History and itineraries

The food and wine tradition of the Terre Sicane is the result of a fascinating mix of biodiversity that enjoys a prodigious nature and an extraordinary culinary tradition inherited from the different populations that have inhabited these hills, in the Valle del Belìce.
In Menfi and throughout the Valle del Belìce the landscape moves on the waves of vineyards that draw a country scenery of yesteryear, offering the visitor the opportunity of a journey of discovery of a territory where the culture of vine and wine is almost as ancient as man. In the Terre Sicane you can meet the productive experiences of great historical brands of the island but also those of young winemakers who, with dedication and passion, have given substance to the wine excellence of these territories and the image of Sicilian wine in the world. The vines are those of tradition: Inzolia, Grecanico, Catarratto, Grillo, Nero d'Avola, Perricone, but also international ones such as Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Next to the wine there is also the table, with the products of an agriculture rich in sun, flavors and aromas. This corner of Sicily is a precious treasure chest: olive trees, vineyards, wheat and prickly pear fields, artichokes, vegetable gardens and orchards and then pastures and woods that dominate the degradation of the fields towards the coast. We find this landscape in the dish with raw materials of true excellence: from extra virgin olive oil to sheep’s milk cheeses, from fruit to garden products to the catch of a sea among the most pristine and clean of the Mediterranean.
Blue Flag FEE since 1992
Green Flag of Italian Pediatricians since 2005
26 km of bike path among vineyards, olive trees and clean sea
13 km of beach
Route of the Caretta Caretta Turtle
Artichoke Spinoso Slow Food Presidium
Wine tourism

The story of Menfi

The old town

The Piazza Vittorio Emanuele III is the fulcrum of Menfi, since its foundation by Diego Aragona Tagliavia Pignatelli. Right at the entrance of the Palazzo Pignatelli is the Via Garibaldi, once the main street of the town, that crossing other streets creates that structure typical of the seventeenth century, with very large compartments and internal courts. Parallel to the Via Garibaldi, there is the Via della Vittoria, formerly Via Popolo: a road axis that was outlined in the early nineteenth century, as a result of demographic development.

Piazza Vittorio Emanuele III

The origin of its current arrangement lies in the earthquake, which in 1968 demolished its most representative buildings: the Tower, which had been erected in the thirteenth century by Frederick II, and the Cathedral Church, built between the end of the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth century. The reconstruction of these two historical testimonies has given new dignity to Piazza Vittorio Emanuele III, which also preserved on the bottom the ancient Palazzo Comunale, and finally Palazzo Pignatelli (sec. XVII), founded by Diego Aragona Tagliavia Pignatelli, Prince of Castelvetrano and founder of Menfi in 1638. The new architectural interventions, both the work of the architect Vittorio Gregotti, evoke the ancient buildings respecting their volumetric dimensions, and are articulated as structures that, on the one hand, are protective of the surviving finds, and therefore able to enhance the presence without overlap, on the other hand they are suitable for current needs. In the sunny Mediterranean landscape, the width of the square has become, therefore, the place where the ancient tradition of civilizations that have alternated on these lands, from the Phoenicians, the Greeks, the Arabs, the Normans, drawing a place of peace from which you can enjoy a breathtaking view.

The Swabian Castle and the Federiciana Tower

The castle of Burgimilluso was erected in the hunting area of the lower Belice, where Frederick II of Swabia, in 1238, ordered the construction of a village on the site of the present Menfi. Surely linked to the initiative of population planned by the emperor, the castle, with its austere size, was born to protect and control the new town. On the other hand, in the description of the siege of 1313, the military character of the tower is outlined, which proved strong enough to resist the attack of the Angevins, despite the small number of soldiers of the garrison. The tower consisted of two quadrangular bodies leaning against each other, with an irregular octagon-shaped plan, and developed on four floors connected by a spiral staircase. The interior was divided into three covered floors to cruise on the ground floor and umbrella on the first floor. The terrace had a scalloped crowning. The tower was almost completely destroyed by the earthquake of 1968, and was rebuilt with a project by the architect Vittorio Gregotti that follows the volume of the original structure. The new building is accessed by a double entrance through a large portal that incorporates the fragment of the ancient structure and leads to the municipal services housed in it. It was then built a new spiral staircase that acts as a space hinge between the tower and the adjacent Palazzo Pignatelli. The external walls were made using a local stone, tuff, to reflect the attention that has been rightly paid to the characteristics of the territory.

