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Discover Palazzo adriano

Palazzo Adriano is a small and ancient village located in central-western Sicily, at the very border of the Palermo province, adjacent to the Agrigento province. The population is about 2,000 inhabitants. The village's first settlements date back to the Middle Ages, during the time of the Sicilian Vespers. After a period of abandonment, the area saw the re-establishment of the town by Albanian military settlers around 1400. Situated at an altitude of 696 meters above sea level, the village is in the heart of the Sicani Mountains Regional Park.


Palazzo Adriano owes its name to a combination of historical events and legends. One of the most credited explanations refers to its Byzantine origin, relating to an ancient "palatium" (palace) existing in the area, perhaps linked to the presence of a garrison or a local administrator during the Byzantine domination in Sicily, which lasted until the Norman conquest in the 11th century. The term "Adriano" could derive from the name of a governor, a landowner, or perhaps a geographical reference.

Another theory links the name to the presence of a noble family or a person named Adriano who was significant in the area during the Middle Ages or the Renaissance. However, there are no precise historical documents to unequivocally confirm these theories.

Over the centuries, the area where Palazzo Adriano is located has seen the presence of various civilizations, including Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, contributing to the cultural and historical richness of the village. The name "Palazzo Adriano" could thus be a legacy of these various influences, crystallized over time to become the official identifier of the place.

Furthermore, the history of Palazzo Adriano is closely linked to the presence of the Arbëreshë, Albanians who settled in Sicily in the 15th century, fleeing from the Ottoman advance in the Balkans. This ethnic group has significantly influenced the local culture, but the name of the village seems to have roots predating their arrival.

In conclusion, the name of Palazzo Adriano encompasses centuries of history and cultural mixtures, reflecting the importance of the village in different epochs of Sicilian history, even if the precise origin of the name remains shrouded in a certain aura of mystery.


Palazzo Adriano is one of the villages in southern Italy that belongs to the Arbëreshë culture. This place has always been home to the Arbëreshë, of the Greek-Byzantine rite, and the Latins, of the Latin rite. Both rites belong to the Catholic religion. This coexistence has sometimes gone through difficult moments, but it was fundamental in keeping different traditions alive. The distinctive features of the Greek-Byzantine rite are manifested in the particular symbologies, which enrich and emphasize the sacredness and solemnity of the liturgical celebrations, conducted in Greek. Another peculiarity is the different structure and arrangement of the Arbëreshë churches, characterized in particular by the presence of Icons and the Iconostasis.


The Citadels

One of the most distinctive features of the urban layout of Palazzo Adriano is the presence of "Citadels," urban configurations dating back to the 15th century, the era of the repopulation of the village by an Albanian military colony.

The first Citadel (1452-1530) was built on the hill of San Nicola, near the Bourbon Castle. Accessible through a gate under the arch of the "Madonna dell'Entrata," it was surrounded by houses without road access, facing a common space called "ghitonia" (neighborhood), a meeting place in peacetime and defense in wartime. This urban fabric is characterized by dead-end alleys, narrow and winding, and strategic passages. The citadel retains the typical architecture of a medieval military village and includes the districts of Castello and San Nicola.

The second Citadel (1530-1650) developed on the hill opposite that of San Nicola, in the southeast sector, near Piazza Umberto I. Born from the second Albanian migratory wave, it had a triangular shape and was separated from the first Citadel by the two streams of Fontana Grande. Characterized by alleys, courtyards, stairways, arches, and fountains, it includes the districts of Santa Rosalia, Cartiera, Canale Buccola, and Strada del Carmine.

The third Citadel (1650-1750) is located between Via Chiara, Piazza Umberto I, and Via F. Crispi, with Piazzetta Garibaldi at its center. It began to develop in 1650 with the construction of the church Maria SS. Del Lume, and includes the districts of Xiura, Piazzetta, part of the Prodinardo district, and the Prepafano district.

