What to do and see in Gangi, a delightful village on the Madonie mountains?
Let’s start by saying that Gangi is almost 120 km from Palermo and about 60 km from Enna. It rises on Monte Marone and presents in front of it, as the crow flies, the spectacular landscape of Etna.
This delightful village is considered by many to be the jewel of Madonie and Sicily. It is also universally recognized as a place full of charm and history, so much that in 2012 it was named Jewel of Italy and in 2014 it received another important recognition: it was proclaimed “Borgo dei Borghi”.
This small medieval village appears leaning, or rather asleep, on Mount Marone in a magical whole with the surrounding nature. It is a splendid ancient town where a lively but at the same time collected atmosphere has remained, where silence and sounds play in harmony.
The gaze rises towards the top of the village, which has about 7 thousand souls, and still has all those characteristics that make an intact medieval village unique and easily distinguishable.
From the outside, Gangi communicates peace and tranquility. Inside, it contains many jewels just like a casket: monuments and churches above all, but also a lively cultural life.
Visiting Gangi is a highly recommended experience if you pass through these areas, especially if you love small, intimate and peaceful villages, where it is wonderful to discover the alleys that take you back in time.
So if you want to experience a weekend of peace and tranquility, away from the noise of the cities and in close contact with nature, you are well advised to spend a few days in Gangi and take advantage of it to taste local dishes in a restaurant or farmhouse.
The walls still rise around the small historic center of Gangi and from the highest point of the village you can enjoy a magnificent view of the surrounding valleys, the roofs of the small towns in the valley, Mount Etna and the beauty of the Sicilian plain.
To enjoy the beauties of Gangi, we recommend that you also go to the famous Belvedere, which we will talk about shortly. From this point you can see the roofs and streets of the town from above and if you love taking pictures, this is an excellent location.
What to see in Gangi: churches and monuments
Gangi is a small treasure, a casket full of silent and modest jewels, yet of great beauty. Here the ancient tradition of Sicilian villages is combined with architectural and natural beauty, a real joy for the eyes and spirit.
Immersed in a magical setting, all tight around its castle, which is one of the country’s most interesting attractions, Gangi is ideal for discovering Sicilian culture in the relaxed atmosphere typical of medieval villages.
The following video was produced by the Municipality of Gangi:
Gangi Castle is located right on the top of the town, at the highest point. Built in the 14th century, it never changed its appearance, while the small paths and cobbled streets grew around it like snakes. During the 1600s it was used as a residential building.
Today the wing that has remained practically original of the Gangi manor is the South-West one that overlooks Piazza Valguarnera.
On the opposite side is the wing on the northern overhang of Mount Marone, and from its windows it is possible to enjoy a magnificent view of the Madonie park.
Another place to visit in Gangi is the Palazzo Buongiorno, which dates back to the mid-18th century. It is a building that was built by the Buongiorno family in the mid-1700s and which today has the bedrooms frescoed by the Roman painter Gaspare Fumagalli and his father-in-law. It is possible to visit the library, the secretariat, and the chapel.
Palazzo Sgadari, on the other hand, dates back to the 19th century, and today is the seat of the Giambecchina Art Gallery, but also of the Gangi Civic Museum and the Museum of Weapons, as well as the Ethno-anthropological Museum, ideal for those who want to deepen local culture and history.
Mother Church and Church of the Holy Spirit
Among the places of worship of Gangi, we suggest you visit the Mother Church of San Nicolò di Bari. It houses the crypt where the bodies of priests and archpriests who stopped in Gangi during the 1700s rest and you will find also the works by Giuseppe Salerno and Filippo Quattrocchi.
We are in Piazza del Popolo, the square that also houses the beautiful Lion Fountain, donated to the locals by the podestà Cav. Gioacchino Mocciaro in 1931. Right next to the church there is a beautiful balcony from which it is possible to admire a breathtaking panorama, exactly that of the following photo.
The Church of the Holy Spirit is one of the most beautiful places in all of Gangi. It is extremely suggestive and the legend has it that before the sanctuary was built, there was a small shrine dedicated to the Holy Spirit, which inside kept a painting of God and a dove on the chest.
Buried and forgotten to escape the iconoclastic struggle during the 1700s, the painting was forgotten, until a farmer found it. According to legend, blood gushed from God’s eyebrow on the painting: the current Sanctuary was then erected.
To check opening times and any entrance ticket prices, please visit the official page of the Municipality of Gangi.
What to do in Gangi
After understanding what to see in Gangi, now let’s see what is worth doing here. Gangi is a very quiet village, where life flows peacefully between nature and architectural beauties.
However, there are also some interesting initiatives which can be dedicated to actively participating in the cultural traditions of the place. For example, during the Christmas period the famous Gangi Christmas markets are set up.
Gangi Christmas markets and the living nativity scene
Gangi Christmas markets are generally set up from mid-December until the end of the year, and attract many people every year for their beauty and variety.
In the Gangi Christmas markets you can buy typical food products, taste local products and even buy last-minute gift ideas for friends and relatives.
The living nativity scene of Gangi is another typical appointment of the Christmas period, which consists of one hundred figures with typical costumes which depict the scene of the birth of Jesus, against the background of a soundtrack. The scenes are devoid of dialogue and are all mimicked.
In general, during the Christmas period Palazzo Bongiorno and the museums in the center are also open, as well as the church.
Excursions in the Madonie park
During the summer, Gangi is a quiet town, certainly not the ideal destination for those looking for music and entertainment, but there can be several interesting traditional and musical initiatives.
In some cases, excursions are also organized to discover the Madonie Park, or to Monte Alburchia, an area of historical and geological interest as well as the site of an ancient Cretan city.
Gangi free homes
Are you willing to know more about Gangi free homes?
It is an initiative of the Municipality of Gangi which offers eleven houses that are currently abandoned.
The buildings are located in the characteristic village and are for sale at a ridiculously low price, to encourage the initiative against the depopulation of small Sicilian villages, with the obligation for the buyer to bear the costs of restructuring.
Also in this case the advice is to consult the official website of the Municipality of Gangi, in particular the section called “Gangi free homes”.