Geraci Siculo: the balcony on the Madonie.

Detail of the floating balcony
Salto dei Ventimiglia
Geraci Siculo Il balcone sulle Madonie
Detail of Geraci Siculo

Geraci Siculo, also know as the “Balcony on the Madonie”, is a medieval village, located in the province of Palermo.

At an altitude of 1077 meters, it offers a spectacular view above the Madonie Regional Park and constitutes an ideal starting point for exploring the naturalistic area, along its hiking trails.

The name “Geraci” dates back to the Greek colonization, in 550 BC and comes from the Greek word Jerax, meaning vultures, like the birds that inhabited the fortress.

Historical notes

After the first Punic war, the village fell under Roman domination. Later on, the Byzantines erected the castle, that will be fortified in the next centuries, until the Ventimiglia family will turn it into a military fortress. They left behind them important evidence of history and art. One of these, outside the urban center, is the Bevaio della SS. Trinità, a drinking trough with two stone fountains and four spouts pouring water.

Bevaio SS. Trinità Geraci Siculo
Bevaio della S.S. Trinita’s detail

Mother Church of Santa Maria Maggiore

Walking through the alleys of the center, you will come across Santa Maria Maggiore church. It was consacreted at the end of the 15th century and is an example of the coexistence of two different styles: the Romanesque exterior, with the simplicity of its shape and the interior, rich in marble elements, like the baptismal font of the wooden choir.

Chiesa madre Santa Maria Maggiore Geraci Siculo
Santa Maria Maggiore church

The church of Santo Stefano

This church is considered one of the most relevant, with its characteristic polychrome ashlars bell tower dating back to the 17th century. Inside the greek cross plan church, there is a wooden sculpture by an unknown author, depicting Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr. There is also a painting on canvas (1609), attributed to Giuseppe Salerno, “The Cripple from Gangi”.

Dettaglio della chiesa di Santo Stefano in Geraci Siculo
Santo Stefano church and its polychrome ashlars bell tower

“Salto dei Ventimiglia” observation deck

Il "Salto di Ventimiglia" un balcone trasparente sospeso nel vuoto sulle Madonie in Geraci Siculo
Detail of “Salto dei Ventimiglia”

Walking on the “Salto dei Ventimiglia” observation deck is a must-do when visiting Geraci Siculo. It is the only seemingly floating in the air balcony existing in Sicily and overlooks the Madonie mountains. It was erected right on the spot where Count Francesco I Ventimiglia jumped off with his horse over the precipice, while chased by king Peter II d’Aragona’s royal troops, in 1337.

This is why Geraci is called “the balcony on the Madonie”.

Historical re-enactments

At certain times of the year, visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy fascinating historical re-enactments, such as the ”Giostra dei Ventimiglia” held on the first week of August. During the week of Geracesi performances of games of chivalry, a parade in medieval costumes, as well as organize medieval cuisine tastings and music listening.

More events: “U Conti Cumanna” and “A carvaccata di Vistiamara”

U Conti Cumanna” is a full immersion into the Geraci Siculo daily life during the Ventimiglia period. People experience the local history, rediscover ancient crafts and the modus vivendi of the time.

Finally, an event held every seven years on the third Sunday of July, is “A carvaccata di Vistiamara“, that stages the ancient pastoral world. Actors dressed in traditional clothes ride barded horses from the house of the oldest among the local shepherds (the cashier), to the Mother Church, offering flowers, candles and small caciocavallo cheese animals.

Conclusions

A walk through the streets of the historic center is enough to understand why this village was ranked third in the tv program “Borgo dei borghi 2021“. The municipality of Geraci Siculo and the London company “Its for Sicily” enhanced an agreement to make it revive. The main aim is selling the now uninhabited and ruined houses of the historic center at the symbolic price of one euro.

You might also be interested in reading about Campofelice di Fitalia.

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