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The Magna via Francigena path


The route linking Agrigento and Palermo, both situated in Sicily, has historically been a crucial pathway for the movement of people, animals, and commodities. It has bridged the Mediterranean and Tyrrhenian coasts, fostering the exchange of cultural influences from the southern to the northern regions.

Starting with the Greek settlers from the Aegean Islands in the 7th century BC, who established city-states in Sicily and encountered the Phoenicians on the island's western edge, to the Romans who captured Akragas and marched along this route to take Panormus. The Romans created a system of statio and mansio, designated stops for changing horses, resting, or lodging, operational until the 4th century AD.

Following the Romans, the Byzantines integrated the area into the Sicilian Thema, strengthening their positions in castles and on hillsides for defense. In the 9th century, Muslim forces from North Africa, Arabia, and Spain transformed the island's roadways and settlements, leading to centuries of prosperity or decline. Subsequently, the French knights from Normandy, under the leadership of the Great Count Roger of Hauteville and his brother Robert Guiscard, reconquered the island after two centuries of Emir control, rejuvenating the land. They restored Greek rite churches and erected new ones in the Latin rite, promoting the cultural melding that set the stage for the modern Sicilian society.

The paths you'll encounter are more than mere routes between fields and urban centers; they are the heritage of these civilizations, the Royal Trazzere, cataloged and delineated in the Royal Cadastre by the Bourbons at the end of the 19th century. This confluence of cultures is what awaits you. It's what continues to inspire us to proclaim: "We are Sicilians, a people who rejoice in song; in our veins flows the valor of ancient knights, Normans, Greeks, Arabs, and Spaniards, all of whom have cherished this land."

The Paths
The Magna Via Francigena commences at the Cathedral of Palermo and, via Corso Calatafimi, leads to Monreale and its Cathedral, paralleling the Itinerarium Rosaliae. From Monreale, the route crosses the valley, bypasses the Conca d'Oro, and ascends to the hills of Santa Cristina Gela and the lake of Piana degli Albanesi. The journey proceeds through wheat fields towards the Sanctuary of Tagliavia and Corleone, then veering towards Prizzi.

After circling the artificial lake, the path enters the territory of the Sicani people, continuing to the Monte Carcaci Nature Reserve and reaching Castronovo di Sicilia, the geographical heart of the Magna Via. From there, the route follows the Platani river, passing through Cammarata and San Giovanni Gemini, before intersecting with the railway and the state road, and ascending towards the fortress of Sutera. Below the massif of San Paolino, the road extends through the rural villages of Campofranco, Milena, and Racalmuto, eventually arriving in Grotte, a quaint town in the Agrigento province.

The final segments of the journey lead over the Platani river to the mining towns of Comitini and Aragona, culminating at the center of Joppolo Giancaxio. The concluding stretch of countryside unveils the majestic fortress of Agrigento, its Athenian cliff, and offers a panoramic view of the Mediterranean Sea and the Valley of the Temples.

The stages

Stages Castronovo > Cammarata > San Giovanni Gemini

castronovo di sicilia

Municipalities: Cammarata, Castronovo di Sicilia, San Giovanni Gemini

Route length: 12.7 km

Maximum elevation: 692 m

Minimum elevation :: 380 m

Difficulty: Medium

Route: Asphalt 35% other 65%
Maximum gradient: 24.3%;

The heart of the Magna Via Francigena is right between the Rocca di San Vitale with its Norman ruins and its churches and the plateau of the Kassar on the mountain from which the road descends. A visit to the entire center of the Sicani village allows you to better understand the authenticity of the welcome. The road continues along a nineteenth-century trazzera which, cutting the modern hairpin bends, crosses the sports field, the emergency track for the helicopter rescue and the cemetery and reaches the intersection of the provincials that lead to fast scrolling. From here, 400 m after the crossroads, you will find the turning point for the path that leads to the Colle San Vitale company which preserves inside its land the precious archaeological evidence of the Capelvenere Necropolis: a large rock excavated for the disposal of burials and reused over the centuries also for housing purposes. Once past the site, cross the Platani along a passage that is not recommended in winter because of the water flow but which in spring and summer allows the pleasure of a cooling bath on your feet. After crossing the river you reach the most imposing control site of the Magna Via, the Casale di San Pietro, which probably preserves the memory of the Islamic settlement underground that stood around the farmhouse mentioned by Norman diplomas. The excavations of the Archaeological Superintendence of Palermo and the missions of the University of Rome Tor Vergata and York are bringing to light new discoveries that will better clarify the history of this place that has always seen the passage of people from north to south. Leaving the farmhouse behind you reach a fountain and from here you begin to climb the trazzera which follows the course of the Platani tributary, the Saracena stream, until you reach Cammarata and its castle. Entering the village allows you to stock up on food and water and to continue along the track towards the neighboring municipality of San Giovanni Gemini. (Source: official website)

Stages Cammarata/San Giovanni Gemini > Sutera


Municipalities: Cammarata, San Giovanni Gemini, Sutera

Route length: 20.3 km

Maximum elevation: 654 m

Minimum elevation :: 250 m

Difficulty: High


From the village of San Giovanni Gemini, an interpoderale road allows to exit from the inhabited center and to take the trazzera that goes down towards the river. The stage towards Sutera can easily find a stop in the accommodation facilities of the area that provide hospitality and refreshment to the traveler and from here continue along the old national road for about 2 km and then pass the railway and the SS 189, in a straight stretch where it's easier to cross while keeping your attention high. A trazzera begins which climbs for about 1.5 km and reaches the cemetery and the town of Acquaviva Platani, where you can rest and top up the water. From here a former disused provincial road takes us along the trazzere that walk on the ridge to the hills that surround Sutera and the Rocca di San Paolino. Enchanting landscapes in every season of the year that act as a scenic backdrop to the farms along the way, like the last one before Sutera which preserves the medieval origins of the town inside. The last few kilometers lead to the town and its imposing fortress, a sacred site that can be visited and perhaps fortified in the medieval period. A visit to the village and its small precious pearls is inevitable: the ràbato that still preserves the urban layout of the Arab type, made of small streets and houses built one behind the other, the ancient spit of San Simone, the church mother dedicated to the Assumption and the municipal ethno-anthropological museum located in the former Carmelite convent, the hill of Santa Croce and the palace of Francesco Salamone, one of the 13 Italian leaders who disputed the famous Challenge of Barletta. (source: official website)

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