Friday, April 01, 2016


The Sicilian village of Sambuca di Sicilia [Agrigento Province] had an extra reason to celebrate at Easter when it was named the most beautiful village in Italy in the TV Borgo dei Borghi competition. This result represented a hat trick for Sicily as Gangi had won the title in 2014 and Montalbano Elicona in 2015.

Situated near Sciacca, Menfi and Selinunte and with 6,000 inhabitants, Sambuca di Sicilia was a Sicanian stronghold and boasts impressive churches, a still discernible Saracen district and the remains of a Roman aqueduct. Its "signature dish" is minni di virgini, little cakes in the shape of a woman's breast.   

I've never been to Sambuca di Sicilia but will take the word of honorary citizen Laura Boldrini, currently President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies [lower house] as to its charms. Laura Boldrini was elected to Parliament on a Sicilian list and also has links to Sambuca di Sicilia from her former role as spokesperson for UNHCR.  The village has been particularly welcoming to migrants.

By all accounts there was quite a party there over the Easter holiday, with everyone making plans for the expected influx of tourists following the poll result. The villagers' jubilation, however, was not shared by the inhabitants of Cervo Ligure in Northern Italy, a village which had been excluded from the competition at the last moment due to alleged irregularities in the decisive online vote.  I have been to Cervo a couple of times and can confirm that it is lovely.

Then today, less than a week after the competition result, this happens:  seven Mafia-related arrests in Sambuca di Sicilia. Oh, dear!  If I were a resident of Cervo, I think I would be even more unhappy and if I were the Mayor of Sambuca di Sicila I would be wondering how on earth I was going to get my village out of this one! 

It is easy to criticise so it is perhaps worth pointing out that Sambuca di Sicilia is to be admired for granting honorary citizenship to this brave lady too.

Me in Cervo, 1980s.


Jenny Woolf said...

I might take the view that if there have been 7 arrests, that is seven fewer Mafia in the village. Am I right in thinking that generally speaking, the average tourist is not too much at risk from mafia in Sicily? I always thought it was to do with businesses and people who actually live there.

Not a topic that one particularly wants to discuss, mind you and I agree it is not really terribly good publicity. A pity as I am sure both villages are lovely. Sicily is such a beautiful place.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Jenny and please excuse late reply. You're right - no risk at all for tourists. Just bad publicity, though, as a lot of tourists come to Sicily from within Italy so thy are likely to see the newspaper reports.


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