Calatabiano: the labyrinthine town with the curious form of history


Testo in italiano


In this episode: Russian and Romanian women; white horses and crocodiles; boiling oil and poop; fish and lasagna; mummies and Krisna


Take a look at where we brought you Jack: there is the sea, a volcano, a river and a castle.

Fly, fly high, dear four-legged drone, fly over the roofs of Calatabiano.

Here came the Arab traveler Idrisi who in 1154 spoke of the castle of Biano, Kalaat al Bian

We are in prehistoric Sicily, Greek, Byzantine, Arab, Norman, Aragonese etc.

Seen from above, Calatabiano is a history book under the sky.

Because history has always had a scent and  a shape.

A good eye discovers it right away: the sea from which the Greeks arrived in 734 BC, the river that has always been synonymous with life, the castle perched on a hill inhabited for millennia, the labyrinthine urban fabric of the town that preserves stories about stories and stories and, above all, the landscape that smells of events, of life, of ancient things.

That’s right: seen from above, Calatabiano is simply poignant.

Blessed are you Jack who can fly up there!

We are down in the village.

Two ladies out for a walk … let’s hear what they’re saying.

Nar Hi, what a beautiful place this is, is it true that the Arabs have been here?

She Arabs? No … Russians … Russian, Romanian women …

Nar No … no … ma’am I said once, a long time ago

You Well … I don’t remember

Nar Ma’m how you can remember!

She But I’m old it’s not that I’m a little girl!

Nar Yes but we are talking about 1000 years ago, in the time of the castle

She  Yes there is still the castle, San Filippo goes down there

Nar Instead you look Arab to me

She Really?

Nar Listen what are you eating today

She Pasta with beans

We continue our  walk


Look over there!

A typical Sicilian cart

Nar This is  just beautiful

He Thank you

He I walk around with it and every now and then they call me for some serenade or for a  wedding

A beautiful serenade, like Romeo and Juliet.

Get married in Sicily and call this gentleman under the balcony.


Now we are ready to go up to the castle: there are two ways, either the cable car or on foot

So then we will go up with the cable car and after we will go down on foot.

My goodness : we are a little down hill!

Who knows what the ancient people from the castle would do if they saw us arrive at the castle with this devilry.

What a view from here guys: Ionian sea and Alcantara river, among olive trees and prickly pears, which draw this picture of Sicily.

Over there, in  734 BC. the Greeks landed for the first time in Sicily, starting what will become the greatest power in the Mediterranean in the fifth century BC.

Men came and the Sicilians who lived in these parts,  started to run away from the parts of Calatabiano.

But the Greek boys ran faster and had to catch some Sicilian women.

From their union a new race was born: the Siceliota, Greek father  and Sicilian mother, who in the fifth century BC. will dominate the Mediterranean.

Then came other dominations up to the Arabs who gave a particular impression to the  town of Calatabiano, which can still be seen today.

By the way did you know that in Alcantara the Arabs tried to breed crocodiles?

Don’t worry, it didn’t work and then you can safely come and visit the beautiful river gorges.

Here we are up here: look at Etna, the great giant of Sicily.

We head to the castle, literally walking over 3000 years of history.

Jack Jackfly, our barking drone, embraces this book from above.

The castle has parts that can be traced back to prehistory and parts from the eighteenth-century .

This is a fourteenth-century hall.

Here is the fireplace, carved into the rock.

He Here they poured boiling oil to those who tried to get up here

He This hole was an escape route

He Here there is a tank for food.

He Here we are inside the tower

This was the bathroom.

I would say worse than boiling oil!

This chapel was originally built in the Byzantine period, 8th century BC. and still has frescoes from that period.

Look, there is something here: a Byzantine soldier from 1200 years ago.

We are in the highest part: what a view!

Okay, it’s time to get down.

Just below the castle there is this church.

If a rider with a white horse can read quickly what is written above the entrance portal , the ground will open and a treasure will emerge.

Therefore, it would be advisable to visit Calatabiano with a white horse.

The church is from the 1400s and there is a beautiful Byzantine fresco inside.

That is the feretory with which every year San Filippo descends recklessly towards the town, carried on the shoulder by hundreds of faithful, who in 6 minutes arrive from up here to the town.

Formula One stuff, with the poor saint who sweats seven shirts and can’t wait to get to the valley.

Irresistible as usual, for us, to climb the bell tower

Our tour guide rings the bell for us.

A breathtaking view from this splendid Gothic bell tower.

Come on, let’s go

We continue on this wonderful road that today, like thousands of years ago, connected the castle with the village of the people.

