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December 13


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A few hours in Gangi

Posted by Suzanne on 31 Oct 2014

Gangi, which straddles the charming Madonie Mountains, is the latest Sicilian village to make the coveted list: The Most Beautiful Villages in Italy - I Borghi piu Belli d’Italia.

And during my long stay in Sicily this year I spent some quiet hours in the lovely Gangi on a late spring afternoon; I had travelled to Gangi from Polizzi Generosa stopping in Petralia Soprana for lunch. (The stone villages of the Madonie Mountains are only short distances from each other).

Gangi from Afar:

From Petralia Soprana, Gangi appears to nestle beneath the mighty Mount Etna far in the distance. Described in the Insight Guides Sicily as 'Tortoise -shaped' Gangi's rust coloured roof tops look like a Guttuso ‘tetti’ (rooftop) painting.

Built at 1011 meters 13th century Gangi hugs the slopes of Monte Marone and the main street, Corso Umberto I runs along the spur.


Arriving in the Centre: Late spring May 2014

I started at Piazza San Paolo at the top end of the main street. Bordered by the 16th century church of San Paolo and an 18th century bare stone abbey it leads onto the narrow main street; and it is the perfect place to start walking the cobblestone streets.

Corso Umberto is lined with grand palazzi; balconies adorned with festoons of geraniums and murals by local artists line the stone walls. There are many small hidden shops along Corso Umberto and as it continues it joins Via Giuseppe Fedele Vitale. 

One shop, the maker of musical instruments was opening later in the evening and others sold caciocavallo cheese (a renowned local cheese), art works, biscuits, breads and handmade linen.

When I arrived in the centre of town, in Piazza del Popolo, a group of children were rehearsing an end of year concert.

The impressive 18th century Palazzo Bongiorno, a little up on the left from Piazza del Popolo, (awash with room upon room of  Trompe l’ Oeil vaulted ceilings by Gaspare Fumagalli) has numerous balconies which hang above the village and look out to the lovely Madonie.

A visit to the beautifully cared for 14th century Chiesa Madre  flanked by an elegant and arcaded 13th century  Norman tower (now the bell tower); it houses some artwork by the Sicilian master painter Giuseppe Salerno.


Watching the village:

I headed to Bar Seminara, across from the church on the corner of Piazza del Popolo, and ordered an almond gelato. I sat for a while and watched the village; children, old Sicilian men chatting and balconies filled with geraniums and washing.

I continued to walk through the main piazza, a few hundred metres up Via Giuseppe Fedele. And when Via Giuseppe Fedele Vitale became narrower I stepped back for a passing car and in the corner of my eye was an elderly priest dressed in long black robes; he was slightly bent and steadied himself with a wooden stick.

He caught my attention; it was like time had stood still. He turned into the pharmacy and I waited for him to come out. He greeted someone at the door, talked a while and then walked slowly up the street in silence. His robe was moving a little and I watched him until he disappeared out of sight.

I didn’t manage to see the 100 or so 18th century mummified priests in the crypt of the Chiesa Madre or visit the art gallery in Palazzo Sgadari.

And, I will be back to discover the Harvest Festival which honours the golden wheat grown in the fields of Gangi since, as noted in the  Insight Guide, the time of Demeter. It is held in August and the cobble stone streets are draped with ears of wheat 'tied with red ribbons'.

Gangi, this jewel of the Madonie that is shrouded in fog in the colder winter evenings has me enticed.






Note: Insight Guide -Sicily referenced added 12/2017



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