Buccheri, an ancient village surrounded by myths, archaeology, nature and good food

Buccheri, an ancient village surrounded by myths, archaeology, nature and good food

Buccheri, an ancient village surrounded by myths, archaeology, nature and good food

Curiosities about one of the most characteristic and ancient villages in Sicily.

Buccheri is the highest municipality in the province of Syracuse and the Iblei.

An ancient village with an area rich in archaeological evidence that dates back to the presence of man in the archaic age with a series of pastoral huts built with megalithic techniques, with the Cave of St. Nicholas, a church dug into the rock from the Christian era, with frescoes still partly visible. The myth tells that here the shepherd Dafni grazed his herds and those of the gods, to the sound of the flute.

Lying on the slopes of Mount Lauro (987 m above sea level), it saw Siculi, Romans, Byzantines and Arabs settle in its territory. But it was the Normans who developed it by building a fortified castle on the Terreo hill with two towers and a keep of which important finds are still visible today.

The Paternòs were the first lords of Buccheri, who took possession of it in 1088. In 1282 the village, which had already developed around the castle, passed to Alaimo di Lentini, protagonist of the Sicilian Vepri, who resided there together with the chat wife Macalda di Scaletta. The fiefdom then passed to the Montalto family.

The first baron of Buccheri was Gerardo Montalto, invested in 1313. After two centuries the lordship of the town passed to the Morra family, and from this to the Alliata-Villafranca, who governed until the early 1800s.

The village of Buccheri was almost completely destroyed by the terrifying earthquake of 1693, and was later rebuilt in the valley below, changing the orientation of the churches and remaining faithful to the geometric scheme of the Baroque.

To the north we find the church of S. Antonio located at the top of a long and spectacular staircase, it stands out among the houses and historic buildings of the village with a high façade adorned with columns with the bell tower in the centre.

An engraving on a corner placed on the apse dates its construction in 1212.

The three-nave interior with columns that form the basis of round arches is decorated with stucco work by Gianforma and many paintings including two paintings by Guglielmo Borremans, a white marble altarpiece with biblical scenes from the end of the 16th century . The presbytery chair, the choir and the pulpit are by Domenico Avola. The statue of Saint Anthony from 1743, which is still carried in procession today, is by Michelangelo Di Giacomo.

To the east, a gem of Sicilian baroque architecture: the church of S. Maria Maddalena, was originally a small church outside the walls, whose facade is the work of the Bucchero architect Michelangelo Di Giacomo. Inside, in the right nave, there is the delightful marble statue of the Magdalene, sculpted in 1508 by Antonello Gagini. Other precious statues of San Biagio, San Francesco di Paola, S. Rosalia, S. Lucia, S. Agata and a 15th century wooden statue called U patri abbunnanzia (the Father of Abundance). And also notable paintings from the 18th century and a valuable 17th century organ with 1631 pipes and still in perfect working order today.

To the south at the top of a steep climb, the small rural church of the Crucifix, a place of prayer and meditation that dominates the village and has always hosted Holy Week functions.

In the surrounding Bosco del Crocifisso there is an installation by Alfredo Romano depicting the Madonna facing the sky, and an ash tree about 200 years old.

To the west is the Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Grazie, a late eighteenth-century church where the Buccheri coat of arms was placed on the triumphal arch and the ancient altar of the Madonna dell’Assunta was transferred there.

At the center of this quadrilateral is the Mother Church, dedicated to Sant’Ambrogio, the Milanese patron saint of the town. Many other works of art including a 17th century canvas depicting San Michele, an 18th century canvas depicting Sant’Ambrogio, and a statue of the Saint by Gaetano Franzese.

A short distance away, the “Fountain of the Four Canals” made of lava stone which has continuously gushed water from the four masks since 1585.

A few kilometers from the center surrounded by greenery is the Church of S. Andrea, the oldest church in Buccheri which seems to guard it over time and protect it from the cataclysms that have followed. Built around 1225 by Frederick II in Rachalmeni, where an Arab community existed, it is a rare and admirable example of religious Gothic art from the Swabian period. Inside, graffiti made by pilgrims with dates from hundreds of years ago are visible. A legend tells that those born in S. Andrea were “ciocciu”, stammerers.

