Welcome in Sicily, I'm Emanuele Zaccaria and I will take you around the Madonie mountains, to discover some of the most beautiful villages in Sicily! We will discover together Isnello and Castelbuono, the city of panettone and more! We will go to Petralia Sottana and Soprana, then to Gangi and up to Mistretta, in the area of the Nebrodi Mountains! We will also make a trip to Nicosia and the beautiful village and castle of Sperlinga, which are in the province of Enna, and, even if they are not in the Madonie or Nebrodi, it is nevertheless worth extending the trip to see them! I will also take you by rubber boat to the Gorges of Tiberius, a naturalistic incredible place! We will finish the trip, returning to Palermo, with a jump in the famous Villa Palagonia in Bagheria! Are you ready to start our journey ??? *Credits: This tour was made by Emanuele Zaccaria, as a multimedia tourist and storytelling project for the "Laboratory of formal technical writing (storytelling and gamification)", under the coordination of Prof. Elisa Bonacini, within the ITS 2-years COURSE "Higher Technician for the management of tourist accommodation facilities and cultural activities", 2019-2021, founded by the ITS Archimede Foundation at the CUMO Eastern Mediterranean University Consortium, in Noto (Syracuse).*
Welcome in Sicily! After taking your car, you will drive directly to the Madonie Mountains, a great area protected in its biodiversity through the Madonie Regional Natural Park, since 1989! On this first day you will discover the beautiful cities of Isnello and Castelbuono!
Welcome in Sicily! Well arrived in the airport of Palermo! Take your car...and a granita and brioche if you want to have a little rest, after your flight, or a real recharge of energy! Now it' the time di start your trip!
Isnello is a little village of the [Madonie Park](https://www.parcodellemadonie.it), a real gem embedded on the mountains. The watercourse, called Isnello, which descends from the Madonie, laps the town to the north, to wedge itself into a suggestive narrow canyon formed between the hill of the castle, built probably under the Byzantine empire about 8th century AD, and the steep wall of the Montagna Grotta Grande. As many other centers, its history is intertwined with that of the families that alternate there, from 12th to 16th centuries. A strange story happened here in 1788: the citizens of Isnello, tired of the dominion exercised by the counts on the basis of the benefit, bought back the territories of the county, finally dissolving themselves from the baronial authority.
You can have a beautiful walk and visit the Castel's ruins and some churches, between them the Mother Church. In the middle of the city stands in fact the Mother Church, dedicated to the patron St. Nicholas of Bari, bishop of Mira. Dating between the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th centuries, it preserved beautiful stuccoes dating 1607 and a mechanical organ dating to 1625. Really interesting are a marble tabernacle (1484-1495), the wooden choir of 1601 and two wooden statue, that one of the patron San Nicolò (1689) and a beautiful crucifix by Giuseppe Li Volsi dating 1619.
At noon you can have lunch in the restaurant "La brace", where you can eat the typical local and seasonal products of the Madonie area, inspired by the ancestors' tradition, but adding a touch of creativity. Obviously, if in season, it's the right place where you can taste fresh forest mushrooms, wild vegetables and a very good local wine!
After lunch, in the afternoon I suggest you to visit the beautiful astronomical observatory. Do you know that the Madonie mountain area is among the best astronomical observing sites in Italy? The sky of the Madonie is wonderful here, thanks to the total absence of night light sources: here there is a clear view of the night sky in different days of the year. This was the reason why in 1990s it was decided to create an Astronomical Observatory in the Piano Battaglia area, with a Planetarium!
After the astronomical observatory you will stop in the beautiful little town of [Castelbuono](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castelbuono), which has medieval origins as testified by its beautiful and well preserved castle, where the Civic Museum has been created!!! You will fall in love with Castelbuono! I suggest you take a walk along the road that from the Castle (which is worth a visit, both for the beautiful contemporary art collection, but above all for the splendid Chapel of Sant'anna which is preserved here) leads to the central square with the Church Mother, who hides a frescoed crypt whose visit is not to be missed!
The Castle was built here in a very strong and dominating position. The current building of the Ventimiglia castle, which name derives from the noble family [Ventimiglia](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ventimiglia_family) (one of the most powerful in the medieval times) is the result from numerous renovations, which are difficult to reconstruct from its original appearance. With a simple quadrangular plan, it shows on the outside a mixture of styles, able to influence all the Sicilian architecture. Cube volume recalls the Arabic style; the square corner towers echo the Norman one; the round tower instead refers to the Swabian military constructions. Inside, a Contemporary Artwork are displayed and you must visit the incredible Palatina Chapel well-decorated in marble and stucco, dedicated to [Saint Anne](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Anne) (the patron of the village), dating to 1683 and work of the very famous [Giacomo Serpotta](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giacomo_Serpotta) artist. Its beauty will leave you enchanted!!!
