Sicily is one of the most famous places in the world and every year attracts a lot of tourists. Palermo, Cefalù, Syracuse, Taormina, Catania and more are for sure very popular, full of history, art and traditions. But there’s even another side of the island that not so many people know. Let’s discover on Sicilian Secrets’ blog the so-called unknown Sicily and a couple of nice towns off the map.
Have you ever been curious about unknown Sicily? Maybe you already visited the biggest cities or for sure the ones suggested by your travel guide. But if you want to put something special into your bucket list, go off the beaten path! Where? Here are three unmissable destinations!
Sclafani Bagni (Palermo)
Sclafani Bagni is one of the hidden gems of Sicily. It’s a very small village up in the mountains inside the Madonie Regional Natural Park and its history dates back to the 4th century B.C. This is the third smallest town of Sicily and once you get there, it’s like to go back to the past. You cannot avoid being enchanted by the remains of the medieval castle and by the beauty of the main church of Santa Maria Assunta that houses some precious paintings from the 16th and 17th centuries.
Unknown Sicily always has a surprise: the name ‘Bagni’ (Bath) is not casual. If you go to the countryside, you can find an old building that during the 19th century was a thermal station. The count of Sclafani wanted it in 1848 but year by year it was abandoned. Nowadays nobody goes there to enjoy some time at the spa, but since nature is stronger than everything, you can still dive (‘wildly’ and for free!) into a natural pool full of sulfurous hot water. It’s very healthy and relaxing, moreover it’s a place that almost nobody knows…so peaceful!
Poggioreale – whose name means the royal mound – is called the ‘ghost town’. Actually, this small village in the province of Trapani refuses to die. It was founded in 1642 but unfortunately everybody easily remembers the year in which a very bad earthquake totally destroyed it. It happened in 1968, this is the year in which the story of this ghost town really begins. For a matter of safety, local authorities decided to rebuild the city in a closer area, so nowadays all the remains are an evidence of the life before that day.
We can think about it like a sort of modern Pompeii or Chernobyl: in the school, for example, pupils’ scribblings are still on the chalkboard and a calendar on the wall marks the year: 1968. It’s a stunning scenario that visitors are more and more interested in exploring. It looks like a mysterious place, a real piece of unknown Sicily that attracted even some directors to film part of their movies. Watch The Star Maker (L’Uomo delle Stelle) by Giuseppe Tornatore and try to recognize the unique landscape of Poggioreale.
Sambuca di Sicilia (Agrigento)
In the recent years, Sambuca di Sicilia is becoming more and more popular. People are finally understanding the charm of this town in the province of Agrigento that in 2016 was celebrated as Borgo dei borghi, so the most beautiful village in Italy!
The old city was founded by the Arabs in the 9th century and nowadays there’s a lot to see. Monuments tell the story of this town going through many different periods, it’s a valuable collection of buildings, artworks, churches, etc. that you have to visit at least once in your life. And if you are interested in knowing something very peculiar, open your favorite search engine and type ‘1 euro houses for sale in Sambuca’…unbelievable.