chinese and Asian supermarket.
The Edison Hotel 228 West 47th Street, btw. 8th & Broadway, New York 10036Tel: 212-840-5000
Having settled in for a relaxing stop off at the Rum House at the Edison, I got chatting to one of the service guys. He said that he was working at the hotel during the time of the filming of The Godfather, and said that where Luca got garrotted was actually shot in the Cafe Edison.
I didn’t make a reservation to enjoy this movie location, however you do need to take it upon yourself to hunt for the the legendary art decco style hallway that Luca Brasi walks through just before he meets his doom, as it’s situated just past the reception.
Bar Vitteli, Via Rina Savoca, Scicily
My hotel was situated on the beach in Taormina, a great location in the Summertime withviews of Etna to the West, unfortunately I was
in Sicily during March and Unfortunately couldn’t take advantage of the sea front location. After settling in to my accommodation I called a taxi to the town and spent the afternoon in the Wunderbar Caffe , the Caffe played host to celebrities such as Howard Agg, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Greta Garbo, Roger Peyrefitte, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton. Ever since D.H. Lawrence apparently wrote Lady Chatterly’s Lover the town has attracted a long list of actors, actresses, writers and artists, Tennessee Williams, Oscar Wilde, Cary Grant and Gregory Peck.
I also strolled around the greek ancient theatre which had the most tremendous views with mount etna overlooking. It also made way for a photo-shoot of an smartly dressed gentleman. Later I had dinner at the Mocambo Bar, the shoot continued at the grand piano that dominated the Bar. Chico Scimone was his name. Such a wise inspiring individual, who had time to share a few of his moments with me he actually completed marathons, triathlons and running up the steps of the empire state building until 2004.
When I got back home I watched a documentary about Frank Sinatra and I could have sworn I saw Chico on it? The la Repubblica wrote “Chico Scimone who repeatedly performed for Frank Castello and Willie Moretti, remember without being able to date precisely the fact that once Castello hired him for an unusual task. They organised a kind of audition where I had to accompany the singer on piano, the boy, tells Scimone, was Frank”. La Repubblica article
After exploring the town I headed to the taxi rank to flag a taxi and head back down to the sandy coast line back to the hotel, I became friendly with the local taxi driver who was the most talkative taxi driver I have ever met! My communication as always been taken from the universal language, my main methodology being facial expressions smiles and nodding of my head. Soon the driver became mine and my friends personal chauffeur throughout our stay in Sicily, in fact his number was on speed dial after he came to my rescue at 3am the pervious morning.
The 100€ taxi ride “as I liked to call it” embarked from my hotel in Taormina and ended at destination Bar Vitteli, the bar is situated in a small village named Savoca, Savoca is located on top of a hillside. In fact most of the villages that I saw seemed to always be sitting well above sea level, and to be honest not a great experience travelling the winding roads after drinking vino into the early hours the night before! Although travelling out of season and passengers are light on the ground compared to the summer time, credit was due to the taxi driver who was outstanding after asking me how long I wanted to stay at the location. I responded in that international language of expressions and a little help from my watch “30 minutes ok?”. “No problem” his response.
My gut feeling told me that the bar would be closed, lo and behold it was, although I was intrigued to get a
peak inside of this rustic charming bar, as it could be argued that Bar Vitteli could be the most famous bar ever to have graced the silver screen! The taxi driver took the lead and shouted to beckon the owner! A couple of minutes went by the driver asking me to wait! I said its ok, outside pictures are good, suddenly “a little lady in her winter warmers”, came walking down the street and to my astonishment opened the doors to reveal the original bottle top blinds which laced the doorway in The Godfather. My heart raced before entering the bar and meeting the owner Maria, it was just like meeting a dignitary.
She invited me and friends in and offered us drinks along with out of date Kit Kat’s my guess unsold stock from the previous season “that didn’t matter one bit, it was a wonderfulI experience” We all offered Maria a few Euros each and hopefully made it a worthwhile venture to open those doors. Next stop Forza Di Agro.