A frontier between the Phoenician and Greek world, it was the laboratory of Sicilian viticulture from which the revolution of wine in the island began. Today it is one of the most known and appreciated areas for the quality of the wine story and the history that distinguishes it thanks to the commitment of some companies that have made Sicily great.
A territory in which the sky stands out with its colors, the earth with its products, the sea with its smells, which maintains the "value" of traditions, history, resources: wine, tourism, fertile agriculture, the coastal strip with a fine sand, the clean sea, the forest, fine craftsmanship, archaeological, environmental and natural heritage.
Menfi, founded in 1638 by Diego Tagliavia Aragona, at the foot of the castle erected by Frederick II of Swabia, on the site of the destroyed Arab farmhouse of Burgiomilluso, now has a population of about 13,000 inhabitants on an extension of 113 square kilometers. Fulcrum of the village is the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele III, one of the most beautiful in Sicily, which is reached through the Corso Garibaldi, on which rise the Mother Church (sec. XVIII) destroyed by the earthquake of 1968 and later rebuilt, the ancient Palazzo Comunale, the Municipal Library. On the bottom a fragment of the Swabian castle attached to a polygonal tower, recently restored, 18 meters high. today incorporated into the Palazzo Pignatelli (XVII century), founded by Diego Aragona Tagliavia Pignatelli, prince of Castelvetrano and founder of Menfi.
Not far from a necropolis, belonged to the ancient Sican city "Inyco", in the province of Agrigento, stands the city of Menfi, a charming town in the center of a large area gently declining towards the Mediterranean sea. These discoveries testify to the high degree of civilization of Montagnoli and the interesting role played in the economic and commercial and military policy of the nearby Selinunte of whose vast kora the territory of Menfi was part. Numerous finds (tiles, cinerary urns and wine amphorae) of the Greek-Selinuntine period prove the existence of many agricultural settlements. In the locality of Montagnoli, near the mouth of the river Belice, some burials and an acropolis were found, seat of a forest community - pastoral. According to legend, it could be the ancient Sican city "Inyco", the archaic seat of the kingdom of Kokalos.
Among the materials that emerged from a hut-shaped structure of the acropolis, structurally dating back to the Bronze Age and transformed in the 6 sec. a. C. in enclosure (storage), there are some hoes of current agricultural use, along with remains of necklaces, rings, fibulas, bottle shaped pendants and more. Agricultural products, in fact, are exported by land (on the way Selinuntia Odos, mentioned by Thucydides) and sea (where many amphorae have been found).
In the 6th century AD. C., an early Christian community was established where the village of Menfi was later built. In 650 B.C. the Greeks, coming from Magara Iblea, founded the colony of Selinunte and conquered the internal territory. Around 840, settlers of the Berber race cultivated the countryside east of Belice and divided it into "iqlim" (military districts) equipped with farmhouses. On the remains of a farmhouse, (in the place that corresponds to the current Piazza Vittorio Emanuele) stands an Arab fortress to protect the iqlim scattered throughout the territory. The Saracen predominance on the countryside lasted until 1093 when the Norman king Roger I included the countryside of Burgiomilluso (a village ubertoso) in the diocese of Girgenti. Moreover the abundant cocciame of containers, collected on the acropolis (amphorae and large pithoi), together with numerous lithic mills for cereals, document, with the cyclical nature of agricultural crops and therefore with the need for the preservation of products, certainly their marketing and/or exchange with the many hilly settlements, archaeologically ascertained and overlooking the course of the river Belice that in itself constituted, since then, the determining resource in the abundance and variety of production, at least until the end of the 4 sec. a, C.
In 1222 a revolt of the Saracen districts was suppressed in blood by Frederick II who destroyed the houses and deported the inhabitants. In 1230, next to the Church of Santa Caterina del Belice, a leper colony was built and was managed by the Knights of San Lazzaro. The same Frederick II in 1239 built a tower to encourage the repopulation of the countryside. Forty years later, James I of Aragon established the baronate of Burgiomilluso and awarded it as a prize to Corrado Rodolfo Manuele, who enlarged the Federician manor. Between 1316 and 1345 Burgiomilluso was subjected to various attacks by the Angevins. A 'heir of Manuel marrying Francesco Ventimiglia brings dowry Burgiomilluso.
