The charm of the blue, the thrill of the sea, the sandy beaches and the rocky coasts with a thousand-colored seabed, have accompanied the history of Southern Europe and North Africa, but above all they contributed to writing it. The Mediterranean Sea, with its riches and its vastness has been, and continues to be, an important intercontinental hub.

Navigated by such different peoples, from Greece to Spain, from Egypt to Italy, a continuous exchange of cultures has influenced each of these countries, making our sea (Mare Nostrum as the ancient Romans called it) a stage in the history of Western civilization .
Sicily, due to its central position and therefore of passage, was the land of landing par excellence. Linguistic and cultural influences in general have planted deep roots, so much so that they have come down to the present day. From the ancient age, passing through the medieval and modern age, up to the contemporary age, every people and every domination have left their mark.

With the Greek colonization, Sicily became part of history, becoming, like Magna Graecia, an important center of culture (think of Archimedes) and art, especially in religious architecture. Cities such as Syracuse and Agrigento continue to preserve the treasures of this important historical period.
Subsequently, in Roman times, the island was exploited for its climate and its territory, becoming the so-called granary of Rome.

It was only in the Middle Ages that the so famous and still widespread influence of the Arab populations began, which left their mark with their buildings and their linguistic properties. Even today, many words of the Sicilian dialect (or, if you like, the dialects of the various municipalities) belong to the Arabic language.

Linguistic influences still alive today in the Sicilian dialect also date back to the modern age and were due to the presence of Spanish and French.

The history of Sicily is long, exciting and full of charm. But it is only thanks to the splendid sea that surrounds it, that this island today can be considered the cradle of a treasure of inestimable value: a 360 ° culture, born from the collaboration of different peoples over the ages and traditions, but all united from a single factor: having sailed on the Mediterranean.

Ragusa Ibla – UNESCO Heritage

Ragusa Ibla

Located in the extreme south of Italy, lively and cheerful, Ragusa is famous thanks to the historic district of IBLA, declared a UNESCO heritage site, for its beauty and originality.
The city was rebuilt after the earthquake of 1693, the architectural style is therefore mostly late-Baroque, but the signs of the Roman, Byzantine, Angevin and Aragonese dominations are still visible
Do not give up a pleasant walk through the alleys and streets of Ragusa Ibla. Among majestic churches such as the Cathedral of San Giorgio, patron saint of the city, and historic buildings, typical white stone houses and rocky paths that climb the hill that hosts it.
The traditional Iblean cuisine is a strong attraction for tourists. It is full of tasty recipes, both sweet and savory, many of which are based on ricotta.

Castello di MIlazzo

The monumental complex “Castello di Milazzo” (opening hours) was given to the Municipality of Milazzo by the State Property, Artistic – Historical – Archaeological branch (with the exception of the Ancient Cathedral owned by the City).

It has an area of ​​over 7 hectares and represents the largest fortified citadel in Sicily; 12,070 square meters are covered by buildings and stands out against the landscape of Milazzo at the top of the ancient “Borgo” taking the form of one of the most significant fortified complexes in Europe. The monumental complex bases the reasons for its location on the extraordinary strategic value of the Milazzo peninsula which extends towards the Aeolian Islands, guarding a natural bay which has always been one of the most important ports in Sicily. “The Fortified Citadel” is in fact one of the few examples of military architecture in which there are still defensive systems built over the course of about 10 centuries by those who ruled this territory. It should be emphasized that the site has not always had exclusively military values, having also been part of a medieval village, in the area between the Aragonese and Spanish Cinta.

After a short period under the Angevin domination, the Aragonese took over; under Alfonso il Magnanimo the castle was renovated and at the end of the 15th century, by the will of Ferdinand the Catholic, the “Cinta Aragonese” was built, which incorporates the Frederick’s structure. It is believed that in the first decades of the 1500s work began for the construction of the “Spanish Wall”, a structure that includes the old medieval town that had developed in this area over the centuries and which is partly visible in the excavations inside. . Between the 17th and 18th centuries, various civil buildings were present here such as the Palazzo dei Giurati located in front of the Old Cathedral.

In 1860, after Garibaldi’s conquest, the Bourbon army abandoned the garrison it had in the castle.

From 1880 to 1959 the structure was used as a prison. After a long period of neglect and neglect, between 1991 and 2002, and between 2008 and 2010, the complex has undergone two major restorations.

Giardini Naxos, the Second Colony in the Land of Sicily

Parco Archeologico Giardini Naxos

Capo Taormina to the north and Capo Schisò to the south are the natural borders that embrace the spectacular bay of Naxos.
The first Greek to land in Schisò, near the current tourist port, was Theocles in 735 BC. The myth tells that Neptune, god of the sea, enraged at having received the undercooked liver of a sacrifice as a gift, shattered the waves of the sea and hit the fragile boat, causing the shipwreck and the death of all the sailors.

Only Theocles was saved, who clinging to a wreck, pushed by the waves, landed on the beach. Enchanted by the beauty of those places, he decided to settel in Sicily. So it was that the first Greek colonists arrived from the homonymous island of Naxos in the Aegean Sea.
In this beautiful litus (from the Latin strip of land washed by the sea), between myths and legends, the Lido di Naxos is the best starting point for visiting Giardini Naxos.

