The noble and ancient town gives the impression that the stones have been forged with the help of the wind and bizarre deity creators. Indeed, nearby, in an area called “The Santoni”, there is a rocky complex dedicated to the worship of goddess Cibele, eastern Phrygian deity identified with the Great Mother.
On top of the city you will find the archaeological area of Akrai, founded by the people from Siracuse in 664 BC; there are also a small Greek theater (that hosts classical performances) and other remains of places of worship, tombs, quarries and a decumanus.
Starting from Piazza del Popolo you will be fascinated by the immensity of the church of San Sebastiano, rebuilt after the 1693 earthquake; the impressive staircase adds charm to the façade which was built in three orders. During the festival, people cook the cudduri, typical bread bagels with a bay leaf. The Town Hall goes back to the beginning of the twentieth century and it was built in neoclassical and Liberty style.
Palazzolo has starred in many films. The town has impressed Carmine Gallone who in 1953, arousing the wrath of the people from Vizzini, wanted to film some scenes of Cavalleria Rusticana; in 1975 Luigi Zampa filmed Gente di Rispetto; Franco Zeffirelli filmed his version of Cavalleria Rusticana; Antonio Albanese filmed the opening scene of La fame e la Sete; finally, Ficarra and Picone filmed the hilarious Nati Stanchi.
Palazzolo, of which we can see the ancient wealth, is known to be festive. Indeed, many baroque festivals are celebrated: that of San Paolo at the end of June and those of San Sebastiano and San Michele in August and late September; lastly, another celebration is the traditional Carnival festival, which is one of the most attractive of this area in Sicily, always in competition with the more famous in Acireale.
Along Corso Vittorio Emanuele, the baroque Palaces remind that many noble families lived in Palazzolo. Among them, there are the eighteenth-century Palace of the archaeologist Iudica and the seventeenth-century Palazzo Pizzo; then there is the Church of Immacolata, formerly Santa Maria di Gesù, which hosts a Renaissance masterpiece by the Dalmatian Francesco Laurana, The Lady and Child (1471); you will also find the Church of San Michele Arcangelo, just before Casa Museo A. Uccello, built by the Sicilian ethnologist inside the baronial Ferla-Bonelli Palace from the eighteenth century. In the lower part of the city there are small and great wonders that will surely impress your eyes: the Mother Church of San Nicola and San Paolo, with its distinctive tower façade with a porch built in three orders.
On June 29, the town organizes u giru ro pani (the tour of the bread) for the feast of the saint, with a cart that collects the bread offers.
We would like to finish the tour of the “living” city with the wonderful Sicilian baroque façade of the Church Annunziata. It has twin spiral columns that are decorated with marzipan fruit sculptures. The Annunciation by Antonello da Messina, now preserved at the Museum Bellomo in Syracuse, seems to have been commissioned for the Church Annunziata.
Now let’s talk about the old pastry shops that will make our mouth “happy” with their centuries-old traditions: almond and walnut sweets from the valleys in Palazzolo, combined with pistachios, honey ibleo, pralines with walnut and coffee liqueur, orange lunettes…
A typical product of Palazzolo is the ragusano DOP, a stretched curd cheese made from cow’s milk. You can’t also miss the crispelle, special Christmas cakes made with durum wheat flour, baking powder and fennel, seasoned with cinnamon and sugar or honey and cinnamon.
Let’s give a last look at Palazzolo, as we are still impressed by the baroque wealth and the “insaredde”, the colored strips that are “shot” for the holidays; let’s also take a look at the plate of a Palace reminiscent of the writer and journalist Giuseppe Fava and the remains of the Norman castle’s tower that stands in Anapo Valley.