Piana degli Albanesi
Amidst the mills of the Trapani saltpans, you will feel as if you were in Holland. Wandering through the birch forest of Aetnensis, you will feel as if you were in Scandinavia. Don’t be surprised if visiting Piana degli Albanesi you wonder if you have been teleported to Albania. Actually, you are still on this surprising island called Sicily.
Piana degli Albanesi or Hora e Arbëreshëvet in Arbëreshë, is near Palermo. It is a very characteristic place of great anthropological and naturalistic interest. Its history begins in the 15th century, with the settlement of different peoples and ethnic groups. Among them were the Albanians, who left their traces here. Here is spoken one of the many Albanian dialects and you can learn about the typical customs and traditions.
In the old town, there are many historical palaces in Byzantine style. Strolling through the town alleys, you can also see numerous Kronjet fountains. These are typical fountains made of local stone.
The Sheshi quarter, with its stairways and enchanting views, is the oldest part of the village. The first Arbëreshë people who arrived in Sicily built their dwellings on the rocks in this area. Here is also where you can see the noble Manzone Palace (Pallaci Mancuni), a venue for cultural events.
The Church of the Basilian Monastery of the Holy Saviour at Sclizza (Klisha manastir Shejt Shpëtimtar te Sklica) stands on the homonymous hill: you can reach it to enjoy the magnificent panorama that overlooks the entire valley.
A few metres from Vittorio Emanuele Square, the Cathedral of St Demetrius the Great (known as klisha e Shën Mitrit) is the seat of the eparchy of Piana degli Albanesi. It is the constituency of the Italo-Albanian Church in Sicily. Here are celebrated some of Sicily’s most involving Holy Week ceremonies. Don’t miss them.
After visiting the historic centre, we reach the symbolic lake of Piana degli Albanesi. Absolute peace reigns in this luxuriant oasis. It is a perfect place to relax. Let’s trace the footsteps of Santa Rosalia and follow the emotional Itinerarium Rosalie. We can experience the route on foot, by bike or on horseback. All around us, we admire a spectacular natural landscape. Outdoor sports enthusiasts can choose to fish in silence on the shore or glide over the water in a kayak. It is also possible to paraglide and enjoy a privileged view from the sky.
Before starting the walk, you can get a delicious and irresistible food supply in one of the many shops selling typical products. It will then be possible to stop and picnic in the equipped areas. Take a rest, lying down on the grass surrounded by nature.
As you can imagine, the local gastronomy also has surprises in store. In addition to the typical local dishes, the fusion with Albanian culture gives rise to delicious recipes. Such is the case with strangujët. They are a kind of gnocchi seasoned with tomato and lots of basil. Traditionally, desserts made with sheep’s ricotta cheese are second to none! Try cannoli and bignè to believe.
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