The town of Contessa Entellina is located in the province of Palermo and is considered the oldest Albanian settlement in Italy. The town, together with Piana degli Albanesi, Santa Cristina Gela, Mezzojuso and Palazzo Adriano, stands out for its cultural identity and traditions, for the Arbëreshë language and for the religious rite which, to this day, is the Byzantine one. The birth of the five municipalities is linked to a historical event, which occurred around 1450, namely the flight of a group of Albanian exiles who fled their lands to escape the Ottoman invasion. Contessa is a very particular town, inside two souls coexist, the Sicilian and the Balkan, which integrate and complement each other. The area surrounding Contessa Entellina is rich in mountains, woods and waterways. Among the places to visit there are the Byzantine rite churches with their precious icons, the Abbey of Santa Maria del Bosco, a monumental complex that dates back to the thirteenth century, the Castle of Calatamauro, from the medieval era, and the Rocca di Entella, archaeological site of Elymian origin. Contessa's economy is based on agriculture, mainly on wine, but oil and wheat are also produced, and local craftsmanship which occupies a particular place in the town's economy should also be mentioned.
A small mountain town in the Belice Valley, Contessa is considered an ethnic, linguistic and religious oasis (Italo-Greek-Albanian community) due to the peculiar cultural identity of its inhabitants. The main activities concern agriculture and pastoralism. It constitutes the oldest Albanian settlement in Italy. In fact, from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century many Albanians took refuge in Italy to escape the Ottoman domination and preserve the Christian faith, founding or repopulating about 100 locations in Southern Italy. Contessa Entellina, founded in 1450 by Albanian soldiers, who had served for the king of Naples in the castle of Bisiri (Mazara), is one of about 50 localities, which still preserve the Byzantine rite and the language, traditions and customs of the Albanian ancestors.
Before 1450 Contessa was one of the hamlets of the territory of Entella and of the Calatamauro castle. Many are the news on Contessa reported from the sixteenth century to today in many administrative, ecclesiastical documents, etc., concerning the new community of Albanians who settled in the hamlet, called in the Middle Ages "vinea Comitissae".
Contessa Entellina preserves in its territory archaeological, artistic, monumental and landscape assets, among the latter two Integral Natural Reserves, that of Grotta di Entella, which is located in the northern part of the territory in the Rocca di Entella and that of Santa Maria del Bosco and Monte Genuardo which falls in the southern part of the territory and also affects the municipalities of Sambuca di Sicilia (Ag) and Giuliana (Pa).
The fortress of Entella has been and is the subject of various excavations which, in addition to the necropolis, bring to light the ancient buildings and whose finds are kept in a modern antiquarium, now a museum. Inside the Antiquarium of Entella, the reconstruction of a glimpse of the Hellenistic necropolis, rebuilt in the context of the excavation, is particularly striking. The town has an economy based on agriculture (vines, olive trees, cereals) recently the DOC for wine production was recognized, already in ancient times there was talk of Vinea Comitissa and the coins of the ancient Entello depicted bunches of grapes.
Festivals, parties and other events in Contessa Entellina
Terre Sicane Wine Fest - Food and wine review promoted by the Terre Sicane Wine Route and the Municipality of Contessa Entellina in the heart of the Sicani Mountains Park. The event dedicated to the best wine expressions of Terre Sicane.
Agricultural Fair - Event dedicated to the excellence of the territory: tastings of traditional cheeses, wines and sweets but also exhibition of agricultural machinery and equipment.
Per Aspera ad Astra - An evening dedicated to beauty in the magical atmosphere of the Calatamauro Castle.
Sagra del Grano - A festival dedicated to the promotion, enhancement and tasting of typical local products derived from wheat.