Sambuca di Sicilia
Sambuca di Sicilia is a splendid village of Arab origin in the province of Agrigento. Lying on a hill, it is immersed in the Belice Valley, between Agrigento and Palermo. Is the third Sicilian town to win the title of most beautiful village in Italy, after Gangi in 2014 and Montalbano Elicona in 2015. The Sicilian village of Sambuca is one of the most fascinating of our island. It still contains traces of Arab origins and offers a perfect mix of history, nature and culture. Its beauty earned it the title of "Borgo dei Borghi" in 2016.
The Municipality of Sambuca di Sicilia, which is located a few kilometers from the sea of Menfi, Sciacca and the Archaeological Park of Selinunte, boasts an ancient history, which has its roots in the years of Arab domination. The history of Sambuca di Sicilia is very ancient. Styles and eras have intertwined, of which it still retains the signs. On Mount Adranone you can see the archaeological complex of the 4th century BC. and the ancient Arab farmhouse in the resort area.
According to historical sources, it was founded by the Emir Al Zabut immediately after the Arab landing in Sicily in 827.
A living testimony of this origin is the entire district of the "Vicoli Saraceni", transformed into a museum of Arab-Sicilian history. The fortress called Mazzallakkar, on the Orange Lake, which is located to the south, in the valley of the mills, is also of Arab origin.
The Mazzallakkar fortress is a very special place for a reason: periodically, as the water level of the Orange Lake rises, it is submerged.
In 1089 Count Roger conquered some hamlets in the Val di Mazara including the fiefdom of Sambuci and the hamlet of Zabut, aggregated to the county of Calatafimi.
In 1185 Sambuca following the war of the baronage many notables moved from Adragna to Zabut. The town kept the name Zabut until 1923 when the Municipal Council of the time changed the same name to Sambuca di Sicilia.
The Arab quarter of Sambuca di Sicilia
The Saracen district is located in the highest part of Sambuca di Sicilia and preserves intact the Arab structure characterized by a fabric made up of open spaces, arches and courtyards that the population calls "the seven Arab alleys" or "setti vaneddi" . It is undoubtedly one of the things to see in Sambuca di Sicilia.
The district is divided from north to south by an urban artery, "Via Fantasma", so named in 1882 following strange apparitions of spirits and ghosts of Arab warriors. Still this episode attracts many tourists, who go to the Arab alleys of Sambuca di Sicilia trying to see some "ghost warrior".
Some sources report that in the ancient Arab quarter of Sambuca di Sicilia, during the reconstruction works following the earthquake that occurred in '68, it was not uncommon to discover human remains in the sub-inhabited area of the ancient residences.
Things to do and see in Sambuca di Sicilia
In the oldest and highest area of Sambuca di Sicilia it is worth seeing the Matrice (Mother Church). Built on a part of the old castle of Zabut, the Mother Church has a beautiful façade in tuff stone. The interior is made up of three naves divided by columns supporting round arches. The bell tower that ends with a pyramidal spire is beautiful. The church, severely damaged by the 1968 earthquake, has not yet been fully restored.
Also in the Saracen quarter is the Church of the Rosary which houses several paintings of the eighteenth century. Noteworthy is the finely carved wooden door, dedicated to Domenico di Cusman.
Along the course, however, we find the Church of San Giuseppe which has a statue of the saint in a niche above the portal. In the same area of the course of Sambuca di Sicilia are the Palazzi Di Leo and Oddo (seat of the Municipality).
A few steps away is the Church of the Conception with the splendid pointed arch portal. Other buildings to admire are Palazzo Rollo, Palazzo Giacone, Palazzo Fiore, Palazzo Campisi, Palazzo Ciaccio, Palazzo Amodei and Palazzo Panitteri, seat of the archaeological museum.
In the rooms of Palazzo Panitteri are kept the precious finds from the Archaeological Park of Monte Adranone.
Among the other things to see in Sambuca di Sicilia it is worth mentioning the Church of Santa Caterina d'Alessandria in Baroque style, one of the oldest in the village. Not to be missed are the Chiesa del Carmine, which houses a marble statue of the Madonna dell'Udienza, the Church of Purgatory and the Church of San Michele.
The "Idea municipal theater" was built in the first half of the 19th century, at the same time as the theaters of the great cities of Sicily. In fact, the Bellini in Catania, the Teatro Massimo and the Politeama in Palermo, and the Regina Margherita in Agrigento date from the same period.
Although small in size, the Sambuca di Sicilia theater includes three tiers of boxes, the stalls and a large stage. The shape is the classic one of large theaters, with a flattened dome vault.
Damaged by the earthquake of January 1968, it was subsequently restored and opened for public use.
Returned to the city, the theater L'Idea contributes to making Sambuca di Sicilia a "City of Culture".
In front of the theater another wonderful building, of Gianbecchina Institution, former church of San Calogero, where numerous works by the twentieth-century artist, born in Sambuca, are exhibited.
to taste in Sambuca di Sicilia.
You cannot leave Sambuca di Sicilia without having tasted a good glass of wine. In this area of Sicily, in fact, there are several companies that produce wines of the highest quality. The flagship of the city economy are the vineyards from which a very precious wine is obtained, the Sambuca di Sicilia DOC, exported all over the world. The production of Nero D'Avola is very widespread.
The village of Sambuca di Sicilia is one of the municipalities where the "vastedda della Valle del Belìce" PDO is produced, a delicious spun curd sheep cheese.
Absolutely to try is the typical sweet of Sambuca, the "minni di virgini" a sweet made of shortcrust pastry, milk cream, pumpkin, chocolate drops and cinnamon; all covered with colored sugar balls.
This dessert was created by Sister Virginia Casale of Rocca Menna, on the occasion of the marriage of the Marquis Don Pietro Beccadelli to Donna Marianna Gravina.