It is a very strong emotion that you feel along this millennial road, which has remained virtually unchanged over the centuries.

We pass by walls and watchtowers, walking through the very particular Mediterranean landscape: a pleasant confusion of colors and nature.

Everything mixes in these latitudes: trees, flowers, stones, insects and colors.

Here we are below.

We are in a typically arabic neighborhood even if the street curiously recites the name of King Roger the Norman, who was the executioner of the Arabs.

We walk

Nar Good morning, Ma’m, so by the clothes hanging there are two men and three women that live here

She Not really there are two men and two women

Nar oh  my, I was very close … Listen what did you cooked today

She Fish, with onion, tomato and garlic.

Uhmmmm … good …

Many houses are abandoned here in the town: with even 40,000 euros you can buy one, ready to come and  live in it.

Contact us and we will help you.

One alley after another, the smell of food that comes out of the houses and slips through these alleys.

The life of a family mixes with that of another in these streets.

Another abandoned house

Let’s go spy.

The stairway needs to be redone.

There is a nice balcony overlooking the town and the sea

Nar Goodmornig Ma’m do you know by chance how much this house is sold for?

She I don’t know, not much.

Nar I’m coming to visit you

Nar What are you cooking?

She Pastina

Nar  Can you show me your cottage?

There is a mess … please come in …

The lady, widowed, has her world in this romantic little room.

Sicilians are always hospitable and sociable.

Fly fly Jack, tell me what you catch from up there

What are you saying? There are two lovers kissing each other?

Let’s go and see …

Nar Hi guys, how do young people  feel to stay here in Calatabiano?

He Well … it depends if you want to do something. I am an opera singer at the conservatory, one would not say by this  voice because I have a bit of a cold

Nar Well at least you can find girlfriends

He You find a bit of everything in Calatabiano

You go up and down through the town.

Nar Ma’m  did you  make this?

She Yes

I smell fish, yes fish

Nar Who is cooking the fish, you or her ?

He We are the same thing

Here, too, fresh Sicilian fish is cooked

That’s enooough!

Now we are hungry

Questo leggerlo velocemente There is a scent trail of good food that is running away from that side, come on  let’s chase it and see where it takes us. Starving, starving, starving! Run run Jack, come too. All behind the trail of food! Here it comes from there, we go in.

Nar Good morning Ma’m

She It’s my pleasure to meet you Sara Samperi. This is my goddaughter and we cooked together for you

Hooray! Let’s have lunch!

Miss Sara shows us her house: it is ancient and full of memories.

She I’m embarrassed to show you this room it’s all messy

Sara paints, she is an elementary school teacher and she’s also a very good embroiderer

She This is my grandmother

She This is my father when he was 50 years old

The house is full of thousands of objects of all types: photos, minerals, dolls, books

Here we are at the table: Miss Sara has prepared various dishes with local products.

She I fried dried tomatoes with olives

She These are chillie peppers

She These are pickled zucchini.

She The Lord bless you who are my guests and the food you are about to eat

An extraordinary pasta, never eaten in all my Sicilian adventures: rigorously homemade lasagna, with wild fennel and beans.

Miss Sara also prepared  fresh bread.

Nar  What’s this?

She This is quince jelly, wine mustard

Inevitable limoncello and souvenir photos


Splendid Local

Vincenzo Ponturo, Councilor of the Town of Calatabiano

You have to come to Calatabiano for its resources. The castle, the sea, the beach, the village and for the hospitable people. Here you can also enjoy the medlar festival, in May. And do not miss the feast of the patron saint, always in May.


With a full belly you travel better

Jack resumes flying over the spectacular Calatabiano landscape

We visit the cathedral that Deva opens for us , an Indian parish priest who explains that Krisna is the religious leader in India but he chose Jesus

The cathedral is from 1740.

We go down to the crypt with the mummified priests.

Nar Deva where are you going to put yourself?

He No, already full, there is no more room!

OK let’s go

It is time to meet the terrible elderly of the place.

They tell us about all sort of things you will know more in the  episode of The Voice dedicated to them.,

We also allow ourselves a dance with these reckless retired seniro citizen from Calatabiano.

The heartbreaker of the group does not want to know to leave his prey.

Nar, just leave her, we’re done!

She He always hugs all women

Our day is coming to an end

And we conclude it alongside Alcantara, whose waters for thousands of years have undergone a sort of challenge with the lava stone creating beautiful gorges.

Alcantara caresses the western side of Calatabiano and flows a stone’s throw from the town, where there is a beautiful golden beach.

It is time to close the book: it was a really good story.

Good night



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