Petralia Sottana is a medieval village built of rose-coloured stone. Its name means “happy stone” or “stone lily” due to its beauty. It is considered the most fascinating of all the villages in the area, so much so that it has acquired the nickname “Paris of the Madonie”.
It is an elegant mountain village, whose pavements – don’t be surprised – are urban geological routes that reveal, through bosses of bronze, the traces of marine fossils from millions of years ago, which are present in the local stone and used to construct here. I love strolling through the narrow, silent alleyways of the village, observing the smiles of its inhabitants. They are hard-working, sincere and friendly people. It is a joy to taste the genuine flavours of the local cuisine, to walk along the green pathways that run through the
Madonie mountain park and to listen to the tranquil silence of the woods that speak to my heart and calm every turbulence.
Walking from the house, you soon arrive in the historical centre, which is rich in 15th and 16th century churches. You will also find the Belvedere observation point, the convent, the museum and the tourist information office.
Along the main street there are shops that sell freshly picked products (gathered in the nearby woods the day before). I suggest that you pay a visit to the “house of curiu”, well-known for being the narrowest house in Italy.
An hour’s walk away you may visit the Roman bridges, and bathe in the water during the summer. You will also find the Rock of St. Otiero, a fossil-rich quarry from which came the columns for the Mother Church or Petralia Soprana from where you can see Mt. Etna and a panoramic view of Sicily.
Not far way, the fearless will find an Adventure Park, but there is also the Plain of Battaglia at a height of 1600 metres, from which you may observe the sea and the Aeolian Islands. Here, during the summer, if you are lucky, you can buy freshly made cheese from the shepherds in their typical stone houses.
A two-hour excursion on foot will take you to the sanctuary of Our Lady of the Heights (Madonna dell’Alto) at 1817 metres high, a striking place of religious significance for local people.
By car, you may wish to visit the town of Gangi with its particular conformation, once home to brigands, or the town of Geraci Siculo with its antique origins, or you may wish to follow one of the proposed itineraries around the Madonie Nature Park.
Castelbuono with its cork-tree wood is also worth a visit, and further down you will find Cefalù beside the sea, or Campofelice di Roccella or the thermal water of Sclafani Bagni.
During the summer, Petralia Sottana is lively, with an ample series of events, both cultural and musical. The highlight is the dance of the “Cordella” a centuries-old tradition that represents an old local wedding, in time to the rhythm of a dance with pagan overtones.