Palazzolo Acreide and the Archaeological Park

Palazzolo Acreide e il parco archeologico

It is a large agricultural town in the center of the plateau of the same name enclosed between the deep valleys of the Anapo to the north-east and the Tellaro to the south-west. Built on the site of ancient Akrai, the current city originated in the early centuries of the late Middle Ages when it appeared with the name of “Placeolum” in the bull of Pope Alexander III in 1169.

It was always of feudal dominion. Half-destroyed by the earthquake of 1693, it was reborn on the ruins, partly preserving the ancient medieval road articulation with numerous multi-family courtyards. The eighteenth-century physiognomy of the town can be found in the notable manifestations of Baroque architecture.

Inside the archaeological park, dominating the Anapo valley is the Greek Theater which dates back to the second century. B.C. during the reign of Hieron II.

A narrow gallery gives the possibility to connect the quarry of the theater to the Bouleuterion. This modest-sized building was a meeting place for the Acrense Senate assemblies.

Behind the theater are the remains of the Temple of Aphrodite. To the south-east, the quarries called the Intagliata and the Intagliatella, initially used as stone quarries for the construction of the ancient Akrai, later became burial places. On the slope of the ancient city there are other quarries known as feral temples, places of veneration.

At the foot of the hill a series of bas-reliefs carved in limestone documents the cult of the acrensi towards the goddess Cybele or Magna Mater, recognizable by the tympanum, the Modio and the lions. The reliefs dating back to the mid-third century. B.C. also discovered by Baron Judica (in 1809)), there are 12 and in the local jargon they are called “Santoni”.

Carved on a wall that extends for about 30 meters, they are roughly made but witnesses of historical and religious value. The necropolis of the pine forest occupies the flat top of that district, and is visible from the panoramic road.

Bronte, the city “of pistachio”: the green gold

Bronte, la città

Northwest of the Etna volcano is the most famous city in the world for its pistachio production. The particular position of Bronte, halfway between the Etna Park and the Nebrodi Park, means that the territory has unique characteristics which, harmonized with each other, give rise to a fruit with an exceptional flavor.

Here, natural elements such as volcanic earth and mild temperatures are combined, which create the ideal conditions for the practice of ancient pistachio cultivation techniques handed down from father to son for generations.

Pistachio is the typical product par excellence of this city, it has a refined taste without equal, recognized internationally for its sweetness, its delicacy and its aroma. With more than three thousand hectares of specialized crops in the production of pistachio, Bronte has no competitors in the world!

There is also a theme party to praise this precious fruit: the pistachio festival which takes place in October and which brings thousands of people back to Bronte.

Pistachio is used in the kitchen in the preparation of desserts, or in the filling of cheeses, sometimes we find it sprinkled on dry pasta, or in a ninth ice cream, in spreads or in pesto.

The city of Bronte is also renowned for its churches including the Mother Church, S. Maria del Rosario, S. Giovanni, S. Vito, and its monuments such as the Nelson Castle, originally known as the Abbey of Santa Maria di Maniace .

It was donated by King Ferdinand of Bourbon to General Nelson for the contribution given by the English navy during the Neapolitan war, when the general was invested with the title of Duke of Bronte.

Caltagirone, the City of Ceramics

Caltagirone e le sue Ceramiche

Caltagirone is the city of ceramics par excellence and everything evokes this great art! The historic buildings, the streets, the Villa Comunale, the Staircase of S. Maria del Monte, the balconies and every corner are embellished with majolica, ornaments and ceramic works. The historic center of Caltagirone extends along two main arteries: Corso Vittorio Emanuele and Via Roma.

They house the most beautiful buildings and monuments of the city including: Palazzo Gravina, the Basilica of San Giacomo, Tondo Vecchio, Palazzo Ventimiglia, the Church of S. Francesco d’Assisi, the Church of S. Agata and many other beauties of the Sicilian baroque.

The town hall square is the crossing point of the two main streets and the Palazzo Senatorio overlooks it, now the Municipal Theater and seat of the Don Sturzo Gallery. A stone’s throw away is the Cathedral of San Giuliano and adjacent to it is a curious building called “the Capitaniale Court”, built on a single floor.

The symbol par excellence of the city is the staircase of S. Maria del Monte, with 142 lava steps decorated with beautiful polychrome majolica tiles, with floral and geometric designs.

It is tradition to light up the stairway at the end of July on the occasion of the feast of St. James, while in May it is decorated with floral decorations. Strolling through the streets of Caltagirone, you cannot fail to visit the artisan shops that offer ceramic and terracotta masterpieces. The statuettes of the Caltagirone nativity scenes are also made of terracotta, reflecting the history, customs, ways of being and feeling of the time in which they were created.

This tradition celebrated every year, between December and January, in the Christmas and Nativity scenes exhibition, offers visitors the opportunity to admire over 30 nativity scenes including: the biblical nativity scene, the animated nativity scene, the nativity scene with life-size statues, the Sicilian nativity scene , the nativity scene made with lego bricks and the one with fabric.

Caltanissetta: the province with most Castles

Caltanissetta: la provincia con più castelliCastello di Pietrarossa

The tangibility of the Arab-Norman dominations that have marked the history of Sicily can be relived by visiting “the province of castles” that is Caltanissetta which, with 9 castles located in strategic points to defend the territory, is the province that counts the largest number.

