Sicily is an island where you can get lost in art cities, archaeological sites, amazing landscapes. And then, you can go from the peaks of Etna covered with snow to the blue waves of the sea, on the coast from which you can see some legendary archipelagos. You can enjoy the most hidden towns; they are small gems located in these unique corners of the world. Welcome to the villages in Sicily, so secret that you will want to reveal them to everyone!
Our journey, after we stopped in Erice and Sperlinga, continues towards Gangi and Sambuca. Let’s pack…gooo!
Let’s start our journey, welcome to Gangi
The first stop of our journey takes us to one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, precisely in Gangi in the province of Palermo. The history of this place begins in the Bronze Age, in the so-called ‘culture of Castelluccio’ and passes through mythology. Many people identify this town with Engyon, a Cretan colony known for the cult of many goddesses.
For many centuries Gangi has been the heart of the island, we can understand more and more through art and culture.
Any itinerary should include a stop at the Castle, built between the end of the 13th and the first decades of the 14th century by Enrico Ventimiglia. The most attentive observers will not miss the incredible resemblance to the castle of Castelbuono, not far from Cefalù. Moreover, do not miss Palazzo Sgadari, a nineteenth-century building that houses the Civic Museum, the Art gallery Gianbecchina and the Museum of weapons.
Are you looking for…a thrill? Go to the Cathedral of San Nicola di Bari in the main square of Gangi and ask for the crypt. They call it ‘fossa di parrini’ (the priests’ pit), here you can see the dried mummies of the priests who served in Gangi between 1725 and 1872.
What to taste
The villages in Sicily always keep culinary secrets. Do you want to delight the palate once you arrive in the village? In this period, exactly for the Feast of Saint Lucy on December 13th, many families prepare cuccìa with water and wheat.But here the real tidbit is another one. In Gangi, the tradition of making pasta and bread at home still survives, especially the ‘tagliarini’ (sliced and hand-made tagliatelle) and desserts like the ‘sfinci cca crema’, the ‘turrunetta’ (pastries with almond, flour and sugar), ‘l’istantanii’ (shortcrust pastries) and ‘amaretti’ (almond, sugar and egg pastries).The last treat? Taste ‘a cuddura patedda’ made with leavened bread and then fried, seasoned with sugar or salt. You will not regret it!
Sambuca di Sicilia, the mysterious village
Here we are now in one of the most fascinating villages in Sicily: Sambuca di Sicilia. We are in the province of Agrigento, in the Belice Valley and there are many curiosities around this place full of charm. The name has an Arab origin, the word Sambuca would in fact be attributable to Al Zabut, the legendary emir who built the castle. The city was founded by the Arabs around 830 and still today, in the historic center and in particular in the seven Saracen alleys known as ‘li setti vaneddi’, you can still breathe a unique atmosphere. However, Sambuca is a mix of architectures, from baroque churches to the eighteenth-century Palazzo Panitteri passing through the nineteenth-century palaces and the fortress of Mazzallakkar near Lake Arancio. Due to the water, it disappears and remains submerged for about 6 months a year.
Who is afraid of ghosts?
Do you like ghost stories? One of the most ‘terrifying’ villages in Sicily is Sambuca. Exploring the narrow streets of the Arab quarter, you come across the famous Via Fantasma. They say that Christians, sad for the extermination that took place during the Holy War fought by Frederick II against the Saracens, used to see a howling Saracen on full moon nights. To bless the area, they built the Chiesa del Rosario during the sixteenth century, this church still exists. It seems that some strange things happen sometimes…are you brave enough to get close?
Before leaving Sambuca, every visitor cannot fail to taste the local sweet specialty, the ‘minni di virgini’ (virgin breasts). According to the legend, they have been invented by a nun of the Collegio di Maria in 1725, they say that the inspiration came from the hilly landscape of the area. The ingredients? A dough filled with milk cream, chocolate and candied fruit, all finished with icing. Definitely tasty!