Racalmuto is the town of birth of Leonardo Sciascia, an Italian author whose works have been translated into many languages and who has produced world famous novels such as “Il Giorno della Civetta” and “A Ciascuno il Suo“, describing the contradictions of the Sicilian society in the sixties. Although his novels directly refer to the Sicilian reality, indirectly they address vaster contemporary issues. In Sciascia’s novels Sicily and its problems are often used by the author as a metaphor for more complex situations. The Sciascia Foundation boasts a collection of 5000 books, over 200 portraits of writers, Sciascia’s correspondence with the most important intellectuals in Italy after WWII, many photos and other personal belongings. The town has grown around the medieval castle, originally built by the Normans and fortified and extended by Chiaramonte in the 14th century. The castle is largely intact and is used nowadays for exhibitions and cultural events.
Teatro Regina Margherita is also worth a visit: the 19th century theatre is a true little gem, a miniature version of Teatro Massimo in Palermo. Several of the churches in town exhibit paintings by Pietro D’Asaro, a famous 17th century artist who was born here and who was clearly inspired by Caravaggio; the most important are in the Chiesa Madre and the Santuario di Santa Maria del Monte. The Santuario, dedicated to the Holy Mary, is also particularly noteworthy due to the 16th century statue of the Madonna by Gagini. This statue is celebrated every year on the second weekend in July: the festivities last for several days and are called Festa della SS Madonna del Monte.
On Friday canon shots and drummers herald a solemn procession which makes its way through the main streets of the town: the drummers are followed by groups of young people dressed in historical costumes and the procession is closed by the statue of the Madonna drawn by two oxen. Saturday is the day of the candles (“Cerei“, or “Cilii” in Sicilian dialect): the ritual procession is composed of three confraternities bearing burning candles and a symbolic battle for the conquest of the flag to honour the Madonna. On Sunday, during the Holy Mass, the population offers the Madonna various gifts (“prummisioni“), passing by the principal staircase of the Sanctuary. The festivities are concluded on Sunday evening with a triumphant procession which bears the statue of the Madonna towards the final fireworks on a festive chariot in the shape of a vessel.
Racalmuto: distance from Agrigento approx. 22 km.
Contacts of organizations and associations which offer tourist information and other useful services:
Municipality of Racalmuto: telephone reception
Pro Loco Racalmuto:
+39 0922949018 / +39 3201868786
Comune di Racalmuto: the coordinates indicate Santuario SS Madonna del Monte
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N 37° 24' 31.68''
E 13° 43' 54.63''