The barony still passes in dowry to Nino Tagliavia, Baron of Castelvetrano. Two hundred years later, in 1549, the barony of Burgiomilluso became the county of Borsetto; the feudatory was Carlo Aragona Tagliavia. In 1606 the county passed to Giovanna Aragona Tagliavia Pignatelli, viceroy of Sicily. It is the beginning of the domination of the Pignatelli to whom we owe in large part the realization of the town with the characteristic of the checkerboard plan. In 1638 Diego Aragona Tagliavia Pignatelli ( who married Stefania Mendoza Cortes, Marquise of Oaxaca and grandson of the famous Fernando Cortes) established the lease of land to the settlers. This leads to population growth and a significant development of agricultural activity.
Palazzo Pignatelli and the Church of Madonna delle Grazie are built in the city. It is 1683 when the Act of Charles II, King of Spain and King of Sicily was enacted, elevating the Castle of Burgiomilluso to an autonomous municipality, thus taking the name of the Municipality of Terre di Menfi. Terre di Menfi becomes part of the Principality of Castelvetrano, which for almost two hundred years will remain of the Pignatelli family and collateral or related branches. Until 1812 feudalism was abolished in Sicily and Terre di Menfi became part of the royal property. The following year the City, by decree of Ferdinand III king of the two Sicilies, takes the name of the current Menfi. With the abolition of feudalism, the town becomes state property. The tower of Frederick II is used as a prison dependent on the Royal Justice; in 1869 will be granted in perpetual emphyteusis to the City of Menfi that will make it public mandamentale. Nel 1817 Sicily is divided into seven provinces that replace the ancient territorial district divided into three valleys and Menfi is included in the province of Agrigento.
During the Risorgimento the town became the scene of popular revolts by the Carboneria, which led to the siege of the Town Hall in July 1820. In 1833 Ferdinando II established a new cadastral district and the Cadastre of Menfi was divided into the territories of Bertolino Soprano, Bertolino Sottano and S. Caterina di Belice.
In 1840 the town became the capital of the district. At the principles of the nineteenth century the economy of the Menfitano is flourishing so that, to export products more quickly, are built: the customs boarding of Porto Palo and the railway that connects to Castelvetrano. Around 1842, the Town Hall obtained permission to embark and disembark goods, thus avoiding the economic hegemony of Sciacca.
In 1848 many Menfitans participated in the revolutionary movements. On the occasion of the Mille, it seems that Garibaldi had chosen Porto Palo di Menfi as his landing point, where he could count on the support of several Menfitans in contact with him; But, having learned that the Bourbon ships departed from the port of Marsala were going to Sciacca, he went to the port of Marsala. In the early twentieth century several public works were built such as the expansion of the quay of Porto Palo and a new drinking water pipeline that connects the reservoir of Menfi with the Favarotta spring of Contessa Entellina. In the second half of the 19th century Menfi took the form of a rich, populous city with all the judicial and administrative structures. With the distribution of land to farmers there is a great development, in particular with the cultivation of vines, artichokes and olive trees. The first cooperative institutions were born, including Napoleone Colajanni (the oldest), while the most important is undoubtedly Cantine Settesoli (founded in 1965), which is still the most important economic reality of Menfi. In 1968 the city was hit and damaged by the earthquake of Belice. The reconstruction has led to a great expansion of the city and the growth of economic activities both in agriculture and industry.
The district of Menfi is a territory very little known by the general public, but it is characterized by the peculiarity and integrity of its ecosystems and its deep historical and cultural roots.
Although the capital was marked by the earthquake of 1968, the gradual shift of the potential for progress and economic growth coming from those sectors that accompanied the development of the economy of our territory ( agriculture first and then industry )It opens up new perspectives for planning and spatial development policies through the increasing spread of tourism. Menfi is always, an interesting destination, where the traveller will discover "hidden" in the territory, many small environmental and historical beauties that have been preserved intact in their atmosphere full of Mediterranean smells.