(CNN) — With its opulent Baroque villas, exotic gardens, dramatic landscapes, ancient art and enchanting atmosphere, Sicily seems like the perfect place for Season 2 of the dark comedy series The White Lotus.
The award-winning show follows a tangle of ultra-wealthy vacationers staying at the beautiful clifftop San Domenico Palace, a five-star Four Seasons resort in the town of Taormina, on an erotic and sometimes dangerous adventure. I am drawing.
A former 14th-century monastery with unique views of Mount Etna and the coastline, this hotel is as much the star of the show as its cast of Hollywood and Italian A-listers. And its real-life manager, Lorenzo Maraviglia, says it matches its fictional counterpart.
“The real vibe of the resort is very similar to what you see and feel in the series,” he told CNN Travel. It’s all about vibrant, romantic and sexy Sicily and this year’s amazing guests including Madonna and Sharon Stone.
Produced for HBO (which, like CNN, is part of Warner Bros. Discovery), the series is filmed around Taormina, Noto, Cefalù and Palermo, but Palazzo San Domenico is set over the course of a seven-episode season.
Guests looking for their own White Lotus Escape may not get the exact same risqué experience, but Maraviria says his hotel will at least offer the same level of service that the characters on the show enjoy. claims to provide
“The series’ success is based on the reality of what happens in luxury hotels. The interactions between staff and clients, and between clients, are very real,” he says.
But “extreme situations like two local escorts going back and forth to entertain guests are part of the drama and theatrics and add a spicy layer,” he adds, noting that things are generally claims to occur at a more moderate pace.
“As the situation unfolds, you may find that there are strange movements, but Taormina and our resorts are places where such things do not usually happen. It’s for. Someone may have a weekend adventure, but we won’t recognize it.”
Visitors to Palazzo San Domenico will find themselves drawn to the very “white lotus”. Connecting doors between suites do exist. There is a lush garden where you can enjoy a sunset drink, a beautiful cloister, a panoramic pool, a terrace overlooking the bay where guests can have breakfast, and a Michelin-starred restaurant where the characters of the show often quarrel.
Sicily is no stranger to Frisson. The island has an ancient Greek legacy of sexual freedom. The past is reflected in this series, with pagan statues and religious frescoes silently witnessing the extravagant activities of wealthy guests.
saint and prostitute
‘White Lotus’ Season 2 was filmed at the San Domenico Palace Hotel in Sicily.
Taormina has many attractive places. There are impressive ancient Greek theatres, panoramic squares, pastel-coloured residences, elegant alleyways lined with cafés and glossy boutiques, and chic restaurants like Baronessa, where a scene of a quarreling couple’s dinner was filmed. .
The hotel’s premier suite, where most of the show’s sex scenes take place, has a plunge pool and a painting of a saint made by a monk who once lived there.
“The decor, the rooms, everything is original. What you see is the real thing, and the uniforms of the staff are the same,” says Maraviglia.
Maraviglia may not have had to cater to quirky guest requests like those in “White Lotus,” but since San Domenico’s opening last year as part of the Four Seasons chain, it’s been making extravagant requests. had to deal with, he says.
“Some of our guests wanted to visit the Aeolian Islands by private helicopter and rent a yacht to Syracuse, which is just an hour’s drive away,” he says.
The only two shots that are physically far from reality are the beach scene and a shot of guests arriving by boat. The resort is at an altitude of 400 meters on top of Taormina’s high rocky plateau and has no access to the sea. A private deck at the nearby fish restaurant La Cambusa in Giardini Naxos was used to film the landing scene at sea.
And since the hotel doesn’t have its own coastline, the nearby UNAHOTELS Capotaormina Resort offers sun loungers and umbrellas at its beach club carved into the reddish cliffs surrounded by rock arches and sea stacks. and overlooks the small island of Isola Bella.
The islet, also featured in ‘White Lotus’, is connected to the shore by a narrow sandy beach and is one of Sicily’s most beautiful and popular snorkelling spots thanks to its calm emerald green waters. Part of an archaeological park with villas surrounded by exotic plants and a botanical museum.
Most of the bathing and underwater scenes were shot on the public beach of Cefalu, a picturesque fishing village between Taormina and Palermo.
In the bay of Taormina, a real-life conspiracy was witnessed in 1955 in which a Polish heiress was drowned by her husband.
The couple’s quarrel in “The White Lotus” is also real. In 1967, a furious Elizabeth Taylor hit Richard Burton’s head with a mandolin on the terrace of her suite.
flowerpot and phallus
The hotel building is a former monastery from the 14th century.
