Surrounded by an agricultural landscape, between Lake Arancio and the Risinata woods, on the slopes of the Adranone and Genuardo mountains, Sambuca di Sicilia shines.
The city owes its charm to the Emir Al Zabut who built the “Splendido” in the distant 9th century, a magnificent castle on a rock, which guards the valley below. Today, on the same hill stands the Mother Church of Maria SS. Assunta whose slender bell tower was obtained from one of the defense towers of the Saracen fortress.
The Saracen, who inaugurated four centuries of Arab domination, is depicted on a majolica wall of the casbah which he seems to guard with a proud gaze. The “Arab Quarters”, one of the most beautiful and well preserved in Sicily, is called “Li setti vaneddi” – I Sette Vicoli – for the narrow alleys that give air to courtyards with sandstone details. With the typical network of houses leaning against each other, the arches and ribbed vaults, the small doors and streets embellished with Mediterranean colors and symbols by contemporary artists, this ancient place has the particular charm of becoming, as perfect combination of history and art between past and present.
In addition, we can admire the magnificent painting of nature from the Belvedere Terrace.
From this terrace the view extends to Giuliana, Caltabellotta and the chain of the Sicani Mountains, extending over the dense forests of Monte Genuardo and the green valleys dotted with olive groves and vineyards.
On this terrace the cultural activities of Sambuca di Sicilia take place and “Calici di Stelle” is celebrated, a unique opportunity to taste the wines made by the numerous wineries in the area. The event is an expression of the culture of wine promoted by the “Terre Sicane” Wine Route, whose headquarters are in the eighteenth-century Palazzo Panitteri.
In addition to winemaking, cheese production is equally representative of the richness of the area, especially for its “Vastedda” del Belice, a D.O.P. sheep’s milk cheese made from the Belice Valley, a symbol of historical, cultural cheese production. Even the “Babbaluci”, snails, are a local excellence. One of the proverbs of the Sambucesi says: “babbaluci a sucari and fimmini a vasari nun ponnu mai saziari”, translated ‘snails to eat and women to kiss never satiate.’ In Sambuca the snail represents culture and tradition.
Gabriele Venanzio’s sculpture, located in Piazza Vittoria along Corso Umberto I, the friendly Babbalucia Vittoria sculpture invites you to slow down. It’s worth a try also the exquisite “Minni di Virgini”, a typical dessert of Sambuca. It’s form is homage to the local hills and filled with pastry cream, chocolate chips and candied squash. Made since 1725, it’s the pride of the pastry shops of the “Borgo dei borghi 2016”.
The town offers the visitor a journey through history and art and traditions, magnificently combining the beauty of its landscape with the genuineness of its products. It’s no coincidence that Sambuca has recently jumped to the headlines for the success of its “1 euro house” tender. Among numerous foreign buyers is actor Lorraine Bracco, who renovated her home in Sambuca di Sicilia for the TV series “My Big Italian Adventure” on HGTV and Discovery +. “Now I will be able to make olive oil, eat pasta alla Norma, drink Nero d’ Avola wine and live in a small town. These are the wonders of Italy! Do I have to tell you?” (L. Bracco)
How can we not agree with her?
After having visited the beautiful Sambuca di Sicilia, we recommend discovering the rest of the Terre Sicane by visiting the towns of Contessa Entellina and Santa Margherita di Belice and also the rugged beaches of Menfi and the coastal city of Sciacca, famous for its coral jewelry and ceramics. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the wineries of the area at Winery Tasting Sicily and their wine tourism proposals. On our visit to Sambuca di Sicilia, we went to the Di Giovanna winery for a tour of the vineyards, wine cellar and a wine tasting.
We can’t wait to go back to explore more realities and uncover more secrets of the Terre Sicane.