Starting from the South, from Gela, you will meet the Castle of Frederick II of Swabia, called Castelluccio “, built on a chalk hill to defend the city. To the west, take the SS 115, passing through the beautiful town of Manfria, you will reach the Falconara Castle, the only one in the Nissena province overlooking the sea.

Leaving the coast, about 25 km away is the Castle of Butera, in the town, even if it was originally part of the perimeter walls.

Proceed on the state road 190, up to Mazzarino where the imposing Castle known as U cannuni stands, due to the large cylindrical tower that characterizes it, similar to a cannon. In the Salomone district, in Mazzarino itself, there are the remains of the other fortress of the territory: the Castle of Garsuliato.

The capital, Caltanissetta, houses the remains of the Pietrarossa Castle. Its name derives from the characteristic color of the stone bricks with which the three towers were covered.

In Delia, on a limestone hill stands the so-called “Castellaccio”, as it was the scene of decisive historical events for Sicily, linked to the War of the Vespers, at the end of the 13th century.

Among the most fascinating, there is the impregnable Castle of Mussomeli, which is set in the limestone rock about 80 meters high.

On the banks of the southern Imera river, almost on the border with the Palermo area, only a few remains of the Resuttano Castle are visible. The manor, dating back to the Arab era, is known for having hosted Frederick II of Aragon during his journey from Palermo to Catania.

Ear of Dionysus and Greek Theater: ancient Greece in Syracuse

Orecchio di Dionisio - Siracusa

Go to the ancient city of Syracuse to visit the magnificent Greek Theater incredibly surviving to the present day despite having been built in the fifth century BC, over 2,500 years ago.

Even today the theater hosts the most important representations of the National Institute of Ancient Drama. The tragedies of Aeschylus, Euripides and Sophocles are just some of the masterpieces of ancient history that relive in the natural stage of the Greek Theater of Syracuse.

A short distance away you will find the legendary Ear of Dionysus: a natural cave dug into the quarry, 23 meters high, whose pointed shape resembles an ear. According to legend, it seems to have been a prison at the time of the tyrant Dionysus.

The extraordinary acoustics of the cave make it possible to clearly hear even the whispered words at the bottom of the cave! It is for this reason that the contents of the conversations of the prisoners who did not know they could even be heard outside the cave itself were discovered. Try it too!

Etna: the beating Heart of Sicily


Etna (Mungibeddu) is a Sicilian volcanic complex that originated in the Quaternary and is still active; with the various eruptions it has often threatened the different human communities that over time have settled around it.

It is an active volcano, often erupting, generally starting with a period of volcanic ash emission which is followed by an emission of magma that is quite fluid at the origin.

The longest eruption in historical memory is that of July 1614. It lasted ten years and covered 21 square kilometers of surface on the northern slope of the volcano. The flows originated at an altitude of 2550 meters and had the particular characteristic of falling in and then emerging much further downstream up to an altitude of 975 m a.s.l., however, above the inhabited centers. The emptying of the canals gave rise to a whole series of lava caves, which can be visited today, such as the Grotta del Gelo and the Grotta dei Lamponi.

In 1669 the best known and most destructive eruption took place, which destroyed Catania. The lava reached the Ursino Castle, which stood on a rocky outcrop stretched over the sea, and overcoming it created more than a kilometer of new land. The eruption was announced by a very strong roar and by an earthquake that destroyed the town of Nicolosi and damaged Trecastagni, Pedara, Mascalucia and Gravina. Then a huge crack opened starting from the summit area and, above Nicolosi, the emission of an enormous quantity of lava began. The gigantic lava front proceeded inexorably, burying several municipalities and heading towards the sea.

In 1928, in early November, the most destructive eruption of the 20th century began. It led, in a few days, to the destruction of the town of Mascali. The flow escaped from several lateral vents on the eastern side of the volcano and also threatened Sant’Alfio and Nunziata.

The eruption of April 5, 1971 began at an altitude of 3050 from a chasm from which the emission of pyroclastic products formed the current Southeast sub-terminal cone. The volcanological observatory and the Etna cableway were destroyed.

1983 is to be remembered not only for the duration of the eruption, 131 days, but also for the first attempt in the world to deviate by means of an explosive from the lava flow. The eruption was quite unpredictable, with numerous caves and emergence of fluid lava downstream, which caused fear for the towns of Ragalna, Belpasso and Nicolosi.

On 14 December 1991 the longest eruption of the twentieth century began (lasting 473 days), with the opening of an eruptive fracture at the base of the Southeast crater, at altitudes from 3100 m to 2400 m a.s.l. in the direction of the Valle del Bove. The extensive lava field covered the area known as the Trifoglietto and headed towards the Salto della Giumenta, which it passed on 25 December 1991 heading towards Val Calanna. The situation was deemed dangerous for the city of Zafferana Etnea and a concerted containment strategy was put in place between the Civil Protection and the Army Engineers. In twenty days a twenty meter high embankment was erected which, for two months, resisted the thrust of the lava front.

