Welcome to Gangi, one of Italy’s Most Beautiful Villages. From Palermo, you can reach it by taking a road known as “‘delle Madonie e dell’Etna’, which starts along the coast that shines with the unsurpassed beauty of the beaches in Aspra, Porticello, San Nicolò l’Arena, and finally Termini Imerese, and is dotted by the relaxing calm of patrician villas, connected one to the other – almost without interruption – by a lively line-up of geraniums, while olive, almond and fig trees loaded with fruit bend their branches down to the street” (translated from “Le Vie d’Italia”, no. 5, May 1948, p. 446).
Once you reach the foot of Mount Marone, Gangi’s maze of medieval streets twists and turns between stone houses built one on the other, castles, towers, churches, monasteries and palaces. The exact date of the town’s foundation is lost in this maze, but according to tradition it was tied to the legendary Engyon, an ancient Cretan colony that was ransacked by Roman magistrate Verres in the 1st century BC (Cicero mentioned the episode in his speeches “Against Verres”, describing the people of this mysterious town as “strong and honest men”).
Gangi is also historically a town of culture where a number of learned societies were founded in the 18th century. One of them was the Accademia degli Industriosi, a philo-Jansenist and philo-Masonic cell that was active between 1758 and 1777, with adepts engaged in trying exoteric practices with the final goal of building an “Inner Temple” and elevating towards the Light.
Finally, Gangi is the birthplace of two great painters of the 1600s, both nicknamed “Zoppo di Gangi”: Gaspare Vazzano and Giuseppe Salerno.
Beauty here comes in many shapes, layered over history in a wonderful maze.