Also a short distance from the center of the village is one last naturalistic magic: the karst geosite of the “Gole della Stretta“: the result of the erosive action of the San Leonardo river. The walls of the gorges have a steep vertical development in some sections, while in other slopes there are Castelluccian tombs.

This magical village is immersed in a wooded area of ​​almost two thousand hectares full of pines, cypresses, downy oaks and chestnut trees, where fallow deer, roe deer and black pigs live undisturbed and where the only Iblei Adventure Park is located.

Passages between the trees with nets, ropes, Tibetan bridges, and ziplines of different lengths. A natural paradise for adults and children, with routes of different levels of difficulty.

In the Pisano district there are 250 unique specimens in the world of the prehistoric shrub “Zelkova sicula“. This is a shrub in danger of extinction, and therefore a protected species.

Due to its altitude, snow is always present in Buccheri in winter, even with accumulations of several centimeters.

Thanks to this, the village is surrounded by several nevrieres (caves or holes in which snow was collected to keep food and drinks fresh during the summer) which until the 1950s constituted a thriving trade with various Sicilian cities up to Malta. The collected snow was sold to hospitals or for the production of ice cream or granita. The cave, dome or dammuso neviere are still visible today.

Buccheri is the Sicilian capital of naturalistic and food and wine tourism, a series of events throughout the year enhance its historical traditions and its jewels.

Like the MedFest event where obsolete and ancient medieval cuisine dishes are offered among themed shows such as the Drum Festival.

Another unmissable experience to live in Buccheri is a walk in the wonderful woods. October is the month dedicated to guided excursions through the woods with mycological exhibitions and routes among the architectural treasures of the village with stops in the taverns for the tasting of typical local agricultural and food products from cured meats, olives, mushrooms, sausages, first courses with truffle or saffron.

Together with various typical products included in the MIPAAF (Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies) list such as Pani co Pipi – stale home-made bread softened with a liquid mixture of tomato extract, seasoned with oregano, chilli pepper, oil and eggs or the Cuddhuruni – Pasta softened with water, kneaded again and seasoned with extra virgin olive oil, oregano , chilli pepper and fresh basil, Favi Liezzi – broad beans cooked and seasoned with onion, celery, extra virgin olive oil, tomato sauce, oregano, fresh or dried chilli pepper . Funciddhi – mushroom-shaped dessert made with dried fruit, muscat or marsala, eggs, sugar and chopped mandarin peels.Olive a Puddhasceddha di Buccheri – Olives harvested at the end of September sweetened, crushed, boned and seasoned with garlic, fresh mint, wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

Panifrittu cu l’uovu – stale bread dipped in egg and fried in extra virgin olive oil with the addition of salt and oregano.

In Buccheri every month of the year is dedicated to an ancient and precious tradition. We mention some of them:

In December, with the Via della Luce, the whole village is immersed in the Christmas atmosphere with the life-size Nativity scene, the grandiose Nativity illumination, the Christmas markets, the fairy-tale Elves’ Wood.

At Easter, “U passiu Santu” with the representation of the Via Crucis in Sicilian dialect among the alleys and squares of the village.

Or the “Sentieri di Maggio” when every Sunday of the month you can immerse yourself in the nature that surrounds Buccheri accompanied by specialized guides.

For all this Buccheri boasts a long list of awards awarded to him over the years.

In addition to being part of the circuit of the Most beautiful villages in Italy, in 2015 it was named World Capital of Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and in 2018 Municipality of Excellence >among the 100 best Italian destinations awarded for the “Oro degli Iblei” project as the 1st Municipality ambassador for agri-food.

In 2021 Village of treasures.

Also in 2021 awarded the title of the most beautiful village in Sicily and by the authoritative WFTA named “Best Culinary Destination” as the best culinary destination in the world.

We could tell you so much more but we give you the chance to discover them…

We can tell you that in our opinion Buccheri is one of the destinations you absolutely must visit on your trip to Sicily, to savor the true Sicilian essence in all its forms and facets… We are waiting for you in Buccheri!

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