The technique of erecting barriers in the ground by means of uninterrupted work of large bulldozers and bucket excavators later proved effective in the attempt to rescue the Sapienza refuge during the 2001 eruption, and was the subject of study by teams international, including Japanese technicians. Everything proved effective in slowing down the lava flow, gaining time but once again not decisive in case of persistence of the eruptive event.

The raiders of the Navy were called who operated in the main channel, at an altitude of 2200 m, with plastic explosive charges (C4) and special hollow explosive charges to divert the lava flow and thus send it into the Bove valley bringing back about six months the position of the lava front. The operation succeeded perfectly, using a charge of C4 equal to 7 tons and 30 hollow charges, all detonated in very rapid succession.

The Etna Park was the first to be established in Sicily in March 1987.

To protect this unique natural environment and the extraordinary surrounding landscape, marked by the presence of man, the Etna Park has been divided into four areas. In zone “A”, 19,000 hectares, almost all publicly owned, there are no human settlements. It is the area of the great uncontaminated spaces, the kingdom of the great birds of prey including the golden eagle.

Zone “B”, 26,000 hectares, is partly made up of small private agricultural plots and is marked by splendid examples of ancient peasant houses, frugal shelters for animals, millstones, austere manor houses, a sign of an ancient human presence that continues throughout. Now. In addition to the areas of Park A and B, there is a pre-park area in areas “C” and “D”: 14,000 hectares, to also allow for any tourist settlements, always respecting the protection of the landscape and nature.

Nebrodi, the true Sicilian nature

Lago Maulazzo - Monti Nebrodi

It is the largest protected area on the island! 86,000 hectares of wonderful unspoiled nature. As many as 70 km of mountain range and abesque woods that represent 50% of the Sicilian vegetation.

It is located in the North-East, between the Tyrrhenian Sea and Mount Etna comprising a very varied territory, still to be discovered, rich in lakes, springs, and woods. Monte Soro, 1847 meters above sea level, is the highest peak of the Nebrodi.

On its north-eastern slopes lies the Maulazzo lake, of about 5 hectares, set in a beautiful beech forest. Lake Tre Arie and Lake Biviere are located at almost 1,500 meters above sea level. and boast a large plant and animal population.
They are in fact the destination of many varieties of waterfowl and passage during the migration season. You will be surrounded by unusual landscapes, which will amaze you by enchanting you.
The Nebrodi Regional Park is a destination for those who love to deeply slow down the pace of life and get lost in the paths that nature offers.

If you move to Maniace, after a visit to the Duchy of Nelson, continue for 7 km to Portella Segheria, to access the Sentiero delle Sorgenti on foot from the forest gate. One of the most spectacular is the Virgil Spring at an altitude of 1,300 meters, while the one with the most disturbing name is the Dead Man Valley Spring.

A great testimony of the Mesozoic era of the Earth are Le Rocche del Crasto: a vast rock formation of rare beauty consisting of crystalline gray and shiny rocks and white and pink dolomitic limestones, often with green and red shades, located close to the inhabited centers of Longi, San Marco d’Alunzio and Alcara Li Fusi.

During your excursion it is possible that hares, porcupines, foxes, weasels, eagles, griffins, horses, cows and goats grazing will keep you company! The panorama that can be admired from the reliefs and lakes of the Nebrodi Park is spectacular and has no equal in the world.

The Valley of the Temples

Valle dei Templi - Agrigento

UNESCO, in 1997, decided to include the archaeological area of Agrigento in the prestigious list of World Heritage Sites because: Agrigento still represents Greek culture today. Historically Akragas Agrigentum, this is the name of Agrigento from the Greek era, has been preserved in excellent condition up to our times, as evidenced by the Valley of the Temples.

The temples of this area, which rise between fields of almond trees and flowers, are of Doric style and built starting from the fifth century BC with calcareous tuff found on site. The best preserved (practically intact) is the Temple of Concordia which owes its name to a Latin inscription found near the Temple itself. Also fascinating are the Temples of Heracles (Hercules) which is the oldest and that of Olympian Zeus (Jupiter) with its telamons, huge statues with human features.

Then there are the Temple of Juno, of Castor and Pollux, of Vulcan and of Aesculapius. The temples are all facing east so that the statue depicting the deity inside the temple was irradiated by the rising sun in the morning. To these must be added the Tomb of Theron, erected to commemorate the fallen of the Second Punic War.

Place: Province of Agrigento

The treasure of the Zisa in Palermo

Il tesoro della Zisa a Palermo

If you go to Palermo do not miss two beautiful Arab-Norman structures: the Zisa castle and the Cuba. Of course, the splendor is not that of the years in which they arose, but with a little imagination everything seems more beautiful.

The history of the Muslims in Sicily officially began in 827 with the fall of the Byzantines and the conquest of Mazara (even if they had already raided Lampedusa a few years earlier). With the entry into Sicily of my beautiful Count Roger (I have a weakness for him, I admit), in 1091 the Saracens were expelled. The Arabs actually continued to support the Normans and then the Swabians until the thirteenth century, there was a relationship of collaboration between the two populations, indeed, at that time, art, science and literature blossomed in the Norman courts. During the Saracen period a lot of legends arose and I will tell you many of these.

Today we talk about the Zisa castle and its little devils.

