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A trip to Montalbano Elicona


Thursday 04 june 2020

Immersed in the hinterland of the Gulf of Patti, Montalbano Elicona is the result of a long history that has transformed this village into a beautiful landscape and cultural glimpse of Sicily.

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A trip to Montalbano Elicona

To highlight the beauty of Montalbano Elicona, it is enough to remember the victory in 2015 of the competition 'Il Borgo dei Borghi', attributed to it during the Rai Tre broadcast 'Alle falde del Kilimangiaro'.
The victory of Montalbano Elicona is the result of a long history that has transformed this village into a splendid landscape and cultural glimpse of Sicily. The village is located in the province of Messina, in the hinterland of the Gulf of Patti and owes its name to the Latin term Mons Albanus or Albus, i.e. the site where the first settlement and fortress of the Roman period was installed. The name Elicona, instead, refers to a Greek noun. In fact, around the VIII-VII century B.C., in full Greek colonization of Sicily, the Siceliots (the Greeks of Sicily) called with the name Helikon a site, where later the medieval village will be installed.

Today Montalbano Elicona has a historical center of absolute beauty, with some churches of valuable workmanship, such as the Church of Santa Caterina di Alessandria, dating back to 1344, or the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta and San Nicolò Vescovo, built around 1648 and which today is the Cathedral of the town, but also the Sanctuary of Providence of 1630, which today houses the City.
But among the beauties of Montalbano Elicona we can not fail to mention the mighty castle, built by the Normans in the twelfth century, then became a Swabian residence, and later Aragonese and Spanish.
Moreover, the village houses a lovely photographic museum dedicated to Dr. Eugenio Belfiore, which contains more than two hundred black and white photos that tell more than one hundred years of the village's history.
For some years now, the historical centre of the village has undergone a major renovation and restoration of about fifty small houses distributed among characteristic alleys of various sizes, which create that fairy-tale atmosphere, as if time had stopped in the Middle Ages. Many of these houses house a university campus or accommodation facilities.

Castello di Montalbano Elicona, armeria

Montalbano Elicona is not only history and art, but also landscape and nature. Through excursions on foot or on horseback you can admire the varied fauna and flora of the Sicilian Val Demone. The surrounding area of Montalbano Elicona offers some really delicious surprises. Among these we must absolutely mention the fortresses of Argimusco with its megaliths, together with the characteristic cubbits, pastoral huts that recall a centuries-old tradition. Some believe that they may have been old military posts, but most probably they are pastoral shelters of pre-Romanesque times, true masterpieces of rural engineering that manage to stay warm even on the coldest winter days. But you shouldn't miss the water mills, the dolmens and the Malabotta Woods, which has become a nature reserve and is home to century-old trees, holly and lush streams that recall the atmosphere of times gone by and give the feeling of uncontaminated nature that is often missing today. But in the midst of the lush vegetation of beech, pine, chestnut and oak trees you can admire some examples of wild boar, dormouse, marten and fox, but also some birds of prey including the beautiful golden eagle.
It is necessary, however, to deepen the discourse of the suggestive megalithic complex of Argimusco formed by huge boulders of unknown origin, which perhaps recall an ancient prehistoric village and are believed to be altars consecrated to gods now lost.
Moreover, many water mills are visible in the course of the Elicona river, which are a tangible testimony of flourishing economic activities.

rocche di Argimusco

One of the events not to be missed in Montalbano Elicona takes place during the 'Corpus Dimini', held every year in June. In this traditional festival, in fact, is organized the so-called Insabbiata. In practice, the alleys and streets of the old town centre are coloured as if they were part of a wonderful painting designed by a painter who uses coloured sand.

insabbiata

Photo by sanpieropatti24.it

But Montalbano Elicona is also a culinary tradition. In the tables laid out in the village you cannot miss the black pork sausages from the Nebrodi, an indigenous specialty of Sicily. But also cheeses are the masters, with the Majorcan and the provola of the Nebrodi. The latter undergoes a very particular seasoning process and is also famous for its certainly not ordinary dimensions, which can reach 5 kilos in weight. Finally, Montalbano Elicona is home to the Fontalba water source, produced in the Milizzo district.

Formaggi Nebrodi

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