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My eyes light up when people ask me to talk about my village.

I was lucky enough to grow up in a small village on the Nebrodi and Peloritani mountains, embraced by Etna on one side and lying like a carpet on the bay of Tindari, on the Gulf of Patti with the background of the Aeolian islands.

A natural postcard made of perfumes, landscapes, colours that meet you as you travel the road going up from the Falcone exit of the A / 20 Messina – Palermo.

After this first turn off, even if the road is a bit steep and full of curves, you reach almost 1,000 meters above sea level in one of the most beautiful villages in Italy: Montalbano Elicona.

Here the spell begins because arriving in Montalbano means entering another dimension.

It is no coincidence that Federico II chose it as a summer residence in the impressive Swabian Aragonese castle (XIII).

And it is precisely the castle, still well preserved, that was the driving force to safeguard and protect a historic centre rich in architectural heritage, historic evidence and natural beauty.

Here, especially in the summer months you can attend the various exhibitions that are hosted in the halls of the castle, the evenings of jazz music, and the numerous cultural events including the impressive historic procession.

It is a re-enactment in medieval clothes with horses, flag-wavers, court figures representing the entrance of King Frederick II of Aragon and Costanza d’Altavilla.

In addition, the evenings enliven the natural scenic beauty of the village thanks to the shows of fire eaters, archers, jesters and themed dinners, prepared with traditional medieval dishes in August.

But Montalbano Elicona does not only have the visual element, because here you can taste the tradition of local products such as the famous Montalbano provola accompanied by a bread made from ancient grains and mother yeast.

Montalbano Elicona - Foto di Alessandro Grussu

Montalbano Elicona – Picture by Alessandro Grussu

Another fascinating element is the Argimusco Plateau: the Italian Stonehenge.

It hosted the meeting of  Icham (committee of international experts for the management of the Archaeological Heritage) and Icomos (scientific committee of the Unesco Commission) initiating the procedure for inclusion as a UNESCO Heritage Site.

It is a fascinating complex of megaliths in multiform quartz sandstone rock.

An evocative show surrounded by unspoiled nature that flanks the equally interesting Malabotta forest.

Here too, especially in the summer months, there are arranged guided tours and excursions with the opportunity to watch the spectacle of the stars on the night of San Lorenzo.

Montalbano embodies the prototype of beauty in a unique model story, to be experienced directly.

And it is here that I return happily whenever I can, to regenerate myself in body and soul.

My corner of paradise.

Cover Picture by Alessandro Grussu