On my way to the west of Sicily from Mount Etna, I planned a stopover in Gangi. Just before I started driving down the volcano from Rifugio Sapienza, rain started to fall, and this soon got very serious. So much so, that mud and stones appeared on the road, which was covered in thick streams of water. While driving through one town, I hit a deep pool of water, and just manage to steer my car to the other side. A little bit further, an oncoming car stops me, and points out that I am about to lose my license plate. When I get out, I indeed see that it is hanging on one loose screw. I manage to fix it at a petrol station, and then secure the license plate with floss thread. When I finally arrive in Gangi, driving narrow roads full of water and mud, it is just getting dark, and I see a mountain of light in the darkness. I find a very pleasant B&B, and have a good night after a delicious dinner. When I wake up the next morning, my plan is to have a quick walk in town and move on, but soon after starting my exploration, I am seduced by Gangi.
First of all, the charming narrow streets, the houses built of grey stones, pots with flowers against the walls and on the stairs. The many, many stairs. Seen from the distance, it looks like the houses of Gangi have been poured over the top of the mountain from the sky. I now understand the mountain of light I saw the evening before. I criss-cross the medieval town, up and down the stairs that connect alleys and streets, until I reach a first viewpoint, from which I see the dome of the Chiesa Madre, the main church of Gangi. Below me, red-brown roof after roof, all seemingly stacked one on top of the other. When I get closer, I see the Ventimiglia tower just across the church, with a clock and decorations hanging across the street. The municipality is housed in the building. I walk down the stairs and come to the small square. The Corso Umberto runs through here, one of the two main streets of Gangi. I find a platform which turns out to be a great viewpoint, and see more of the city below me: more roofs, more bell towers, and a sweeping view of the surrounding mountains, and roads cutting through the green landscape.
What follows, are hours of criss-crossing the narrow streets of Gangi, walking up and down stairs, and discovering always new angles of this town that I am falling in love with. It is the mixture of peace and tranquillity, the relaxed atmosphere, the inhabitants oozing happiness, the flowers, the remarkable buildings, the views of the surrounding countryside, and the fresh and clean air that makes this such a pleasant town. I walk past the church of San Salvatore, with its unique bell tower. I see the fortress, the oldest building of Gangi, which turns out to be closed. I walk past the fascist style 1930s school, on the Via Castello. When I come across my host, and tell him the crypt of the Chiesa Madre was closed, he takes me back to the church, walks into the office, and asks the caretaker to open the door for me. We walk down into a separate room, where we see dozens of mummified priests of the last centuries in their cloths, standing against the wall. It is a little eerie to see the skulls above their shirts and the skeletal hands sticking out of the sleeves. Sunlight enters through the windows, and the air is much more pleasant than the musty air in the catacombs I saw ten days before in Palermo. I have a granita with brioche, the traditional Sicilian snack, at the nearby gelateria before I continue my walks around Gangi. When I finally go back to get my bag and leave, it is much later than I had anticipated. Still, I stop several times driving away from the central Sicilian town, to enjoy the distant views of this remarkable town. I might even consider the €1 house offer that the city has opened, trying to revive the attractive town.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Gangi (Italy). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Gangi. Read more about this site.