The Palazzo Pignatelli

The Palazzo Pignatelli, overlooking the main square, was built in 1638 at the behest of Diego Aragona Tagliavia and occupies the area of the Castle of Frederick II of Swabia, which in turn had arisen on the remains of an older building complex dating back to the previous Islamic settlement. The plan of the Palace is divided into two floors with twelve vaulted rooms. The main entrance, on Piazza Vittorio Emanuele III, leads through a large door into the large internal courtyard, recalling a feudal structure. From the atrium you access the upper floor by means of an imposing marble staircase, which leads through the loggia above to the main floor. At the end of feudalism it was transformed into the seat of the Town Hall, then the Court and finally into a school. Recently a necropolis was found, just under the pavement of the Palace, dating back to a period between 330 and 400 AD: sixteen burial pits covered and covered by limestone slabs were unearthed. The acroma jug found in tomb 18, the only burial that had a trousseau, is dated back to the Byzantine age and therefore leads to the hypothesis of a later use of the necropolis. The structures of the Middle Ages were then set on the necropolis: the complex of materials found, among which there are decorated bowls spiral, fragments of protomajolica and those of Tunisian production of the type called "cobalt and manganese"appears to date from the central decades of the 13th century. It is probable that the structures highlighted must be interpreted in relation to the settlement of Burgimilluso, where, in 1239, Frederick II ordered the establishment of a town.

The Mother Church or Chiesa Sant'Antonio di Padova

The first construction of the Mother Church began in 1662 and was finished in the early 1700s, with a plan with three naves and five arches. Over the centuries it was enriched by valuable works of art, such as the wooden statue of "S. Antonio da Padova" work of the seventeenth century to which the church is dedicated, the sculptural group of the "Virgin of the Rosary between Saints Catherine and Dominic" of the sec. XVII, some paintings of the eighteenth century of friar Felice da Sambuca, wooden sculptures of Bagnasco and a valuable wooden "Crucifix" with cross coated silver foil, valuable work of the sec. XVII. These works are still preserved within the Church.

The earthquake of 1968 partially destroyed the Church and a long process of reconstruction and restoration (1984-2006) has returned it to us in the current version.

Its reconstruction, designed by the architect Vittorio Gregotti, predicted the rotation of the axis, now orthogonal with respect to the original, and the elevation of an environment with a single nave that incorporates the remains of the previous eighteenth-century plant. The altar, therefore, is placed laterally at the entrance on a longitudinal presbyteral platform, which enhances the presence of the ancient arches with paintings and sculptures that appear between the columns, the object of careful restoration work. Thus in the church there is the encounter between the new and the old: the cleaning of lines of the new highlights the role of architecture intended to enhance what was pre-existing. The ornate eighteenth-century punctuated by the rhythm of the colonnade, are matched by surfaces marked by orthogonal lines, perforated carabottino walls on the sides of the room, a ceiling supported by light beams, the four powerful columns, which are arranged in plan as imposing cylinders of pure geometry. This mixture of styles seems unusual, but in reality it activates a fruitful dialogue between ancient and modern, history and contemporaneity, tradition and future. The entrance was kept in line with the open space of the square, on an area slightly raised above the square, to highlight the role of the churchyard. The new church has a viable roof, from which you can enjoy two views: maritime, looking over the square, and inside, on the other front. It is reached by several stairs, one of which climbs up from the alley that separates the church from the Town Hall. On the three levels of which the building is composed there is also a library, the rectory and the parish classrooms.

The Church of San Giuseppe

The Church of Saint Joseph and the contiguous church of Jesus and Mary constitute the only religious monumental complex of the eighteenth century in the historic center of Menfi that has resisted at least the earthquake of 1968. The oldest of the two seems to be the one dedicated to Jesus and Mary, inside which are preserved valuable stucco decorations and an eighteenth-century canvas, depicting Jesus and Mary, attributed to Fra Felice da Sambuca. The church of San Giuseppe was erected in 1715, with a façade adorned with inlays and pilasters divided into three orders, the last of which, no longer existing, housed the shrine with the statue of the saint. The interior has a single nave, with a lunette barrel vault, and preserves valuable works of art: an eighteenth-century polychrome wooden statue depicting Saint Lucia, attributable to the sculptor Filippo Quattrocchi; an eighteenth-century canvas depicting Saint Eligio; a small eighteenth-century wooden statue of an unknown author depicting San Biagio and a large altarpiece with the Marriage of Joseph made at the end of the eighteenth century.

The Ravidà Palace

The Ravidà Palace is to be considered the most representative neoclassical building of the territory; it was made of sandstone, around the last quarter of the eighteenth century by the Ravidà Ferrantelli family as a summer residence and acts as a scenic backdrop to one of the streets of the historic center of Menfi.

The sumptuous façade, enclosed in a courtyard with mosaic pavement with river pebbles, is centered on a portico formed by four columns surmounted by Doric capitals, placed on a wide staircase, and support an elegant entablature with alternating triglyphs and metopes. Above the entablature a turret, with three arches on each side interposed by pilasters, covered by a terrace bordered by a balcony interspersed with pillars. The interior of the palace is a succession of beautiful rooms, originally paved with fine majolica of Santo Stefano di Camastra, inside some of them you can still admire the original frescoes of the vaults, with floral and zoomorphic motifs, as per neoclassical tradition.

The Church of the College of Maria SS. Annunziata

The Church of the College of Mary SS. Annunziata was built in the early nineteenth century and after a few years it was joined by the College in order to instruct the girls of Menfi in arts and crafts. The building, surmounted by the town clock tower, has now returned to its former glory thanks to a careful restoration. Inside there is part of a nineteenth-century canvas made by the Saccense painter Giuseppe Sabella on the model of a painting by the famous master Mariano Rossi. Unfortunately, the area of the building formerly used as a school is still ruined (east side of the building).

The Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Consolation

The Church of Purgatory was built between 1739 and 1769 dedicated to S. Antonio Abate, since 1947 it is dedicated to Our Lady of Consolation, whose nineteenth-century wooden statue is preserved on the high altar. It is also known as the Church of Purgatory, both because the current Via Cavour, where the building stands, was known as the Road of Purgatory, both for the ancient painting depicting the souls of Purgatory that was first placed behind the altar and now gone is lost. Of great artistic importance is a series of paintings by the contemporary master Gianbecchina: the Nativity, the Passion and the Resurrection.

Casa Planeta

The Planeta Palace was built by the Bivona family, rich family of Menfitani landowners in the second half of 1700. In the following years the building was enlarged, but it was at the end of the nineteenth century that the building took on its present shape, with the construction of the 1st floor (piano nobile). In 1891 Francesca Bivona, daughter of Santi, married Giovanni Battista Planeta, Baron of Santa Cecilia, of an ancient Sambucese family who moved to Palermo.  From that union was born Vito, who in 1893 married Giuseppina Benso Ferreri of the Dukes of Verdura. His sons Francesca, Carolina,  Girolamo, Anna Maria, Diego, Giovanni Battista and Maria Antonietta donated the palace to the City of Menfi in 1997. The palace that had been damaged by the earthquake of 1968, was restored and returned to the city by the municipality of Menfi in 2008. Today it is home to the Enoteca della Strada del Vino delle Terre Sicane and cultural activities dedicated to the promotion of wine and typical of the territory thanks to the initiative of Associzione Si.S.Te.Ma Vino, that since 2013 is also the promoter of the territorial promotion project ScopriMenfi

The Church of Our Lady of Sorrows

The Church of Our Lady of Sorrows was rebuilt around 1813 on the site of an older church. Inside it there is a splendid altarpiece depicting "the Lament over the Dead Christ" painted by Mariano Rossi in the eighteenth century and a wooden statue of the "Virgin of Sorrows", nineteenth-century work of the sculptor Calogero Cardella.

 Contemporary art

The earthquake of January 1968 demolished the architectural memory of Menfi and all the villages of the Valle del Belìce; strong was the impulse of the community in wanting to rebuild the country, also through artistic works that were symbol of the cultural rebirth of the territory.

The Gate of the Sun

At the North entrance of Menfi was built the Sun Gate, which immediately became the emblem of the new city. It was designed by the architect Vincenzo Calandra "in the idea of an auroral image that introduces the gaze into the new Menfi ".The monument is developed on two dimensions: in plan and constituted by a central "sphere" and by a contour of rays, in elevation, instead, it extends on a wall with the upper part radiated.The sixth, proportioned, in a central way with respect to the "sphere" leaves an arched area from which intrados augelli spray water transforming the ingenious symbol of the city in a spectacular fountain.

The Church of Madonna del Soccorso

The Church dedicated to Our Lady of Help, no longer existing, was built in 1837 for the cooperation of many faithful. It was built on the extreme northern outskirts of Menfi, on the current Via Boccaccio, where there seems to have been an ancient votive shrine dedicated to the Madonna del Soccorso, home to a rooted popular cult. The memory of this edicule, received through stories, and another votive shrine dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel, placed on the same ancient Trazzera, seems motivated by the belief of devotees that these Saints, with their signs (the mace of the Madonna crushing demons and the sword of St. Michael), could repel the snares of evil outside the town.

The earthquake of January 1968 severely damaged the Church, barbarously demolished in 1969.

The new building, designed by the Milanese architect Antonino Palmeri, with the characteristic triangular shape, symbolic expression of the SS. Trinità, was built in reinforced concrete and partially covered in tuff; it culminates with a majestic structure that rises and transforms the presbytery of the Church into a towering temple, dominating the new urban area. Inside the Church there is a valuable nineteenth-century statue of the Madonna del Soccorso, from the ancient Church. In the presbytery area there is a large ceramic panel depicting scenes of the life and passion of Christ, made by the Milanese ceramist Antonino Di Giovanna.

The Pergolas Gardens of Inycon

The Pergolas Gardens of Inycon are located in the area of the new town of Menfi and represent a synthesis between the historic city and the new city to be understood as a city to be lived while moving. They were designed to be the central venue for temporary exhibitions, tastings and screenings of commercials on the theme of wine. The forms of the architecture are hard and essential, the surfaces are in concrete brut, the finishes almost non-existent except for the tiles of azulejos.

Services for tourism

I.A.T. Menfi Tourist Information Office

Municipality - Via Mazzini, 1 -

Menfi Tel. +39 0925 70401

Boat trips

Telephone +393384778636 - mail

Experience Tourism with Meet Sicily

Rental with driver Luciano Alcuri

Telephone +393333657983 - mail

Similar Taxi - Special Tour Menfi

Telephone +393470717688 - mail