If you are in Italy and you are wondering what things to do in Sicily, do not forget to visit Gangi, a medieval village ranked among the most beautiful villages in Italy. Since 2012 the small town in the Madonie Mountains boasts the recognition of the municipality as a Jewel of Italy; in this place, history, culture and gastronomy come together between ancient religious rites and traditions.
The medieval village is perched on Mount Marone, facing Mount Etna, at 1050 meters above sea level. A lot of Sicilian history is contained in its 22 monuments, including churches and historic houses: there are magnificent facades and portals of churches and convents, soaring bell towers topped by cusps, opulent patrician houses and simple but decent houses of the poorer classes erected among the labyrinthine basalt streets.
Today the castle looks like a palace larger than the others with a bossed front gate and balconies on the first floor with wrought iron railings. Among the most important churches is the Abbey from the fourteenth century, the Church of St. Paul, the Church of the Trinity, the Church of the Madonna della Catena and the eighteenth-century Church of San Nicola. The latter is particular for its gray-blue dome which houses the painting of the Last Judgement by Giuseppe Salerno, known as the “Zoppo di Gangi”. Finally, there is the Torre dei Ventimiglia which became the bell tower of the Chiesa Madre in the 1500s.
Two other historic buildings deserve attention: Palazzo Bongiorno, the current city hall, famous for the vaults frescoed by the painter Gaspare Fumagalli; and Palazzo Sgadari from the 1800s where you can find the Museo Civico with Greek and Roman artefacts, the Arms Museum and the Art Gallery.
During the summer there are various events such as “Memories and Traditions” where scenes of ancient life on the streets of the medieval town are reenacted. There is also the “Sagra della Spiga”, a pastoral manifestation related to the ancient worship of the goddess Ceres. A particular feature of this event is the soundtrack played with drums made from humble materials such as goat skins, tins, and wooden sieves.
Photos by Archenzo, Azotoliquido (2&3) from Wikimedia Creative Commons and Michele Ursino from Flickr