The legend was born in Lebanon, when the son of the sultan, Azel Comel, a beautiful man of great charm, more beautiful than the sun, with big, deep and black eyes who had the virtue of bewitching all women with his gaze, fell in love with a beautiful girl, daughter of the Emir, named El-Aziz. Azel Comel immediately wanted to marry El-Aziz, but the sultan opposed the wedding. At that point Azel Comel took the right to take possession of his father’s treasures composed of very precious gems and lots of gold, and sailed secretly on a ship together with El-Aziz. They traveled for a long time until they arrived in Palermo where the air smelled of love, flowers and sweet songs could be heard. It was here that Azel Comel brought the best workers and artists from all Arab and Sicilian countries who would build the castle for El Aziz. In the basement of this great palace they hid the sultan’s treasure and cast a spell to ensure that it was never found. One day a traveling bird dropped a note from its beak that landed on El-Aziz’s head where it was written that his mother was committing suicide for the penalty her daughter had given her by leaving Libya. Read the message El Aziz was seized by pain and wanted to reach her dead mother in the kingdom of the underworld. Azel Comel, seeing his dead wife, was seized by a fit of madness. He spent the nights and days running across seas and mountains, hungry and full of anger, tormented by pain, until the sea, good and generous, pitied by what had happened, gave him a sweet death. William I (the evil one) immediately took possession of the castle and gave it the name of the beautiful girl El Aziz (flower perfume): the Zisa. The castle was built directly by William I in 1175 and that no one could live there before because there was nothing but land. When it comes to legends, poignant loves and dreams, we don’t pay attention to dates.

And what happened to the infamous treasure ???? It is still there, no one has ever managed to catch it.

The keepers appear to be devils who prevent Christians from getting hold of them. The legend says that whoever goes to look at them on March 25, the day of the Annunciation, and stares at them for a long time sees that these devils move their tails, twist their mouths; and no one is able to count their exact number. Whoever finds out the exact number will find the treasure

Place: Palermo

Discovering Pantelleria

Hundreds of thousands of years ago, the great explosion in the heart of the Mediterranean brings out the top of an underwater volcano. Thus emerges, with violence, with arrogance, Pantelleria, a brown and fiery island, born from the sea, from magma, from incandescent lava. The successive volcanic eruptions and the implosion phenomena, the collapses of the lava and its own constructions, the so-called “calderic collapses”, determined the current appearance of the island full of hills and mountains formed by minor craters – cuddie- and which sometimes they retain the appearance of volcanic vents such as Mount Gibele, cuddia Mida, cuddia Rossa, cuddia Bruciata.

The eruptions. Although the latest eruptions, documented by the chronicle of the time, date back to 1831 and 1891, still today the volcano makes its presence felt on the island. In fact, secondary volcanic phenomena continue throughout the territory: the fumaroles or jets of water vapor that reaches very high temperatures, visible on the slopes of the Montagna Grande, on the shores of the lake. The most important is the so-called Favara Grande used by the islanders as a source of water. to water the cattle. The fumaroles inside caves called stoves are considered real saunas such as the “Dry bath” in Sibà or the Khazèn stove. And again the springs of hot thermal waters that enter the sea in different points of the coast: in the Grotta di Satana, in Scauri, in Gadir, in the Cala di Nicà and along the shores of the beautiful Lake of Venus whose waters are fed by underground springs they are rich in soda. The lake of Venus or Bagno dell’Acqua, with its mud rich in mineral substances, is a vast oval-shaped depression – the major axis is about 600 meters – and offers one of the most fascinating views of the island, especially if seen. from above, from Bugéber, the district overlooking the lake from the south side.

The vegetation Pantelleria, black of lava stone and obsidian, yet a green island for its rich vegetation. The incredible woods of the Montagna Grande (800 mt.): Pines, oaks and tall trees that reach even over six meters in height at the top of the mountain. The Mediterranean scrub, present throughout the island, alternates with wild olive trees, blueberries, rosemary, prickly pears and the great variety of flowers that, in spring and autumn, dress the island with the most lively and brilliant. It is difficult to think of this land so surprising that, together with its coasts burning for the sun and the African climate, it offers, at a short distance, the coolness of the woods and landscapes that would be called alpine, mountain paths that penetrate the dense intertwining of trees and plants where, in the right season, you can also have fun collecting different types of mushrooms. Island in the green countryside, island of peasants. The inhabitants of Pantelleria look to the land rather than to the sea and to the land they entrust their hopes; they cultivate it with the terracing system, delimiting the land cultivated with vineyards and caper groves with dry stone walls. The most famous grape that is grown is the Zibibbo from which raisins are produced, wines of various types – white and red – and, above all, the prized Moscato Passito today protected by the Denomination of Controlled Origin. As for the cultivation of the caper, that of Pantelleria is considered by experts to be of superior quality if not the best in the world. And what a spectacle, especially at dawn, a field of flowering capers that impregnates the air with its strong and penetrating perfume.
And in the countryside, in the pretty inland districts with suggestive names of Arab origin that evoke African atmospheres: Khaddiuggia, Margana, Mursia, Satana, Nikà, Rekhali, Muègen, Tracino, Khamma, Gadir, Kharuia and others, here, the peasants of Pantelleria have built their house, the Dammuso.

