These evocative villages in Sicily, often unknown, stand out for some distinctive traits that make them unique in their being not exactly famous. This, however, leads you to experience a touch of private luxury and, at the same time, the authenticity of experiences related to local culture.
Agira, the sweetest village
This small village in Sicily stands on Mount Teja at 670 meters above sea level and lies astride the valleys formed by the Salso and Dittaino rivers. The origin of the name could go back either to its founder or to the presence of a silver mine (argyros, which means “silver” in ancient Greek). According to the legend narrated by the famous historian Diodoro Siculo, it seems that Hercules passed by Agira where he was greeted with honors for having faced his tenth effort: taking the oxen from Gerione, a giant with three bodies and three heads. After defeating the troops of the Sicani people in the hinterland of Sicily, he was hosted in Agira. Here, he repaid the hospitality received, by building a lake and a temple for his nephew Iolao, who had taken part in the epic undertaking.
But Agira is known, above all, for its delicious treats called Cassatelle di Agira, “panzerotti” filled with cocoa and almonds, flavored with cinnamon. I recommend you taste and buy them at Bottega delle Cassatelle. Here, they are so delicious! If you are going to visit Agira in Autumn, in the month of November, join the local festival dedicated to this Sicilian dessert.
For accommodation I recommend Case al Borgo-Agira Center-Home Relais, with spectacular views of the countryside and a beautiful swimming pool. It is the perfect place for those looking for relaxation away from the busy city. At their restaurant you can also taste the local cuisine.
Tusa, the artistic village
This village in Sicily, just near Cefalù, is instead known for the Fiumara d’Arte, an open-air museum consisting of a series of sculptures by contemporary artists located along the banks of the Tusa river. The project is a real fusion of landscape, culture and art. The Fiumara was born in 1982, when the collector and artist Antonio Presti commissioned the sculpture “La materia poteva non esserci”, realized in 1986 in memory of his father. Among the sculptures there is also the “Golden Boat Room” by the Japanese artist Hidetoshi Nagasawa, who has always stood out for his unstoppable search for lost time. It is a room enclosed in the ground, with a boat turned upside down and covered with gold, the fulcrum of the whole work. It is not possible to visit it, because of the artist’s will. He wanted to deliver it only to the memory.
Antonio Presti is also the creator of the splendid Art Hotel Atelier sul Mare where I had the pleasure of staying. It is a hotel-museum of contemporary art unique in the world, a few meters from the sea. International artist created 20 of the 40 rooms of the Atelier sul Mare. For this reason, if you decide to stay here, choose one of these rooms rather than the standard rooms. I slept in the room called “The Prophet’s Room”. A place where art and romance combine. If you want to recharge your batteries this is a magical and exclusive environment. Here, you will live a real spiritual and creative experience. Just in front of the hotel, there is a seaside restaurant where you can eat good fish at affordable prices. It is the Art-Hotel Atelier sul Mare Restaurant.
Montalbano Elicona, awarded as the most beautiful village
This village in Sicily was nominated as the most beautiful village of 2015. It is known for Andrea Camilleri’s saga, but also for its amazing view. In fact, the promontory overlooks the stunning Aeolian Islands, Capo Milazzo and the Nebrodi mountains. In Montalbano Elicona, Aragonese, Angioni, Byzantines, Normans, Swabians stopped. They have enriched it with their culture and traditions. The heart of the village is undoubtedly the castle, a fortress that Frederick II of Aragon turned into a royal residence for summer stays. On the 24th of August the evocative Procession of the Madonna della Provvidenza takes place.
If you want to stay here I recommend Montalbano Hotel where you can also enjoy the spa. This is the ideal place if you are looking for relaxation. A very nice place to go for dinner, in the evening, is La Sciarbonata.
Savoca and The Godfather saga
Last but not least, here is Savoca, the cinematographic village in Sicily. It was the background of the Corleone saga. So it is certainly the place for film buffs. Taste a good granita with the traditional local sweet, a biscuit called zuccarata, at Bar Vitelli, where some scenes from the film The Godfather were shot.
Taste the bread at Il Sambuco – Pane Condito, a loaf stuffed with delicious local ingredients, called pane cunzatu in Sicilian. Nice for a quick lunch. For an aperitif with a breathtaking view and to enjoy a stunning sunset I recommend Enoteca – Wine Bar Dioniso. I love this place, it’s truly magical. Obviously you can also stay for dinner. Food is tasty. I chose a good platter of cold cuts with an amazing red Sicilian wine. As I have already said, the panorama is unique and the atmosphere very intimate. If you want to try a chic restaurant then choose Gelsonero.
As you can see, each village in Sicily has something different to offer. This is only the beginning! I will talk you about other lovely villages in Sicily you cannot miss. Choose your favourite one and plan your trip!