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Behind The Scenes: Where Was The White Lotus Season Two Filmed?

Written By Kayla Douglas

If you happened to be in Sicily in April, the talk of the island was a very special series being filmed at the illustrious San Domenico Palace, a Four Seasons Hotel.

Simultaneously this spring, our team was further north in Florence attending DUCO Italy, an annual travel trade show showcasing our Italian partners. Here, discussions of “did you hear where season two of The White Lotus was filmed?” were inescapable. After an appointment with the team from San Domenico Palace, Taormina, A Four Seasons Hotel – who was fresh off the set! – we knew we had to bring you behind the scenes of the series when the new season launched.

Peter Vitale / Four Seasons

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts fans are no stranger to its properties being featured in their favorite TV shows. As of late, we’ve spotted Emily in Paris during her stay at Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, a Four Seasons Hotel, Kendall Roy exiting The Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown in Succession, and enjoyed the entirety of season one of The White Lotus being filmed at Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea. But this fall, we’re exchanging piña coladas for negronis as we shift gears into la dolce vita while tuning into HBO’s 10-time Emmy-winning social satire.

With the exception of some signage swapping to show the fictional hospitality brand “The White Lotus,” viewers get a real sense of what it would look like to stay at San Domenico Palace, a Four Seasons Hotel. The set benefitted from the property’s incredible vantage point overlooking the Ionian Sea with Mount Etna and Teatro Antico di Taormina in the backdrop. During filming, the cast took over the property prior to its opening to other Four Seasons guests for the season.

Four Seasons

While the HBO cast and crew were met by the recently renovated interiors when filming season two of The White Lotus at San Domenico Palace, the property’s history dates actually back to 1896. Back then, the 14-century Dominican convent contained monks’ cells. Today, those have been converted into guest rooms within the “Ancient Convent Wing” which are now joined by the Grand Hotel Wing, which was added when Four Seasons transformed the property during a multimillion-dollar makeover.

The renovation project was spearheaded by powerhouse Italian women whose touches ensure an elegant guest experience for all who check in. Architect Valentina Pisani oversaw the entire renovation leading up to the summer 2021 opening of San Domenico Palace, Taormina, A Four Seasons Hotel. Pisani oversaw the design of all interiors, including guest rooms, the Bar & Chiostro featuring the Grand Cloister, Principe Cerami restaurant as well as the gym, the outdoor infinity pool and its poolside restaurant Anciovi. Her interiors respectfully blend with the historic features of the former convent turned hotel, bringing a contemporary elegance to the spaces.

Peter Vitale / Four Seasons

But with a property, this historic, one of the most critical challenges to its opening was the restoration of all the paintings, frescos, and statues, in addition to its columns, arcades, and vaulted ceilings. According to our friends at Four Seasons, all this had to be done under the superintendence of the local council, which fiercely protects Sicily’s artistic heritage. So, there was only one woman for the job: Rosaria Catania Cucchiara. For the San Domenico project, she headed up an all-female team of four art restoration specialists who’ve flawlessly imbued new life in these works, many of which viewers will see in the show.

We checked in with the property’s General Manager, Lorenzo Maraviglia, to learn more about how he and his team prepared for filming.

Peter Vitale / Four Seasons

SmartFlyer: Besides its stunning landscape, what do you think drew HBO to choose Sicily for this next season of The White Lotus?

…people here live deeply – which can of course lead to lots of drama. Taormina also has a glamorous legacy linked to film!

Lorenzo Maravigila: I think history and culture played a role, as did the Sicilian sense of passion and joy for life. You have a sense that people here live deeply – which can of course lead to lots of drama. Naturally, Taormina also has a long and glamorous legacy linked to film! Since the 1950s, the town has played host to an important film festival and the San Domenico hosted many celebrities including Liz Taylor and Richard Burton.

SF: We understand that The White Lotus season two was filmed at San Domenico Palace, Taormina, a Four Seasons Hotel in April 2022. How far in advance was your team planning for this project in collaboration with HBO?

LM: Not that long before, actually. As you know we only opened in July 2021, so we had a first site visit on October 1st to be exact and then finalized everything toward end of November 2021. With pre-production starting on February 1st 2022, there wasn’t that much time to prepare. It was all very efficient!

SF: What is the seasonality for Taormina? Around what time of year does the property open and close each year to Four Seasons guests?

Sicily has huge potential as a year-round destination – it has a very mild climate and so much history and nature to explore. You can even ski on the Etna!

LM: This year, we are closing at the end of November to reopen in March, but we plan to remain open until the beginning of January as of next year. Sicily has huge potential as a year-round destination – it has a very mild climate and so much history and nature to explore. You can even ski on the Etna! At the turn of the 19th century, Sicily was actually a beloved winter destination for Northern Europeans. Summer will always be the high season, but we do want to bring back the idea that Taormina can be enjoyed all year round.

Peter Vitale / Four Seasons

SF: We know the Four Seasons team pays meticulous attention to detail. How did preparing the property for the shoot parallel how you prepare for each guests’ arrival?

LM: It was no different – HBO, their cast, and crew were clients for us. Of course, we had some bespoke arrangements around meals for the team and our restaurants were not fully operational, but the rest was business as usual!

SF: What are you most excited for viewers of the show to see and learn about Taormina?

LM: I don’t think nearly enough people are aware of how beautiful Taormina and Sicily are and how much it has to offer. When people think of Italy, Sicily might not be top of mind and I think this show can really impact awareness for the destination in general – put it “on the map.”

Peter Vitale / Four Seasons

SF: How can future guests experience some of the magic that’s captured on screen during their future stay at San Domenico Palace?

LM: The hotel is magical, they should just come and experience it! The White Lotus will be great for generating awareness for property, but this is a hotel with over 125 years of history that has a life and soul that preexists all of us. Guests wander through the property in awe of the historical features and works of art and in awe as they take in the beauty and fragrance of our Italian gardens. Our dining outlets have a great vibe in addition to delicious food, and our infinity pool has already become iconic. Demand is hopping for next year so better book your stay fast!

Peter Vitale / Four Seasons

Ready to be a part of the magic? Contact your SmartFlyer travel advisor now to find your way onto this star-studded property.

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