Customs and traditions. Typical island construction, the dammuso has a square or rectangular plan with walls made of dry lava stone and the domed roof made waterproof and whitewashed today with lime. There are as many domes as there are rooms that make up the dammuso. Inside, the roofs are vaulted, cross or royal, and the typical housing structure consists of the central hall, the bedroom or alcove and a dressing room. The floors in the oldest dammusi are in terracotta bricks or in hand-decorated polychrome majolica. The function of the domed roof is above all to ensure that the rainwater is channeled and directed to finally collect in the cistern which is usually dug underground under the terrace (passiaturi) of access to the dammuso. The dammusi with their blinding white domes contribute to making the Pantelleria landscape singular and unique. Often it happens to see in the vicinity of the dammuso a sort of tower, low, circular, built with dry stone, from the top of which you can barely glimpse the branches of one or more trees. You would never think you are in front of a garden. Yet it is so. The Pantelleria garden is protected by this wall which protects the fruit trees, oranges and lemons from the winds, and which encloses a small paradise of colors and scents like a treasure in a casket.

The island and its wonders. Pantelleria, a blue island, with a splendid and transparent sea that appropriates all shades and shades of blue, from the clearest and most crystalline to the most intense and deep shades. Everywhere along the jagged and rocky coasts, low, steep or very high, designed by the whim of the lava that has solidified on the shores of the sea, you can observe the extraordinary contrast of colors: blue, black, green, white. Taking off from the port of Pantelleria center and heading to the right, you reach the Bue Marino with flat banks accessible on one side and high banks overlooking the sea on the other. Continue, past Punta Khariuscia and Cala Campobello, towards the beautiful Cala Cinque Denti, close to the Scirocco winds, so called for its particular jagged coast, to finally see the Punta Spadillo lighthouse. After the delightful Cala Gadir, Punta Tracino and the Faraglione divide Cala Tramontana from Cala Levante. From here you can enjoy the surprising panorama of Punta dell’Arco otherwise known as the Ark of the Elephant since the rock that extends towards the sea forming an arch recalls the head of an elephant that plunges its trunk into the water, standing out, huge and black, against the blue background of the sky and the sea, often beaten by the white foam of the waves. The area called “Dietro Isola” is of an exciting beauty: the Faraglione known as the “Ficodindia” because in its upper part prickly pear plants still grow. Balata dei Turchi, where pirates and marauders of the sea used to land, the very high rocks – up to about 280 meters – overlooking the sea of the high ground of Salta la Vecchia. Going up towards the port of Pantelleria-center you will find the Nicà inlet, Scauri with its port, Punta Tre Pietre, Punta Fram where the brown lava rocks take on the strangest shapes so as to seem sculptures that are the fruit of an artist’s imagination.

Pantelleria, an ancient island. His land has known in the footsteps of the Phoenicians, the Romans, the Vandals, the Byzantines, the Arabs, the Normans who were responsible for the construction of the Castle called “Barbaca¬ne”, symbol of the island, which overlooks the port, built probably on a Byzantine fortification, and subsequently enlarged and modified by the Spaniards in the 16th century. The first people to inhabit Pantelleria was the so-called Sesi people whose settlement on the island dates back to about 5,000 years ago in the Neolithic era. The origin and provenance of the Neolithic people is obscure, it is certain that they settled in the area between the towns of Mursia and Cimillia as revealed by the important archaeological remains of the urban agglomeration – the city of the living – and the necropolis of Sesi – the city of the dead-. Traces of the houses or huts remain of the Neolithic village, inside which ceramics, pottery and the remains of tools and objects made of obsidian, the black volcanic stone, have been found. An imposing wall, the so-called High Wall built with large stone blocks, about 210 meters long and 8 high, of which the remains are visible, separated the village from the City of the Dead. The Sesi are elliptical funerary monuments with numerous entrances and structured inside in long corridors or galleries and cells of different sizes. The most important and the most imposing for its dimensions is the Sese Grande or otherwise called “Sese del Re”, certainly destined for the dominant and most powerful family of the village. Pantelleria, an island with a sweet and wild landscape, harsh and inviting, an island full of contrasts, génerosa of strong emotions, solitary and seductive.

Luogo: Province of Trapani

Erice, where time seems to have stopped


Erice stands on the top of Monte San Giuliano (751 m a.s.l.) and dominates Trapani, the panoramic capital from above.
It is originally intended to be populated by the Elimi (around 10th century BC), even founded by the mythical Erice, son of Venus and Bute, who became king of that ancient population of the mountain that settled up to nearby Segesta. The Cyclopean walls, perhaps Elymus Punic, date back to this period. The strategic position was one of the main causes of the attractiveness of the site, which has led to invasions and destruction since ancient times in the succession of peoples: from the Phoenicians, to the Greeks, to the Romans.

