The attractive actuality of the “White Lotus” resort in Sicily

With luxurious baroque villas, unique gardens, dramatic landscapes, historical artwork and an alluring setting, Sicily looks like the proper setting for the second season of the darkish comedy collection White Lotus.

The award-winning collection follows the intricate, erotic and typically harmful adventures of super-rich holidaymakers staying on the stunning San Domenico Palace, a five-star cliff-top resort run by the 4 Seasons chain within the metropolis of Taormina.

As soon as a former 14th-century convent with distinctive views of Mount Etna and the coast, the resort is as a lot a star of the present as it’s a solid of Hollywood and Italian stars. And, in response to his real-life supervisor, Lorenzo Maraviglia, he matches his fictional counterpart.

“The precise resort setting is similar to what you see and really feel within the present,” he advised CNN Journey. “It is full of life, Sicilian, romantic and attractive with our superb company this yr together with Madonna and Sharon Stone.”

Created for HBO (which, like CNN, is a part of Warner Bros. Discovery), the collection is filmed in and round Taormina, Noto, Cefalù and Palermo, however the San Domenico Palace is on the coronary heart of the intrigue and sizzling ties which were growing lately. seven-episode season.

And whereas company looking for a White Lotus getaway might not have the identical expertise, Maraviglia insists her resort will at the least present the extent of service loved by the present’s characters.

“The success of the collection relies on the realities of what occurs in a luxurious resort; interactions between employees and company and between clients are very actual,” he says.

However “excessive conditions, corresponding to the 2 native luxurious escorts who come and go to entertain company, are a part of the drama and theatrics that add a spicy contact,” he provides, emphasizing that issues are likely to occur at a extra leisurely tempo – so long as he You realize.

“We might discover unusual actions if the state of affairs turns into apparent, however Taormina and our resort are locations the place such issues don’t usually occur. It is for households and honeymooners. Even when somebody might have an adventurous weekend week, we do not discover.

Guests to the San Domenico Palace will discover it precisely as depicted in The White Lotus. The connecting doorways between the residences actually exist. There are lush gardens for sundown drinks, stunning cloisters, a panoramic pool and terrace overlooking the bay the place company have breakfast, and a Michelin-starred restaurant the place the present’s characters typically combat.

Not that Sicily is alien to animation. The island has an historical Greek heritage of sexual freedom – a previous mirrored within the collection, with pagan statues and non secular frescoes that silently testify to the extravagant actions of rich guests.

saints and whores

The second season of “White Lotus” is filmed on the San Domenico Palace Resort in Sicily (Picture: Fabio Lovino/HBO)

Taormina is seen in all its glory: the imposing theater of historical Greece, the panoramic piazzetta, homes in pastel colours, elegant alleys lined with cafes and vivid boutiques, elegant eating places such because the Baronessa, the place the dinner scene with the couple is filmed to debate.

The resort’s finest suites, the place many of the present’s intercourse scenes happen, have swimming swimming pools and work of saints by the monks who as soon as lived there. “The decor, the rooms, every thing is authentic, what you see is actual, even the uniforms of the employees,” says Maraviglia.

Whereas Maraviglia did not must take care of among the weirder visitor requests that crop up on “The White Lotus,” he says he is needed to take care of extravagant visitor requests since San Domenico opened final yr as a part of the 4 Seasons chain.

“Some company wished to go to the Aeolian Islands by personal helicopter and constitution a yacht to Syracuse, which is an hour’s drive away,” she says.

Bodily, there are solely two actual deviations from actuality. The resort rises 400 meters above the rocky plateau of Taormina and has no entry to the ocean. The personal terrace of the close by La Cambusa fish restaurant in Giardini Naxos was used to movie the arrival at sea scenes.

And because the resort does not have a personal shoreline, at Unahotels Capotaormina, company can get pleasure from solar loungers and umbrellas at a seaside membership carved right into a reddish cliff framed by rocky arches and sea stacks, overlooking the tiny island of Isola Bella.

The islet, which additionally homes the “White Lotus”, is related to the coast by a slender strip of sand and is among the most stunning and common diving spots in Sicily because of its calm emerald waters. It’s a part of an archaeological park and has a home surrounded by unique vegetation that homes a botanical museum.

Many of the bathing and underwater scenes had been shot on a public seaside within the picturesque fishing village of Cefalù, between Taormina and Palermo.

The bay of Taormina witnessed an actual intrigue in 1955, when a Polish heiress was allegedly drowned by her husband in mysterious circumstances that had been supposedly associated to the inheritance.

Quarrels between {couples} in “White Lotus” are additionally a part of actual life. In 1967, an enraged Elizabeth Taylor apparently smashed a mandolin over Richard Burton’s head on the terrace of his house.

Potted vegetation and phalluses

A rugged previous: In-built a former 14th-century convent, the resort is a 5-star resort managed by luxurious model 4 Seasons. (Picture: San Domenico Palace, 4 Seasons)

There may be a variety of Sicilian custom in The White Lotus, with references to the island’s mafia connections.

