Campofelice di Fitalia is a small hill village, 29 miles away from Palermo.
It is not mentioned in the classic tourist routes, but not for much longer!
Nowadays, there is an increasing research for authentic scenery and contact with nature. Therefore, Campofelice di Fitalia represents the future of local tourism. While its quiet streets seem as though time has stood still, one will find its very much alive and buzzing.
Once it was used to be populated, but during the last century it experienced a slow and progressive emptying. Today it is inhabited by less then 400 people, but don’t be deceived by numbers and small size. Actually, they hide a great treasure of history and traditions.
What to see in Campofelice di Fitalia
Traveling around the world, I have learnt that the most beautiful experiences are not acquired only from the wonder you feel admiring a famous monument, but also from the wonder that slowly arises, when you discover an unexpected view, when you hear a story that you had never heard before, when you live an experience that you build step by step and that will become part of your memories.
This is the spirit with which you should visit Campofelice and that’s how, in this article, I will try to take you for a walk through the town.
As soon as you leave behind you the higaway, you will feel like being light-years away from the hectic life of the city. Driving on the road that leads to Campofelice, you could meet a shepherd with his flock, or a farmer on his tractor and will immediately feel the autheticity of how nature, clean air, and a wholesome life are intrinsic to the territory.
The main street, Corso Vittorio Emanuele
After about a 15 minutes drive, Campofelice will welcome you with its long and wide avenue, which seems to split the town in half. It is here that the points of interest are concentrated.
The main one is the only church in the town, dedicated to the patron St. Joseph. The Saint is celebrated both on the 19th of March and 23rd of August, when emigrants and vacationers flock from the city, repopulating the town.
The church dates back to the 1800, as well as the ancient polychrome wooden statue of St. Joseph, by the sculptor Girolamo Bagnasco.
In Campofelice, the clock of the elegant neogothic bell tower‘s chime marks the hour. Many townspeople will still tend to listen out for the bell’s chime to tell the time, or to call churchgoers to Mass. They will recount that it was not so long ago that the “campanari” would be the ones to chime the bells.
A short walk from the church, you can see the main square Piazza Umberto I, often frequented by the townspeolple who meet to have a chat, enjoying the morning shade or the last rays of sun before the sunset, while sitting on the benches.
Going up the street, right in front of the Town Hall, there is a pleasant and small comunal park, named after sir Franco Restivo, a politician victim of the mafia. The park is one of the few meeting points for the young people. It is very pleasant to walk along its paths and there is also a double staircase that I invite you to observe from the outside, to catch its scenic beauty.
The city of wheat
Let’s continue your walk along the street. At number 17 you can visit the Museum of Wheat and Sicilian Rural Civilization, which exhibits artifacts related to the production and processing of wheat and much more. The museum collection includes typical tools of rural activities such as plowing, sowing, harvesting and also home production of bread and pasta. Some areas are dedicated to herding and various craft activities of the past.
This collection is not the only one giving value to Campofelice’s rural identity. Some citizens’ private collections are also available for visitors. Their objects belong to a never forgotten past. These are the workshop of mastro Cola, the Richichi collection and the Cutaia collection.
Finally, the Heritage Museum of the ancient local trades records the work of the shoemaker, the barber, the carpenter and other forgotten crafts.
These collections will give you a realistic glimpse into how life was in Campofelice ages ago and highlight an important identity trait of the village, which in 2009 was officially named “City of wheat”. In fact, the main product of local agriculture is durum wheat, used for the production of the artisanal pasta “Giallo come l’oro – Pasta di Campofelice di Fitalia”. Periodically they organize tastings of this and other local products, such as sausage, ricotta cheese, olives and typical cheeses, like pecorino and caciocavallo cheese.
At the end of your visit, I invite you to go back down the street, till the Belvedere view point. Piazza Primavera is a privileged balcony with a view over the valley and from there you can admire a breathtaking view.
Among the streets of the village
Among the quiet streets of the village, you will hear ancient stories and smell the aromas from the kitchens. Here is where the inhabitants perform the daily tasks that tell about the Campofelice’s daily life. If you visit the village in the summertime, you will notice that people use to sit in front of their front doorstep, to spend time with the neighbors and they are also pleased to offer a chair to those who pass by for a greeting. Take the opportunity to have chat with them, listen to fascinating stories and meet the wonderful people who inhabit the town.
The ancient “borgo” of Fitalia
If you have found this visit interesting and wish to know the origins of Campofelice di Fitalia, just follow the road that starts from the “belvedere”. In a short time, it will lead you to the ancient borgo of Fitalia, from where Campofelice originates. I suggest either to walk or ride a bike. The easy walk will take about 15 minutes and will give you the chance to view a unique landscape, until you see the roofs of the Settimo’s ancient house, where the feudal lord who founded the town was used to live.
You can still visit the “baglio” with the remains of Prince Girolamo Settimo Naselli’s house, the small recently restored St. Nicholas church, a stone trough and the wash house for the beasts of burden. Nearby you can see the remains of the walls of a small presumably byzantine fortress, built to defende the ancient village.
You are now walking through the places where the Prince of Fitalia moved the first steps towards the foundation of the inhabited center. At the beginning of 1800’s, he ordered the construction of the first 40 houses of the first cluster. Then, he grant each of them to as many families coming from different places of Sicily. They brought their customs and traditions, creating a new culture.
Excursions near Campofelice di Fitalia
The surroundings of Campofelice di Fitalia provide several options for day trips. Pizzo Marabito and Pizzo di Casi are two easily reachable peaks from which you can enjoy enchanting landscapes. You can’t miss the remains that are a testament to ancient civilizations, such as the Arabic domination in Sicily. About these places you can hear stories and legends that fascinate every visitor. Learn more by clicking here.
Other excursions that are worth the trip to Campofelice are the quanat of Santa Domenica, the castle of Margana, pizzo Mezza luna, the Guddemi and rocca Busambra. We will explore other things to see around Campofelice di Fitalia in the next article.
After this visit, saying goodbye to Campofelice will not be easy. If you ever decide to stay longer, the Campofelice people’s welcome will not disappoint you.