Here you are in the middle of the main square of the village and I'm sure you'll fell like you was living in the medieval times! The church with a portico on the facade, a bell tower on the left side, a fountain in the middle of the square: here you can smell a real medieval flavor in the air! Enter the Church, dating from the 14th century and a suggestion I hope you'll catch: go down and see the crypto, it's full covered of incredible realistic and colored frescoes!
Here in the Madonie, in addition to fresh mushrooms and other delights, manna is grown, a natural sweetener that you will find in all the shops! And Castelbuono has also become famous for the famous traditional panettone of Fiasconaro, made using the Mann in fact! Here you are just in front of one of the realms of goodness! The Fiasconaro pastry shop is specialized above all in artisan panettone, today exported from this village on the Madonie all over the world! Taste a few pieces, you will see the incredible goodness in its various flavors!
In the second you will discover some of the most beautiful villages in this area and in the whole Sicily!
The very first stop of the second day is the little town of Petralia Sottana. Certain historical information on the existence of the two Petralia, Soprana and Sottana, dates back only in 1258 when [Manfredi](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manfred,_King_of_Sicily), son of Emperor [Frederick II](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_II,_Holy_Roman_Emperor), conferred the investiture of the County of Collesano to Enrico, count of the Ventimiglia family. The two Petralie, merged into the barony of the Petralie, lived the events of the Ventimiglia, both in the unification of the two Counties, Geraci and Collesano, and in their separation. In 1444 Pietro Cardona, son of the first viceroy of Sicily, became the lord of both villages. Finally, with the marriage of the widow Moncada di Paternò with the Duke of Montalto, Petralia is almost at the center of an immense heritage that went from San Mauro, Collesano, Geraci, Caltanissetta to Paternò (near Catania).
The Mother Church in Petralia Sottana is located in the ancient "Pusterna", a district overlooking piazza Umberto. It is the main Catholic place of worship in Petralia Sottana, but undoubtedly the largest church in the Madonie, belonging to the diocese of Cefalù; it is the seat of the Maria Santissima Assunta parish, full of artworks and baroque frescos. Between them, is notable the wooden statue of the Patron San Calogero, artwork of Frate Umile da Petralia, a very famous sculptor if 16th century.
Of a great beauty is the Badia or Church of the Holy Trinity, built around 16th century, annexed to a former cloister. Inside you will admire a great icona, showing episodes from Jesus' life.
You will then pass to the village of Petralia Soprana, which is the highest municipality in the Madonie. The town is included in the club of the [most beautiful villages in Italy](https://borghipiubelliditalia.it/en/) and has been proclaimed "Borgo dei borghi 2018" (meaning "the most beautiful village in Italy").
Here, in Piazza Duomo, a typical medieval square, you can see another Mother Church, one of the most beautiful and well-preserved medieval churches in Sicily: the Mother Church of Petralia Soprana, dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul, a place of worship! Between two bel towers (one dating to 15th century the second one to 18th) stands also a great portico. Again, inside, you will admire a second wooden crucifix by Frate Umile.
This is a great point from which you we can admire the beauty of Petralia Soprana!
At noon you will move to the beautiful village of [Gangi](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gangi,_Sicily)! Probably here there was a Roman settlement, but the current medieval one dated back to 1300. In the time the village was rebuilt on the actual site on Monte Marone, after its destruction in the course of the [Sicilian Vespers](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sicilian_Vespers) war, as part of the county of Geraci. In 1625 it was acquired by the Graffeo family who, in 1629, became Princes of Gangi. In 1677 the Valguarnera family became the owner of the land. Your first stop here is for lunch! Then, you'll discover this town, which is - as Petralia Soprana - part of the club of the most beautiful villages in Italy and has been proclaimed "Borgo dei borghi 2014".
You will have lunch in the beautiful [Sant'Anna restaurant](http://www.trattoriasantanna.it), where you can eat typical and traditional plates. I suggest to have Sant'Anna macaroni and grilled meat!!!
