Castelbuono is a town at 423m above sea level, known for its cultural liveliness and its excellent sweet and savory gastronomy. The medieval village, which has about 9000 inhabitants, has the characteristic of being halfway between the sea and the mountains, so deciding to visit Castelbuono you will agree with everyone, both lovers of nature walks and lovers of sun and crystal clear sea.
A place that makes everyone agree!
The ideal time to visit Castelbuono?
There is no ideal time to visit Castelbuono, in fact, every season has some particularities that make it attractive and interesting.
Spring is one of the best moments for a walk in the Madonite mountains and enjoy the awakening nature offering wonderful views and colours. Summer is the time for festivals, for the sea and for long nights spent in the cafes of the city center. Autumn, like spring, offers beautiful woodland scenery, it is the ideal time for mushrooms and chestnuts lovers! In winter you will discover a still different town, with softer tones but enriched by the lights of the holidays, a certainly more relaxing visit but in which you could find some event in a winter version or maybe be lucky enough to be there when the snowflakes reach the village that appears as adorned with lace, giving the historic center that slightly fairytale air that few are lucky enough to enjoy.
How long to stay in Castelbuono?
Castelbuono is a perfect place to stop for several days and from which moving towards the numerous destinations in the area. But it is also an ideal brief stop during a more extensive Sicilian tour, remaining for three days to experience all its aspects or a couple of days to discover its main peculiarities. If your travel program is very busy, do not give up a visit, even if it is only for one day, you will be able to grasp the spirit and values that exude from its alleys and squares and that ensure that this small village remains sculpted in the heart of those who visit it, forever!
A day in Castelbuono
If you only have one day to visit Castelbuono then you cannot miss the Ventimiglia Castle, which houses the Palatine Chapel, a typical example of Sicilian Baroque, decorated with the stuccoes of the Serpotta brothers. It houses the relic of the skull of Saint Anne, enclosed in various grates and which in the days of the patronal feast (July 25th/26th/27th) meets the people of Castelbuono and all those who visit the manor. Inside this monument, from which the village’s name derives, there is also the Museo Civico, one of the most visited museums in Sicily, with different sections: archaeological and urban planning, contemporary art and sacred art.
In Piazza Margherita, the heart of the town, you will find the Romanesque-Gothic church of the Madrice Vecchia, with its precious polyptych and the sixteenth-century crypt covered with Medieval and Renaissance frescoes, but also the Clock Tower, located inside a building from the first half of the 17th century that contained the offices for the city administration and that at the end of the 18th century was converted into the city prison. The mechanical clock kept inside dates back to 1885 and fascinates the visitor for its complex operation with heavy stones and which every quarter of an hour marks the time with the tolling of a bell.
Finding yourself near the main square, the advice is to walk the whole street, with its fountains (note the splendid Venere Ciprea of the Fifteenth century) and its shops, but go also through the little alleys, among which it is nice to get lost having the feeling of never getting lost and where you will find truly suggestive views.
Finally, the Cloister of San Francesco, from the Eighteenth century, houses on the upper floor, in the premises of a former convent, the Naturalistic Museum, with an incredible collection of fauna and flora of the Madonie, if you do not have time to visit the museum, take a look at the cloister or have a refreshment break at the delicious café inside it.
A weekend in Castelbuono
If you decide to stay two days in Castelbuono you can follow the itinerary just seen but adding a visit to the Naturalistic Museum already mentioned and to the Church of San Francesco, which is located next to it and contains Byzantine frescoes but it’s also known for a splendid organ that is the oldest in Sicily and the fifth in Europe. Annexed to the church stands the Mausoleum of the Ventimiglia, an octagonal building which houses some tombs of the princes of Castelbuono.
A few more hours will also give you the opportunity to discover the nearby sea or mountains, depending on your preferences, in fact, just 20 minutes from the town center there are wonderful beaches (Sant’Ambrogio / Torre Conca) or some mountain trails , one of the best known, suitable for walkers of all levels, is the one that reaches Piano Pomo giant hollies forest at 1400 meters high, a real natural cathedral made of specimens up to 20 meters high, whose branches intertwine creating a foliage so dense that the sun’s rays barely filter through.
Three days in Castelbuono
If you decide to spend three days in Castelbuono, you will be able to discover all its corners, even the most hidden ones. You can also visit the church of the Madrice Nuova, built in the Seventeenth century and which, among the various works collected inside, houses a large wooden cross from the Fifteenth century and two altars with stuccoes by Giuseppe Serpotta.
One of the reasons that makes Castelbuono unique and known all over the world is the production of Manna, a particular resin that is extracted from ash trees only in the area between Pollina and Castelbuono. It is a product with various properties, used in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and confectionery industry. You can’t miss the unique experience of doing a guided visit to an ash trees area, where you can see how the extraction and drying of this precious sap works.
Finally, having one more day available, you won’t have to choose whether to go to the sea or to the mountains, you can experience both and you will certainly end up appreciating the fact that you are in a “mountain place” one step away from the sea.