A ceramic head sculpture of a bearded Moor is usually proven within the collection as an emblem of betrayal, a reference to a neighborhood legend relationship again to medieval occasions. It’s mentioned that the spouse of one of many Arab inhabitants of Sicily reduce off his head and used it as a houseplant.

“This story embodies the Sicilian essence of affection, ardour and revenge that’s represented in The White Lotus,” says Sonia Bonamassa, San Domenico Public Relations Coordinator. “She cuts off Moor as a result of she loves him, however he betrayed her.”

These “testa di moro” ceramic heads are utilized by the Sicilians at this time as vases, lamp stands, citrus fruit bowls and flower vases, or just to embellish rooms.

Mori are an emblem of Sicily’s Arab heritage. Different native souvenirs embrace colourful pottery within the form of pine cones, which Sicilians say deliver good luck.

“Director Mike White was extraordinarily open to those native issues, we performed with them and he integrated lots of our solutions into the present, corresponding to Italian songs, adapting his strategy to actuality,” says Maraviglia.

One tip that wasn’t adopted up, in all probability as a result of it was too excessive even for such an erotically charged present, was a neighborhood watering gap the actors dubbed the “penis bar.”

Bar Turrisi, within the picturesque medieval village of Castelmola close to Taormina, is filled with phallus-shaped objects. “Bottles, watches, glasses, every thing,” says Maraviglia. Even stairs and tiles have penises.

Hostess Giorgia Ponturo says the resort’s (actual) employees and crew repeatedly go to after a tough day’s capturing, and hopes the collection will draw vacationers to quieter, lesser-known locations in Taormina, corresponding to Castelmola.

“This bar dates again to 1947, was a brothel and homosexual hotspot,” says Ponturo. “The proprietor determined to undertake the phallic motif, which was an historical Greek image of efficiency and fertility, to affirm the masculinity of Sicilian males. It additionally brings good luck.”

Loopy events and luxurious residences

The resort supervisor says actual company can anticipate the identical degree of luxurious as on the present. (Picture: San Domenico Palace, 4 Seasons)

Some scenes had been shot within the Renaissance palace of Villa Tasca, which is definitely positioned within the city of Monreale, close to Palermo. Nestled in a lush parkland, it options beautiful frescoes and statues, king-size bedrooms and an unique pool/lagoon with contemporary spring water. Rented out for weddings and personal occasions, German composer Richard Wagner is alleged to have stayed right here whereas creating one in every of his masterpieces.

One other extravagant residence featured within the orgy scene of “The White Lotus” is Villa Elena, which is ready amongst olive groves close to Noto. It’s adorned with vintage tapestries and items of marble and has an enormous pool jutting out from the temple.

“White Lotus” is a homage to the “Godfather” mafia movies, the situation of the traditional stage – Castello degli Schiavi in ​​Fiumefreddo, a chic fortress with a cloister. This can be a personal property open for guided excursions and occasion bookings.

The present additionally showcases one of the best of Sicilian delicacies. Company swallow ricotta-filled cannoli, cassata biscuits, “gelato” and “arancini” rice balls. The characters repeatedly drink native rosé wine and martinis. Two {couples} spend the day wine-tasting on the Planet cantina on the slopes of Mount Etna, the place the fertile black soil of the volcano produces one of the best bottles, corresponding to Eruzione (“Eruption”).

For the reason that nineteenth century, Taormina has been a world VIP hotspot, identified for its wild events and sexual freedom relationship again to the times of pagan Greece, when homosexuality was the norm. The Anglo-Irish playwright Oscar Wilde was a frequent customer.

Taormina is alleged to have been the birthplace of D. H. Lawrence’s novel Woman Chatterley’s Lover. The creator and his spouse had been company on the San Domenico Palace within the early Twenties. Lawrence and a neighborhood donkey rider.

world highlight

Opposite to what occurs within the collection, company can not attain the resort by boat. (Picture: Fabio Lovino/HBO)

Locals hope that the worldwide promotion of Taormina in “The White Lotus” will entice much more vacationers to Sicily and enhance its enchantment as a Hollywood scene.

Giacomo Chillé of Uncover Messina journey company plans to arrange guided excursions of the present’s places. “Movie tourism has nice potential (cinematic tourism). We’re already taking People to ‘O Padrinho’ locations with tailored excursions,” he mentioned.

Not everyone seems to be pleased. Enzo Anastasi, proprietor of the La Canna resort on the secluded island of Filicudi within the Aeolian archipelago, fears that “Sicily might turn out to be the Disneyland of the wealthy.”

“These American collection promote and painting the peculiar super-rich and their great locations that aren’t the true and genuine soul of Sicily, the place traditions and easy existence survive,” he says.

Giuseppe Quattrocchi, proprietor of the restaurant Le Bistrot du Monde, believes the collection can be a godsend for tourism in Taormina, however says he did not like the best way Sicily was portrayed in some conditions.

“When three guests seek for their ancestors in a distant village and are rejected by supposed kinfolk, it’s the antithesis of our racial hospitality,” he says. “As well as, escorts and references to native legal organizations convey a detrimental picture.”

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