The cult of Astarte, alive since prehistoric times on Mount Erice, suggests the oriental influence that has touched this land, an influence that arrived with the people from Asia Minor. The goddess of fecundity, love and beauty, later identified with the Toruc of the Phoenicians, with the Greek Aphrodite and then with the Roman Venus Ericina, still makes magical the places frequented by her devotees. Famous was the enclosure of the temple which still exists today and which later, in the Norman age, became the seat of the governor Bajulo: it is no coincidence that the beautiful garden on the summit is called “del Balio”. Under the Norman domination the ruins of the temple were fortified and what we can still admire today is the Castle of Venus, adjacent to the gardens, dominated by medieval towers.
The Elimi built the temple but did not inhabit the mountain. The Temple acted as a guide to sailors both for the position overlooking the sea and the valley towards Trapani and for the fire which, always burning in the place consecrated to the goddess, was a point of reference for all those who went to sea, committed to plowing the waters of the Egadi archipelago, a beacon of mystical light and a guide in the adversity of time. The goddess, believed to be the protector of sailors, was revered by all the peoples of the Mediterranean. The anagogies and catagogies, the propitiatory feasts during which the goddess and her priestesses were celebrated, lasted until the 15th century AD. C., when the Church operates a cultic “transposition”: the image of Mary is substituted for that of the Goddess who continues to maintain the same appearance and the same date of celebration of the rite.
Destroyed in 260 a. C. at the hands of the Carthaginians who deport the inhabitants to Trapani, Erice becomes the seat of a Roman garrison until under another name Gebel Hamed, it reappears under the Arabs.
It will be under the Normans that the urban layout will take shape that will give it the magical aspect that Erice still maintains today. Next to the Cyclopean Walls, which protect the north-western side, in Erice there is the Norman Castle of Venus, the mother church of 1314 dedicated to the Virgin of the Assumption, which eclectically preserves the original Gothic forms together with the detached bell tower, born as a tower of lookout, with typical fourteenth-century mullioned windows, and the portico in front of four ogival arches of the fifteenth century. The dominations that will follow one another in the following centuries will enrich it with houses, churches and palaces, which will give new life to the town.
The medieval urban plan that has come to us almost intact, reveals the needs of a population that had to live on a restricted territory, triangular in shape and with considerable differences in height. But this has not deprived Erice of those beautiful architectures that frame its profile, of the enchanting winding and narrow streets, paved in squares like the flowery courtyards, reachable through archivolts. A whole harmonized by the chromatic uniqueness of the local stone. The access gates to the city, Porta Trapani, Porta Spada and Porta Carmine still today seem to fulfill the role of sentinels at the entrance to the city.

Erice from its past not only preserves the urban layout and the intra moenia architecture. Its territory preserves the agricultural productive architectural structures that have marked strong economies, the bagli. Alongside this heritage made up of history, architecture and archaeological sites, Erice preserves traditions that have come from afar. An entirely feminine knowledge, hesitated on the loom, with the typical lozenge motifs, are the carpets, which differ from those made in other centers of the island. Yesterday used for the needs of the earth, today appreciated as practical and cheerful souvenirs. The beautiful colors of these handicraft products compete with the colors of the decorations of the local pottery, which draws from the ancient kilns and workshops the mastery of making clay a work of art. Among the cultural assets of particular importance that we can see on this peak are: the Cordici Museum; the Ettore Majorana Scientific Culture Center commissioned by the scientist Antonino Zichichi; the Mother Church, inside which today is a hybrid Gothic style due to the renovations of 1865, there are handcrafted testimonies of pictorial and sculptural art attributed to well-known Sicilian artists such as Laurana or Mancino. But still over sixty ancient and valuable churches, including those dedicated to San Giuliano, San Giovanni Battista, San Martino, San Orsola or Addolorata, seat of the “Mysteries” groups, San Cataldo and the Chiesa del Carmine adjacent to the Military Palace, the aforementioned Castello di Venere which preserves evidence dating back to the VII – V century BC. C., of the cult temple on which it stands is located on a high cliff (it was accessed by means of a drawbridge as the Normans had made it impregnable). Ruins believed to be of the Templar construction are some drums of columns and fragments of Roman frames as well as various mosaic decorations of walls and floors. All around extend the Giardini del Balio, named after the Norman governor, Bajulo, who resided in the adjacent castle. Finally, the Medieval Towers constituted the outpost of the Castle of Venus connected by mighty curtain walls, rebuilt in the middle of the last century by the will of Count Pepoli, who also built the Torretta Pepoli, a mannerist construction in Moorish style.
Among the initiatives that have now become consolidated, which have become an annual event, we recall the Week dedicated to Medieval and Renaissance Music.

Even today, faith plays a leading role in the life of the Erice community. In fact, punctually, during the Holy Week, an ancient rite returns to make the streets of Erice a path of pain with the mystical procession of the Easter Mysteries whose origin is lost in the mists of time. An atmosphere of intense emotional involvement in the passion of Christ re-proposed with the intensity of a feeling that is profound faith, is participation in the event lived with the anxiety that the times that are given us to live give us.

Typical dessert: Genovese with cream, shortcrust pastry with icing sugar on the top (you can also taste the variant with ricotta) and “Mustaccioli”, ancient biscuits made in cloistered convents.