San Domenico Palace, Four Seasons
“The White Lotus” has a lot of Sicilian lore, along with references to the island’s mafia ties.
Pottery carvings of bearded Moorish heads are frequently shown in shows as symbols of betrayal, as tributes to local legends dating back to the Middle Ages. One of the Arab occupiers of Sicily is said to have had her head cut off and used as a flowerpot by a woman with whom she had an affair.
San Domenico Public Relations Coordinator Sonia Bonamassa said: “She loves the Moor so she beheads him, but he betrays her.”
These Testa di Moro ceramic heads are used today by Sicilians as vases, lampholders, citrus bowls, flowerpots or simply to decorate a room.
The forest symbolizes the Sicilian Arabian tradition. Other local memorabilia include pottery in the shape of colorful pine nuts, believed by Sicilians to bring good luck.
“Director Mike White was very receptive to these local things. We’ve adapted our approach to reality,” says Maraviria.
One tip that didn’t make the cut, perhaps because it was extreme even for such an erotic show, was the local watering hole, which the actor called a “penis bar.”
Bar Treesi in Castelmola, a picturesque medieval village near Taormina, is filled with objects shaped like phalluses. “Bottles, watches, cups, everything,” says Maraviglia. Stairs and floor tiles also have penises.
Waitress Giorgia Ponturo is a regular visitor to the (real) hotel staff and crew after a hard day of filming, and takes tourists to quiet, lesser-known locations around Taormina like Castelmola. hopes to attract
“This bar dates back to 1947. It used to be a brothel and gay hotspot,” says Ponturo. “Then the owner decided to adopt the phallus motif, the ancient Greek symbol of sexual potency and fertility, to reaffirm the masculinity of the Sicilian man. It also brings good luck. ”
Wild parties and gorgeous mansions
Hotel managers say guests in real life can expect the same level of luxury they’ve seen on the show.
San Domenico Palace, Four Seasons
Some scenes were actually shot in a Renaissance palace called Villa Tasca in the town of Monreale near Palermo. Set in a lush parkland, it features gorgeous frescoes and statues, king-size rooms and an exotic pond with fresh spring water. Rented for weddings and private events, the hotel is said to have stayed here when German composer Richard Wagner produced one of his masterpieces.
Another opulent mansion featured in an orgy scene in “The White Lotus” is Villa Elena, set in an olive grove near Noto. Adorned with old tapestries and marble, it has a huge pool jutting out from the temple.
‘White Lotus’ is an homage to the mafia movie ‘The Godfather’ and features the classic scene locations of Schiavi Castle, an elegant cloistered castle in Fiumefred. Private property that can be booked for guided tours and events.
The series also presents the best of Sicilian cuisine. Guests sip on ricotta-stuffed cannoli, cassata his cake, gelato, and arancini rice balls. Characters regularly drink local rosé and martinis. Two couples enjoy wine tasting at Planeta’s dining room on the slopes of Mount Etna. Here, the fertile black soil of the volcano yields top his bottles such as Elzione (“eruption”).
Since the 1800s, Taormina has been an international VIP hotspot famous for its wild parties and sexual liberties, reminiscent of pagan Greek times when homosexuality was the norm. Anglo-Irish playwright Oscar Wilde was one of his frequent visitors.
Taormina is said to have been the birthplace of DH Lawrence’s novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover. The author and his wife were guests at his Palace in San Domenico in the early 1920s, and the book seems to have been inspired by the relationship between Mrs. Lawrence and her local donkey rider.
Unlike the show, guests cannot actually reach the hotel by boat.
Locals hope that promoting Taormina globally with the “White Lotus” will draw more tourists to Sicily and increase its appeal as a Hollywood setting.
Discover Messina travel agent Giacomo Chillé plans guided tours to the series’ locations. “Cineturismo[movie-related tourism]has great potential. We are already taking Americans to ‘Godfather’ spots on customized trips,” he said.
Not everyone is happy. Enzo he Anastasi, owner of the Hotel Lacanna on the quaint Filicudi island of the Aeolian Islands, is concerned that he will “take Sicily to Disneyland for the rich.”
He said, “These American series promote and portray the ordinary ultra-rich and their glamorous places, not the real true soul of Sicily, where traditions and simple lifestyles survive.
Giuseppe Quattrocchi, owner of Taormina’s local restaurant Bistro du Monde, believes the series will be a godsend for tourism in Taormina, but doesn’t appreciate how Sicily is sometimes portrayed. said.
“When three guests go in search of their ancestors in a faraway village and are kicked out by supposed relatives, it’s the exact opposite of our innate hospitality,” he says. “Also, references to escorts and local criminal gangs paint a negative image.”