This is one of the most famous monuments in all the Madonie area and over: the Ventimiglia tower, which is now connected to the Church and it's of a great beauty! The tower presents a refined style divided into three architectural orders and it is topped by an eighteenthcentury clock, which is embodied in the Church of St. Nicholas (the Cathedral of Gangi). This church, built by the Knights of Jerusalem, hosts the works of the “Zoppo” (cripple) of Gangi, a known local artist and author of many other works, also published in neighboring towns. However, the identity of the “Zoppo” is still unknown.
You will also visit the Sanctuary of the Holy Spirit.
You will then move to the little town of Castel Lucio, to see one of the contemporary land art monuments of the Fiumara d'Arte open air contemporary museum.
The [Labyrinth of Arianna](http://www.ateliersulmare.com/en/fiumara_en/opere_en/arianna_en.html) is one of the most beautiful and impressive contemporary land artworks of the Fiumara d'Arte open air museum! You will have the opportunity to admire this beautiful labyrinth; the work is in red-patinated concrete and that is why it has that color similar to terracotta. To create it, the sculptor Lanfredini used the material in an unusual way. It was not, in fact, polished by tools. To transform and erode it, it was the natural agents, that is the sun, the rain and the wind. Visitors also influence this, contributing (even unwittingly) to shape it with their passage. The labyrinth is not just a "physical" path. It is, in fact, also an inner journey, to be done all at once.
At the end of the day, you will move to Mistretta, which is at the beginning, on its western side, of the Nebrodi Park. Mistretta has a great medieval layout: we know that in 1101, a village was colonised by Norman who created part of the current old town centre. There are important holy places here, between them the Mother Church of St Lucy, built in the 12th century; the Church of St. Sebastian, erected in the 16th century; the Church St. Francis, built in the 16th century; the Church of St. Catherine, erected in the 15th century. Mistretta is the seat of the Regional Museum of Local Traditions “Giuseppe Cocchiara” where a collection of ancient art and craft objects are displayed.
Here you can finally have a great dinner! Taste the antipasti, which are very traditional, and meat...and the genuine homemade cannoli!
On the third day you will visit the beautiful city of Nicosia in the morning and, after having lunch, the incredible well preserved rock-carved Castel in Sperlinga. Then you will return for sleep in Gangi, because is more simple to reach tomorrow the next experience I chose for you!
Welcome to [Nicosia](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicosia,_Sicily)! One of the biggest town in the hearth of Sicily which has been able to well preserve its medieval origins. Nicosia was for a long time seat of a diocese, this is the reason you will find so much churches and monasteries! In this case, a great izi.TRAVEL audioguide will explain everything about this town, its origins and most important monuments!
The very firs stop in Nicosia is the Cathedral, the Church of San Nicola. Its date of building is uncertain, but it was surely rebuilt and enlarged in 1340. Many other rearrangements were made between 1783 and 1810, when it was designated as future Cathedral. The bell tower and the main gothic-norman portal are the most important original portion on outside. Inside, a great collection of precious artworks and sculpture could be admired, but the more important think (not visible) is an ancient painted wooden ceiling that covered the Cathedral, now hidden by the recent vault in masonry decorated with frescoes.
An other beautiful church her is the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.
This is one of the greatest restaurant here! Do you want to taste how they are able to cook fish...in the middle of the mountains?? In a great way! But pasta, grilled meat, local vegetables, pizza too, are great! So it's your decision!
And now you will visit the beautiful [Sperlinga castle](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sperlinga); a medieval castle built on the rock overlooking the town of Sperlinga in the province of Enna, carved into the sandstone rock! I'm sure you'll rest impressed from it! A guided tour could explain t features a particular construction in the sandstone rock. Again, Sperlinga is one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, as Petralia Soprana and Gangi!
Let's have your dinner again at the Sant'Anna restaurant, this evening! You can taste other specialities!
In this day visit Bagherîa
Do you want to leave Sicily without a great emotion??? Here is!!! An excursion in rubber boat in the Gorge of Tiberius, an incredible site within the Madonie Global Geopark directly recognized by the World Heritage List of UNESCO!
After all the emotions of the mooring, a great and last fish lunch is the right prize for you!
Finally, in this fourth day you will visit [Bagheria](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bagheria), on the Tyrrhenian coast near Palermo. You will understand why this town is known as the "city of villas"! Here you will se the most famous, [Villa Palagonia](https://www.wondersofsicily.com/bagheria-villa-palagonia.htm)!
I'm sure you'll be impressed by this Villa and its monsters! And now, take your car and go finally to the airport! I hope you enjoyed the trip I suggested!!!