There is almost nobody in Europe, and also in the entire world (I dare to say), who doesn’t know Italy and it’s bigger island, Sicily.
But, not everybody is aware of the amazing landscapes and beautiful small towns of the center of Sicily, just waiting for being discovered and admired. I will try to help in this process, by writing of a tiny shining jewel on the top of Erei’s mounts in Sicily: AIDONE.
How to reach the town
Aidone is not easy to reach, but as all the good things, it’s worth the try. From Catania airport there is a bus who connects the town three times per day, and the journey takes two hours ( http://www.interbus.it/).
Bus is the only public transport available in this part of Sicily, but it’s is also possible to rent a car in the airport and transform the journey into a On The Road adventure. Anyway, the car is not essential in the town, but it’s a good idea for travelling around in the neighborhood.
For the accommodation, there are a lot of nice and cheap Bed&Breakfast, where it’s easy to feel the hospitality and the warmth of the inhabitants…the feeling is to be at home!
Aidone was an Arabic village, back in the X century, than conquered and refounded by Normans. It’s built un on a hill, and in the highest point there are still the ruins of the Norman castle . What is important to say about this town is that is nice to visit in all his corners. There are a lot of ancient and beautiful churches, such as the church of Saint Vincent Ferreri, but known by everyone in the town as the Saint Dominic church. It’s now deconsecrated, so visible just from the outside, that is outstanding. The decoration of the façade is pretty unique, it looks covered in stones shaped as points of diamonds. The church overlook a small piazza, that’s adorable, with one of the best view of the town. In effect Aidone is also called “The Balcony of Sicily” because it is possible to enjoy an incredible view from all the points of the town facing east. What you will see is all the Catania’s plain, with mount Etna (Sicilia’s volcano) and, in clear days, also the sea at the horizon . The best perspective of this “Belvedere” is along the public garden, the green part of the town, close to car traffic during summer.
Just walking it’s possible to explore all the town, that reserves interesting surprises to anyone who is willing to venture out to the touristic itinerary. A place to which I am particularly fond, it’s a quite e nice corner pretty hidden. It’s just near the ruins of a church, Saint Michel, and the presence of few trees and a bench make the perfect place for meditating or reading a book. All again with the beautiful view of the landscape.
In the center of Aidone there is the main square, Filippo Cordova’s, where you can find the almost all the Bar and the old men of the town playing card games in the morning, and the main pub and all the young people in the evenings.
Culture and archeology
As all the entire Sicily, also Aidone is full of culture and history. As a land of cultural crossroads, one of the most important evidence is given by archeological remains. In ancient times, at just 2 km from the modern town, indigenous population founded a city, than conquered and refounded by Greeks. it was around the VI century B.C., and the city was called Morgantina. The archeological site now is a “must see” while visiting Aidone. It’s big and complex, with a lot of elements suggesting how rich and powerful was the ancient city in Greek times. Even if someone is not interested in archeology, walking by the site is a beautiful view and an amazing experience. During summer in the Greek theatre are usually put on live performance, for the theatre lovers, and for those who are curious to see how was the life in the ancient site, in August almost all the citizenship of Aidone takes part at the recall of the Greek Morgantina called “Morgantina live again”. If you always wondered how do they dressed in ancient times, or how do they worked, or what do they ate or drank, this is the right occasion to find out.
Back to the issue of the cultural heritage, up in the town there is the archeological museum. It is hosted by the ancient Franciscan Monastery of the town, and preserve for the visitors pretty interesting pieces. During the first years of excavation in Morgantina’s site, clandestine excavators found and stole amazing and priceless finds, that after going in the black market arrived in some USA museum. Few year ago we fought to have them back, and now they are in Aidone. So you can find for exemple, wandering in the museum rooms, the statue of the so-called Venus, came back from the Getty museum in Malibu.
Food fun and folklore
Living and visiting Aidone is not only history and art (find it boring?). The town has a lot of folkloristic traditions, that go from religious festivals, to carnival, to food festivals.
As all the small realities in Sicily, Christian traditions are fundamental, and this is why between the most important festivals in Aidone there is the Easter week. Every day there is something arranged, until the great procession of the Friday night and the big party after the resurrection of Christ on Sunday noon.
Where to eat? It’ll be spoiled for choice. There are plenty of possibility for all the budgets. Street food is pretty good, and you can find the Sicilian specialties, such as the “arancino” (fried rice ball with Bolognese sauce inside), or the “Cannolo” (sweet fried biscuit filled with ricotta cheese). Or also Aidone’s specialties, such as “brucellati” (biscuit filled with figs) or “giamelle” (sort of sweet bread). Thanks to the agriculture and the breeding, we have raw material of the finest quality, and this is pretty much evident in the high level restaurants we have. Go and try the typical meals, you will never forget the experience!!!
Last but not least: night life!!! Let’s say the truth. It’s a small town of nearly 4000 inhabitants. Most of them are already over the age to go to the disco. And there is no disco, anyway. But, even if there is just one pub, in the main square, young people from Aidone knows how to have fun. Spending a Friday or a Saturday night in the town can be an experience both relaxing and exciting, but something to do for sure! And what I personally can say, and I am not afraid to, is that in tha pub they serve the Best Margarita I’ve ever tried! And I travelled a lot!
So, go to see Aidone. Enjoy the true face of Sicily!!!