Montalbano Elicona is also part of Italy’s Most Beautiful Villages. Located in the province of Messina, with a population of less than two thousand inhabitants, it was elected “Borgo dei Borghi” in 2015.
The medieval castle that still stands in the oldest part of the village was even the summer residence of King Ferdinand III of Sicily.
Although it seems clear that it has existed for many centuries (there is certainly talk of at least the 11th century), to date there is no clear explanation as to why the village has this name. Some tend to attribute it to the Arabs, as “al bana” means “excellent place”. “Elicona”, on the other hand, undoubtedly dates back to Greek-Sicelian influence. Between the 7th-8th centuries BC, in fact, the Siceliotes, thinking of the mythical mountain of the Muses, named “Helikon” a place that coincides with the high ground on which this village stands and a nearby stream.
Among the interesting things to visit are several churches of artistic interest, although perhaps the most famous is the Basilica di Maria Assunta in cielo (i.e. the Cathedral) with its works of art. Inside, in fact, there are works by Gagini.
There is also the “Dr Eugenio Belfiore Photographic Museum”, where more than two hundred black and white photographic works representing more than a century of history of the town and also of the whole of Sicily are exhibited.