In the Madonie Natural Regional Park there is a small municipality belonging to the province of Palermo with only 1329 inhabitants: Isnello.
Completely surrounded by greenery, the small town has truly ancient origins: the ruins of the castle are estimated to date back to 1082.
The surrounding mountains of Piano Battaglia represent one of the greatest skiing attractions after Mount Etna. Also from a geological point of view Isnello enjoys the underground cave Abisso del Vento, which is still only partially explored.
As for places to visit in the town, we generally suggest visiting the churches, some of which are very old structures indeed: the ruins of the hermitage of San Leonardo, just outside the centre, date back to 1182.
You can breathe fresh, clean air and given the absence of light pollution, it was chosen as the founding site of the International Centre for Astronomical Sciences, Gal Hassin, which is internationally recognised, including by NASA.
Among the things to see there is also a bronze work created in 1987 by sculptor Pietro Giambelluca, called ‘Madre Madonita’. It represents the symbol of the town’s identity, with which the deep roots and desire for growth and redemption are to be identified.
The ‘Trame di Filo’ Museum focuses on the recovery of the art of embroidery. It was founded in 2009 to allow the place’s rich cultural past to be admired. Isnello has, in fact, always represented a true ‘cradle’ of filet and filetwork.
The urban geological path was designed to use the route to propose knowledge of the geological heritage. Along the trail, you can admire the beautiful panorama from above and all the places we mentioned earlier.
Regarding typical products, the recipes are very old and have been handed down for generations. Sheep and goat farms give way to a vast production of meats and cold cuts, but also cheeses. Ricotta, caciocavallo, pecorino and caprino above all. The most popular dishes are ‘i tagliarini chi favi a maccu’, ‘i maccarruna cu sucu’, ‘a pasta ca frittedda’, ‘a pasta ca ricotta’, ‘i carduna in batter’, ‘a frittedda’ and egg balls in tomato sauce. The main desserts are ‘cuddura d’ovu’, ‘corna’, ‘aceddi cu l’ovu di Pasqua’, ‘i sfinci’, ‘u risu cu latti’ and ‘i cudduruna’.
The Sagre are beautiful folkloristic moments in which you can really savour the essence of a place. In April, there is the Festival of Wild Vegetables. Ancient recipes are revisited in a modern key and at the same time, knowledge of the local herbal and botanical heritage is spread. On 29 April, instead, there is the Festival of the ‘Frittedda’, a preparation of broad beans, peas, artichokes, wild fennel, and evo oil.
In June, on 29 there is the ‘Sagra delle Fave’, created in 1979, during which broad beans, potatoes, and onions are boiled in historical pots (called ‘quadare’) and then distributed around the neighbourhoods.
During summer, the Ricotta Festival takes place on the first weekend of the month, during which the processes by which shepherds produce both ricotta and fresh tuma are rediscovered.
In September, on 5-6-7 there is a patron saint’s festival dedicated to St Nicholas of Bari, during which there is a programme with concerts, shows and games. It is not a festival, but a noteworthy folkloric moment.
November sees the start of the real festivals, such as the one dedicated to Autumn Flavours. There is room for roast chestnuts, local sweets, grilled meats and even new wine.
In December, on the 24th, there is the ‘Luminaria’, which has been going on for two hundred years: a large bonfire is set up in Piazza Mazzini in front of which good wishes and gifts are exchanged even after midnight. The ‘frottole’, sacred hymns of 19th-century origin dedicated to the saint of the day, are sung. Eighty citizens are engaged in the singing, accompanied by the town band.