Explore Gratteri, one of the most mysterious villages in the Madonie Mountains. This itinerary is for you if you’re looking to discover one of the most unique and oldest villages in Madonie, which is still a little-known. It will take you to Gratteri, a charming Sicilian village located in Palermo, about 16km from Cefalu.
This fascinating journey begins at the Belvedere Ganci Battglia. It is customary to take a photo of the Belvedere in order to capture a stunning view along the Tyrrhenian Coast. On clear days, one can also see the Aeolian Islands. Gratteri is often called the ” terrace of the Tyrrhenian“.
We’ll start by taking a pleasant walk from Ecce Homo bridge towards Portella Carruba. This is due to the existence of a carob tree mentioned in 1500s sources. You can view a picturesque scene similar to a crib, with lush pastures and in front the church of Convent of XII Century.
The entire valley will be visible in the distance. It is dominated by the Gulf of Termini. We will now move down to the historical environmental museum of the Municipality. It is located on a hill, from which you can view the remains of the oldest district. This was originally the Terra Vecchia, and today the Conigliera with its precipice walls over the ” Mouth Of Hell“.
We will walk through the narrow streets of the village until we reach the fountain de la Ninfa. It is located in a villa just before the Mother Church. Here we’ll find out the story behind that stone shell. This shell is similar to the one found in the nearby Grattara Grotto. This could be called the Genius Locid in the “cratered” village.
The parish church of St. The miraculous relics from Jerusalem as well as valuable artifacts from many eras are kept in the parish church of St. Michael the Archangel.
After having a refreshment, you can head to the church of San Giacomo Protector of Gratteri. This church houses the beautiful statue of St. Apostle, so revered by the Gratteresi.
The poet’s home and a typical stone structure for collecting rainwater are located in the same neighborhood. Moving towards the district Via Fiume from vicolo San Giacomo, you’ll see three medieval bridges, an underground cistern and the Fantina well. This was covered in the second period after the war to make it suitable for vehicles.
Actually, an underground stream, Crati still flows under Via Fiume today. It descends from Pizzo di Pilo and crosses the town, dividing it into two parts, one older than the other. It was named Via dei Saraceni in 1900.
You will find a circular house with one body in this area. It was recently renovated and still retains a portal with an arch. This is typical of the original Arab homes. This house, the last one with original architecture can today be called the ” Home of the Thousand Years“.
According to the reports of the Arab historians Bauijan, and Inb-Hawqal – later expanded by Amari – Gratteri along with Cefalu and Brucato were defeated by the Saracens in the year 835-838. They were able to enter Qratiris castle, also known as Hottirisch, via an ancient gateway. This is still called Dammuso and is certainly one of the most striking points of medieval Gratteri.
The Saracens quarter will be moved to the old Bucciria. Next, we will reach Santa and Petra neighborhoods, which were rebuilt recently thanks to ongoing research. Finally, we will reach the Clock Tower. This clock tower, with its ” 100″ chimes, is one of the most important symbols for locals. We will be looking out over the stream’s rocky bank to reveal the legend of Macigna.
After passing through the old quarters of Terra Vecchia, Nostra Donna and Porta Grande, you’ll arrive at the Vecchia Maatrice. This was built in the first half century. The ancient castle of Ventimiglia princes is next to XIV. The Madonna (and child) are located today on the main altar. They are both a product of the Gaginian school, and were taken from the Norman church the Rosary.
Two interesting memorials in mixed marbles are located in the ancient apse. They contain the remains of Maria Filangeri (wife of Lorenzo Ventimiglia) and Gaetano (prince of Belmonte).
You can still see the opening that was right against the wall, which connected directly to the rooms of Barons within the castle’s outskirts.
You should take a look at via Arcaria. This alley is hidden behind a stone drinking tube. It’s where you can find the prisons.
Our journey will take us to the ” Passo della Scala“, where the Via dei Promestratensi starts, and eventually reach the Norman abbey in San Giorgio. The landscape looks like a postcard from this viewpoint. The Carape Cliff is where you can see the history of the talismans of La Scala women and the Souls of Purgatory. You will also learn about the votive shrines that are still found in the small church of Crucifix. You will then find a new road that has been dug into the rock at end of twentieth century. It is called Parisea and it was inspired by a true story.
After touring the churches of San Sebastiano & Sant’Andrea we will end our intense itinerary at the Cloister of Municipality. This was once part of the Convent of Santa Maria di Gesu. It is one of the oldest churches of the country. You are invited to an unforgettable adventure in search of one of the most mysterious and beautiful villages of Madonie.
Text by Marco Fragale
Learn more on visitgratteri.com