Castelbuono

Castelbuono

The township of Castelbuono lies in the heart of the Madonie mountain range: with its Castle perched on the Colle San Pietro this place appears like a village of times gone by! Castelbuono is situated within the luxuriant and glowing vegetation of its woods of oaks, chestnuts, cherry trees, and above all of manna ashes. The local manna ash is the tree from which, through a series of small cuts made in its bark, a sugary liquid pours out that solidifies under the heat of the sun producing the well-known “Manna.” Manna is an arboreal essence in great demand for its numerous detoxifying properties that is also used in local confectionery. Castelbuono is one of the few townships in the world together with the adjacent village of Pollina to cultivate the “manna” extracted from ash trees’ trunks and to encourage the subsistence of the very ancient job of the ash grower. The origins of Castelbuono are to be connected with the small Byzantine centre of “Ypsigro” (from Byzantine Greek, “fresh spot”) which existed near the present-day township. Since the fourteenth century the history of Castelbuono becomes intertwined with the history of the County of Geraci and of the Ventimiglia family. Under their “enlightened” government, the township experienced a considerable growth throughout the centuries. In the sixteenth century Castelbuono was attributed the title of “Capital of the Ventimiglia Estate” which included more than “twenty lands” and many “fiefdoms.” The Castle of Ventimiglia is the last evidence of all these properties. It was built in 1316 under Count Francesco I’s order. On the central piazza Margherita (decorated in its centre by a fountain from the sixteenth century) lies the Matrice Vecchia church (dating from the half of the fourteenth century) with its Renaissance portico on its façade side and a bell tower covered with coloured maiolica. From piazza Margherita, Sant’Anna road leads straight to the imposing Castle on top of two large and impressive stairways through a passage marked out by a beautiful gothic style wooden portico of 1316. Although it has been damaged, the Castle still maintains its firm character as a “medieval manor house” with a regular ground plan and square towers at each corner. Its interiors still live up to the aristocratic nobility that once resided here, and are divided into several elegant halls decorated with stucchi by Giuseppe and Giacomo Serpotta. The Castle was used as the setting for the Oscar winning film “Nuovo Cinema Paradiso” by Giuseppe Tornatore. Today it houses the Civic Museum, that includes an archeological, a sacred arts and a picture gallery section. This latter also welcomes contemporary art exhibitions. Craftsmanship is still flourishing in Castelbuono. Wooden crafts and cast iron objects figure amongst the most popular and well-appreciated items. Special attention shoud also be given to women handicraft, especially needlework, lacework, weaving. Among the local gourmet products, confectioneries are also widely appreciated abroad. You can savour the local Easter cake baked in the shape of a dove (“colomba”), as well as hand-painted Easter eggs, the manna panettone, almond products, different types and shapes of biscuits and delicious homemade bread. There are as well several noteworthy wineries and olive oil mills whose high quality products are exported all over the world. The feast of Castelbuono’s patron, Saint Anna, on 27th July is one of the major events in the township. The “Arruccata di li Ventimiglia” is a period costume parade and performance of the most significant moments in the history of Castelbuono.

Villas near to Castelbuono