There is silence, thin air, and balconies full of flowers.
Each step is a surprise. Here’s a Palace Averna window with a mullioned glass, and there’s a courtyard with an old bench and a jar with climbing jasmine.
The stories of the people who live here and the houses they are built from tell the story of life.
According to historians, Petralia Soprana ( Palermo) is most likely the heir of the ancient Petra. Conquered By the Arabs, it was named Batraliah – from Batra meaning “stone” or liah meaning “high”. To honor Elijah, the Normans renamed it Petra Heliae.
The Madonie is at your heart and from the natural balcony, you can view Mount Etna in all of its glory.
Let’s go through it step-by-step.
Three viewpoints are available: One is from Loreto, u castru, which offers views of Etna and Enna. The other one, Carmine, u carmini, allows you to see the west side of Sicily towards Palermo. The last Piazza Duomo, orientated towards the east, looks at Gangi, and embraces Mount Etna.
U castru is located in the upper portion of the village. This area was probably used for fortifications built by the Romans and the Sicani. Piazza Loreto is home to the symmetrical facade of the Church of Santa Maria di Loreto and the majolica pispiers of this church. These spiers were a part of the Church of Santa Maria di Loreto . They are aggregated into the most well-known sanctuary of Santa Maria di Loreto (Le Marche), which was rebuilt in a late baroque Greek cross plan. The stunning marble altar by Giandomenico Gagini, which depicts four episodes from Jesus’s life, is a highlight inside the church. It also includes the wooden sculptures of Saints Cosmassa and Damian, both 16th-century, and two saint statues attributed to Filippo Qattrocchi di Gangi.
Piazza San Michele has a central circular fountain that is named after the 17th-century church dedicated in honor of the saint. We then arrive at Piazza del Popolo. You will find the neoGothic town hall. This was once a convent for Carmelites. Then came the two Pottino Palaces from the Marquis di Eschifaldo. The one that is currently in public ownership hosts temporary exhibitions as well as the stunning Enchanted Nativity during Christmas. The Pottino heirs own the other one. It has a main level with lovely nineteenth-century living spaces that can be viewed as a “historic home museum”. They have antique furniture, including precious tableware from Prince Umberto II.
We arrive at a small square dedicated to the Friar Umile Pintorno da Pelalia. This Capuchin is responsible for 33 carved wooden crucifixes that were widely distributed in Italy and elsewhere. This activity was started in 1623, the year of the Black Death in Sicily.
The Oratory for the Souls in Purgatory (Oratorio delle Anime Purganti) is located next to Plaza Ruggero VII. It has a large belfry. The Baroque fountain made of Billiemi marble is located next to the Oratory in Piazza dei Quattro Cannoli. It was the only water source in the village until the eighteenth-century.
Piazza duomo is home to the stunning architectural theater that overlooks the Cathedral. It includes a colonnade, two bell towers and a colonnade. One of these towers dates back to Norman times and has an Arabic-style window. The other was built in the eighteenth century. The facade features a wooden door with Gothic-Catalan carved panels. Inside, you will find three naves supported on twelve pillars that represent the Apostles. The right aisle contains the canvas Deposition of Christ, which Josepe de Ribera titled Lo Spagnoletto, Our Lady of the Angels (1623). It shows the story of the lame man of Gangi, the first crucifix made in 1623 by Brother Umile da Petralia.
Let’s continue the tour with the Church of Salvatore, the only Madonie church with an elliptical layout. This plan corresponds, some say, to the one of the mosque on which the Christian Church was built by the Normans. It was expanded in the second half the eighteenth century and still has interesting paintings and sculptures including the St. Filippo Quattrocchi, sculptor of Joseph.
The Church of San Teodoro is located opposite the Norman Gateway Seriy. This ancient entrance to the old town is the last. Although the current building layout dates back to 1759, the bell tower was created by the alteration of one tower from the medieval city walls. It also contains an intriguing medieval sarcophagus.
The Convent dei Frati Minori Riformati is located near the center. It was built in 1611 with the annexed Church by the wills of some noblewomen. Friar Umile da Petralia lived in this convent for his first year of novitiate. The church’s magnificent façade, with its bas-reliefs and floral ornaments, recalls Spanish Churrigueresque’s exuberant decorative style.
Nearby is the 18th-century Villa Sgadari. This beautiful baroque villa is one of the most impressive in Madonie. An exhibition of Sicilian puppets and carts.
You can also admire other important palaces as you walk around the village, such as Piazza Quattro Cannoli Palazzo Pottino Marchesi di Irosa, Palazzo Vigneri and Piazza San Michele Palazzo Sabatini–Salvia.
The village is made up of many alleyways and terraced houses. Vittorio Cerami’s house, P was a survivor from the Second World War naval Battle of Cape Matapan. His paintings and letters from the war front are still preserved in his house.
A large salt mine ( miniera di salgemma is located near Raffo. It was used to produce the “salt” of Sicily. You can also visit the Salt Museum, which houses a collection salt sculptures made by artists around the world.
The Church of the Trinity is located in the same hamlet as the village. It preserves an 18th-century baptismal font.
Bread is made in the village with durum wheat semolina. In some areas, loaves are still baked in wood ovens with “criscenti”, which is home-made raised dough.
You will also find many dairy products here, such as provolone and steamed stretched cow’s cheese.