Sicily is a magic place. If you have been already, get back to discover new things. But if you never roamed through the island try to do so as soon as possible! And I’m not just talking about the beautiful coastal area, but also about the inland, places like Alto Belice where you will find many charming villages, rich in landscapes, culture and food variety.
It’s almost like there were two Gibellina: the new one, built after the 1968 earthquake, and the old one, with the old historic centre, demolished and lifeless. The ancient town’s symbol is the Cretto, an artwork made by Italian artist Alberto Burri in the late 80s.
With his work, a layer of concrete – white in origin – over the town’s ruins, the artist wanted to stop in time, protect and cherish what was left of Gibelllina. All around the concrete blocks there is a huge countryside stretching over the hilltops and lying there in complete silence, with the green vegetation playing with wind and sun.
Only a poet would be able to tell by words what one experiences first hand while walking among what remains of this small town. All begun with the 1968 earthquake, but the final blows came from the lack of resources for rebuilding. The building are still collapsing, so you better don’t leave the main road.
We came here in June, when the warm light of the sun strikes the stones and the contrasts between the sky and the thousand shades of the old buildings create a dazzling feeling.
This small village of little more than 2000 inhabitants is in the province of Trapani. Its main feature is the ability to make tourists feel at home, beside surprising them with stunning traditions.
Here they don’t only embroider fabrics, but also bread! Yes, you read right: during the celebrations for Saint Joseph, on March 19, the locals decorate the holy altars with symbolic breads, which look and taste great.
Piana degli Albanesi
There are at least two good reasons to visit this place: the marvellous lake at the bottom of the hill, and the unforgettable cannoli – Sicily’s most popular pastries – still prepared according to their traditional recipe. One of the best places to fill up with them is Extra Bar-Pasticceria in Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, which has its own pastry kitchen.
This charming village is located at the bottom of a rocky mountain which the young guys have to climb when they want to proof they have become adults. Kind of a bravery test, but not so unappealing after all since on the peak there is a flourishing vegetation.
A walk through the village should never miss a stop at Namio’s bakery, another one in the Middle Age violin workshop and a quick trip to Beccadelli Castle, where a stunning sight over the landscape awaits you.
After all these inland villages, if you need a detour to the sea go for Bagheria, where you will taste brioche with ice-cream, have a walk along the corso (‘main road’) and visit the ancient bourgeois villas. Among the villas open to the public there is Villa Palagonia which is renown as the ‘villa of the monsters’ because of the many grotesque statues.