In Castelbuono to discover the essence of south working in a Sicilian village
29 December 2022
The magic and charm of the village of Castelbuono
Perched on a hilltop, Castelbuono is a town of around 8,000 inhabitants. It is located in the heart of the Madonie Park, on the slopes of the Milocca hill. All around are woods of chestnut, oak and ash trees while in the background the blue sea shimmers: in just 15 minutes you can reach the Tyrrhenian coast of Sicily.
The origins of the village are ancient. The area was already inhabited in the Neolithic period, experienced Greek and Arab domination and finally Norman rule. But it was the Ventimiglia family that made this village the jewel it still is today, when they moved here and built a castle in 1300. Castelbuono is a village brimming with historical and architectural wonders to discover, but with the slow pace of a village that seems to have sprung from a lost time. To give just one example: here, door-to-door waste collection, for example, is done with donkeys instead of motorised vehicles.
All the beauty of South Working in Castelbuono
South Working in Castelbuono has a whole different feel. Here, you can work from the hall of a castle, the salon of a 19th-century palace, an ancient cloister or among the display cases of a fascinating nature museum. These are the three locations available to remote workers who will find everything they need to connect. The added bonus? A jaw-dropping architectural setting. Productivity standards remain high while stress is swept away.
In Castelbuono the quality of life is excellent: no smog, chaos or traffic jams. In addition, those who choose to work from the village have access to a series of special discounts for staying here, for long or short periods, and eating in restaurants. This is a great opportunity to enjoy tourism without having to take time off work.
All there is to see in Castelbuono
Between meetings or at the end of the working day, you cannot miss the opportunity to see the beauty that Castelbuono has to offer. The Ventimiglia Castle is a prime example: built in 1317, it has been reworked several times over the centuries to the point of being a magnificent mix of Arab, Norman and Swabian styles. Today it is home to the Museo Civico which, in addition to its permanent collections - archaeology, sacred art, town planning - also hosts temporary exhibitions of contemporary art. But what will really blow you away is the Palatine Chapel of St Anne, decorated with Baroque stucco.
Strolling along the main street, stop to admire the fountain of Venus Ciprea, which dates back to the 15th century and is called Quattru Cannola by the locals. Originally decorating the Renaissance garden of the Ventimiglia family, it has stood on Via Umberto I since 1614. Two minutes away, along the same street, is the Matrice Vecchia, dedicated to SS Maria Assunta and built in 1362 by the same Ventimiglias who commissioned the castle. The crypt houses mediaeval and Renaissance frescoes. The Matrice Nuova, dedicated to the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, dates back to the 17th century. But Castelbuono has more than 20 churches to discover, one by one.
The nature around Castelbuono is also worth exploring
The Madonie Park offers opportunities to immerse oneself in nature just a stone's throw from the village, from horseback riding to walking trails. One of the most beautiful is the path that leads to the centuries-old trees of Piano Sempria.
Continuing along the trail of Monte Ferro, you arrive at Piano Pomo, where you will also find giant holly trees measuring 15 metres high. A very fascinating route is that to the Pollina River and the Gole di Tiberio (Tiberius' Gorges), high sheer walls carved out by water over the centuries.
Manna and all the delights of Castelbuono
Another real treasure of Castelbuono is manna, a sap that is extracted from Madonita ash trees. It is a Slow Food Presidium and there are very few growers who extract it from the trees, only here, in the Madonie valleys. It is used instead of sugar in cooking or as a glaze to decorate cakes, but also in beauty products.
At the table, Castelbuono has much more to offer than its manna. Try cacio all'argentiera, meatballs with fennel and testa di turco, a pastry made of puff pastry and cream that is traditionally prepared at Carnival time, but can be found all year round and served with marsala or prickly pear liqueur.
It’s time to cut out the stress and oppressive routine; Castelbuono invites us to experience authentic living, made up of things that are priceless and can only be admired when the computer is switched off.