10 fascinating and evocative Sicilian villages to see at least once in your life
More or less known, here are the villages in which to spend unforgettable time between culinary specialties, scenic wonders and cultural excellences on the island.
For some years now, thanks to the space they are finding on social media and to their suggestive atmosphere, villages have risen to the forefront of national attention and tourism linked to these places is constantly expanding. Since Sicily offers plenty of them, we suggest you ten that could be you a dream holiday/trip destination out of town.
CASTROREALE (Messina). Located between the north-western Peloritani mountains, the village houses works of art like the ones of Antonello Gagini and comes alive especially in August with events such as the Castroreale Jazz, the Night Walk with music and tastings, and numerous festivals, including the one dedicated to the Castriciano biscuit. It ranked second in the “Il borgo dei borghi” competition in 2018.
CASTIGLIONE DI SICILIA (Catania). Located on the northern slope of Etna, right in the middle of the valley formed by the river Alcantara, it offers to those who love excursions the opportunity to make some inside the famous Alcantara Gorges and on the volcano itself. The Villadicanense Library and the typical Christmas markets also contribute to its charm. It ranked fifth in the “Il borgo dei borghi” competition in 2017.
ERICE (Trapani). It was built on top of the homonymous mountain full of woods and its toponymy refers to the mythological giant who had the courage to challenge Heracles, even succumbing. Famous for its sweets “di riposto”, whose recipe was handed down by the nuns of the cloistered convent of San Carlo, Erice abducts by the sinuosity of its streets.
GANGI (Palermo). Pearl of the Madonie mountains with Mount Etna in the background, it is characterized by an abundance of artistic and architectural heritage, ranging from the Middle Ages to the 1800s. Do not miss the festivities during the Carnival and the re-enactment of the life of St. Francis in October (every two years). The beauty of this place has been certified by the victory in the “Il borgo dei borghi” competition in 2014.
MONTALBANO ELICONA (Messina). A paradise for those who love naturalistic excursions, it stands out because here is the medieval castle that hosted Frederick II of Aragon. The link with the medieval period can also be rediscovered through the historical parade organized in August. The reason why it has been proclaimed “borgo dei borghi” in 2015 can be understood by having a look at an image of Malabotta Wood, which can be accessed right through the village.
SAMBUCA DI SICILIA (Agrigento). Even today it has a strong Arabian imprint, as evidenced by the fortress of Zabut, which takes its name from the Emir who built it. The artificial basin of the Arancio lake allows everyone to follow the numerous itineraries that wind around it. The Arab quarter is also the setting for cultural and musical activities that take place on the night of San Lorenzo. Sambuca di Sicilia won the “borgo dei borghi” competition in 2016.
CASTELMOLA (Messina): Overlooked by the Norman castle, this village near Taormina offers visitors the opportunity to visit a museum of medieval art and contemporary art, which is expanded every year through the donations of various artists spending time there. For those who appreciate the genre, Castelmola keeps alive the tradition of the Opera dei Pupi, while for those who would like to try new experiences we recommend the falconry shows, unique at national level.
FERLA (Syracuse). Situated at a few kilometers from Pantalica, with which it shares the particularity of the discovery of a prehistoric necropolis, this small village is undoubtedly the homeland of the black truffle, which can be tasted in the festival dedicated to it in July. Furthermore, after the 1693 earthquake reconstruction, the village is one of the greatest expressions of Sicilian Baroque.
SPERLINGA (Ena). Less than 1000 inhabitants live in this fascinating village characterized by caves carved into the rock, which are a sign of a very distant civilization that still survives today through these testimonies. Such a natural spectacle, combined with the presence of verdant woods, makes this place ideal for those who want to take a break from the daily routine.
PALAZZOLO ACREIDE (Syracuse). As good travelers, you cannot pass through this village without visiting the Museum of Travelers through Sicily, which retraces the old fashion of the Grand Tour with old reports and ancient maps. Then, in May, many young people from every part of Europe compete in the International Festival of Classical Theater, which is paired with the wonderful Greek Theater. If you are looking for some more particular places, the house of the anthropologist Antonino Uccello can be a valid alternative.
Article by Joshua Nicolosi translated into English by Eva Luna Mascolino