Luogo: Province of Trapani

Guglielmo the Good and  the Cathedral of Monreale

Duomo di Monreale

In ancient times it was said Who goes to Palermo and does not go to Monreale, goes there as a donkey and becomes an animal. I’m not sure which animal it could be, but, to avoid problems, I would make a trip to Monreale, “for yes or no”, after visiting Palermo. Let’s see what the story tells us …

When Roger II died, the kingdom passed to William I, known as the malo. On the death of William I was succeeded by his son William II known as the good. He was responsible for the construction of what, in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world, that of Monreale. Legend has it that William the Good was in Monreale for a hunting trip, at one point he fell asleep and fell asleep under a carob tree. While he was sleeping, Our Lady appeared to him and told him that a great treasure was hidden under the tree where he was. She invited him to dig and build a temple dedicated to her in that very place. The Madonna disappeared and Guglielmo woke up. He immediately told his subjects to uproot the carob and dig until they found something. After making a huge hole, the King found a treasure of disproportionate dimensions and immediately called the best engineers, architects, mosaicists, masons, carpenters, marble workers, cabinetmakers and so on and so forth, in order to build the Cathedral dedicated to the Madonna. a real wonder!

Place: Province of Palermo – Monreale

Ruggero II and the Cathedral of Cefalù

Cattedrale di Cefalù

In August 1129, Roger II left Salerno to return to Sicily. Suddenly, however, a mist began to descend from the sky. The fog gradually became thicker and thicker until the sky became full of clouds and a storm arose. The King and crew were terrified, they had never seen anything like it. Water came in from all sides, the interior of the ship was almost destroyed. The King prayed asking the Lord to save him from the storm. He prayed a lot. The ship, even if the storm did not allow any movement, continued to move forward as if someone were guiding and pushing it in order to save it. Like a movie scene, in the dark of the night a light appeared, it was the Lord who said: “Do not be afraid, I will be with you”. Roger promised the Lord that in the place where they would land he would build a temple to his glory. At that point he fell into a deep sleep. In the morning he woke up hearing the cheers of the crew. The ship had anchored in Cefalù. The following year Ruggero had a cathedral built, as promised to the Lord (actually they began in 1131, two years later, but this doesn’t interest us, as the legends are always right).

But let’s talk a little about the history of Sicily.

Roger II was a great king. It made the kingdom of Sicily one of the most powerful and best ordered states in Europe. In 1129 he created the first parliament in history. England had it only in 1264. There was the first “bureaucratic” state, that is to say based on officials and not on a feudal organization (vassals, valvassori and valvassini). There was the first “secular” state, independent from the church of Rome and above all it continued, as in the Arab period, to apply a spirit of religious and civil tolerance that in the rest of Europe will be recognized only in 1598 (that is, four centuries later ) with the edict of Nantes of Henry IV of France (even if a few decades earlier with Catherine de ‘Medici, with the edict of January, the Protestants had been allowed freedom of worship)

Place: Province of Palermo – Cefalù


Noto, the city of the Baroque


Town located on the slope of a hill in sight of a valley that extends up to the Ionian Sea. The area where Noto stands was the site of ancient human settlements. There are few sources on the origin of the ancient Neetum. was under the influence of Syracuse in the 5th century BC. In Roman times, it was a city of Latin law.
With the fall of the Western Roman Empire it suffered the successive invasions of the barbarians, the Byzantines and the Arabs, from which it was called Val di Noto, a name that it then kept extended to the whole valley, until the beginning of the 19th century. The new city was built in 1703, after the old Noto had been destroyed by the earthquake of 1693. It developed very rapidly thanks to the intense life of the agricultural economy of the area.
The project of the new city, provided by the scholar GB. Landolina Salonia, was built with an organic vision by the architects R. Gagliardi, A. Italia, GB. Giannola, G. Formenti and others, so that today the city is a concrete example of the urban-architectural ideals of Sicilian eighteenth-century culture.
The scenographic eighteenth-century building complexes among the most evocative of the island and the numerous steps and connecting streets of the different levels contribute to vary the thoughtful scheme. The tuff in which the whole city is cut, warm and chiaroscuro, is a further element of fusion of the urban landscape.


The remains of the 13th century castle. The Church of S. Domenico, from around 1727, almost certainly built on a project by IR. Gagliardi. Nearby is the former Dominican Convent with a grandiose ashlar portal from 1727. The former convent is now the seat of the Municipal Library with its 50,000 volumes. The Church and the Jesuit college always belonging to the Gagliardi family.
The Church of Carmine, also designed by Gagliardi, as well as the Church of S. Maria dell’Arco and the Church of S. Chiara, which has a Madonna by A. Gagini. The Church of S. Francesco (1745) which, with the rear side of the SS Salvatore complex, composes a beautiful eighteenth-century architecture scenario. The Monastery (1706), now a seminary.
The Duomo, finished in 1770, suffered the serious collapse of the dome on March 13, 1996 and the reconstruction and recovery work has been underway for years. Next to it is the nineteenth-century Palazzo Vescovile, opposite is the Palazzo Comunale, formerly Ducezio, from 1746. The eighteenth-century Church of S. Michele preserves a holy water stoup from the fifteenth century and a Gagini sculpture.
Among the buildings worthy of note are: Palazzo Nicolaci-Villadorata (1737¬-1760), Casa dei Crociferi (1730), Palazzo Astuto, i! Palazzo Canicarao and Palazzo Landolina. In Noto Alta there is the Church of SS. Crucifix, from the first half of! ’70O’ which contains a statue of the Madonna della Neve by F. Laurana (1471).

Place: Province of Siracusa – Noto

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