The Water System

The territory of Palazzo Adriano, rich in springs, streams, rivers, and artificial lakes, has allowed its inhabitants to develop an ingenious water system, with a complex of channels, mills, fountains, troughs, a large washhouse, and a paper mill.

Octagonal Fountain (1608)

It is the largest among the numerous fountains of the village. Located in Piazza Umberto I, it is imposing and retains the plaques of the administrators who built it in 1608, a testament to the democratic layout of the village.

The Castle

The Bourbon Castle, located on the hill of San Nicola and dating back to the 18th century, is adjacent to a tower from the Frederick era. It was an important development point for Palazzo Adriano. Ferdinand IV was one of the last to use it before it was destroyed in the uprisings of 1860. Recently restored, it now houses the Museum of Italo-Albanian Culture, with historical Arbëreshë costumes on display.

Church of Maria SS. Assunta

The church dedicated to Maria SS. Assunta, of the Greek-Byzantine rite, was built starting from 1532 and later enlarged in 1770, losing its original Greek cross shape. This church is the Pantheon of the Albanian community of Palazzo Adriano and represents the largest of the Eparchy of Piana degli Albanesi. The main facade is distinguished by a wide semicircular staircase, which allowed King Ferdinand IV of Bourbon to access the church entrance on horseback. On the side

facade, there are two sundials from 1793. The bell tower houses a majestic bell, the third largest in Sicily.

Church of S. Maria del Lume

The Church of Santa Maria del Lume, of the Latin rite, began construction in 1740 by the will of Baron Schiro, rising on the ancient church of San Sebastiano. It was designed and built by F. Ferrigno from Palermo. The facade is adorned with three niches with statues of St. Peter, St. Paul, and St. Michael the Archangel. Adjacent rises a bell tower from 1751, which houses a magnificent rope clock made by the Scibetta. Inside, there are artworks attributed to Zoppo di Gangi and the school of Pietro Novelli.

Church of S. Nicola

The church of San Nicola, built by the Albanians in 1520 on the homonymous hill, was the nucleus around which the first "Citadel" developed. This church, adopting the Sicilian Baroque style, contains valuable artworks, attributed to the Gaggini school. In the apse, an icon is preserved, traditionally brought by the Albanians themselves. This icon is placed in a "vara" of gilded wood, masterfully made around 1639.

Cinema in Palazzo Adriano

"The most beautiful small town in Sicily": this is how Vittorio Sgarbi, an art critic, described Palazzo Adriano. This village has often been chosen as a location for cinema. Four films, in addition to several commercials by Italian and foreign crews, have been shot here. The frequent choice of Palazzo Adriano highlights its natural, urban, and monumental beauties. The village has been well-preserved over time, thanks to low anthropization and respect for urban regulations, maintaining its original layout. Even today, it is possible to admire the characteristic stone walls of the houses, the passages under the arches, and the cobblestone streets.

The most famous film shot here is "Cinema Paradiso" (1989), almost entirely made in Palazzo Adriano under the direction of Giuseppe Tornatore. This film gained worldwide fame, winning the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

Walking through the alleys and streets of the village, one can identify the locations of the film scenes, reliving the nostalgic and sentimental atmosphere that characterizes it.

Another important film shot in Palazzo Adriano is "A Man on His Knees" (1979) by Damiano Damiani. The final scenes were shot among the alleys of the Borgo and the surrounding mountain landscapes. This classic of Italian cinema features Michele Placido and Giuliano Gemma.

Moreover, "The Sicilian Girl" (2009), directed by Marco Amenta and winner of the Golden Rose award at the Roseto opera prima, a film inspired by the true story of Rita Atria, a Sicilian girl who denounced the mafia, can be mentioned.

Lastly, some scenes of "The Council of Egypt" (2002), directed by Emidio Greco and based on the novel of the same name by Leonardo Sciascia, were shot here. This film was recognized as of national cultural interest by the General Directorate for Cinema of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and won the Silver Ribbons in 2002 for best set design.

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