Collesano: a town rich in history and culture
Collesano is a Sicilian town in the province of Palermo, part of the Madonie Park. It is a medieval center of Norman origin located on the northern side of the Madonie, at the foot of the rocky massif of the Grotta del Signore. It can be reached along the Palermo-Catania A-19 motorway with the Buonfornello exit, from here take the SS113 to the Roccella-Cefalù junction then proceed along the SP9 for about 13 km.
Under the Ventimiglias Collesano had great political importance, the feudal families stimulated the first cultural ferments, so Collesano became the seat of a literary academy in the 1600s. Over the centuries a vast artistic heritage has accumulated in Collesano which, even today, is preserved in the religious buildings; while of the castle, severely damaged by the earthquake of 1693, only a few ruins remain.
Worth visiting, both for the architecture and for the works of art it houses, is the minor basilica of San Pietro, begun around 1520 and consecrated in 1548. Today only a Gothic portal remains of the original architecture.
In the apse part of the building the ancient watchtower has been incorporated, the presbytery adorned with a cycle of frescoes, depicting the stories of saints Peter and Paul, made by Gaspare Cazzano known as “lo Zoppo di Gangi“; in the right aisle there is a canvas depicting S. Rosalia attributed to the school of Pietro Novelli, while in the left aisle, a Pietà by Picchinelli, a canvas with the Madonna degli angeli by Gaspare Bazzano, also called Lo Zoppo di Gangi “.
In the church of Santa Maria di Gesù it is possible to admire the statue of the “Madonna and Child” by Carlo D’Aprile and a wooden Crucifix by Fra ‘Umile Pintorno da Petralia; inside the old monastery there is an interesting seventeenth-century cloister.
In the church of Santa Maria la vecchia, located in the oldest part of Collesano, you can still admire a Virgin by Antonello Gagini. Then, in addition to traditional ceramics, handicraft treasures are inlays and woodwork, products that are recognized for their yellow and green color.
Gastronomic specialties are honey, ricotta sweets, “Miscufmu“, a mix of sweets, “cucciddati“, Christmas sweets and “pizzi cu l’uovo” typical Easter sweets. A typical dish is also the ghiotta, cod with sweet and sour vegetables prepared for St. Joseph.
Among the many, the carnival is very famous, animated by dancing parties with the arrival of masks from all over the area. The “Casazza“, the “Cerca” should still be remembered. Other manifestations, this time of a religious nature, are: the dramatized story of the life of Christ inspired by medieval lauds, which takes place over many years and the story of the Via Crucis, which takes place on Good Friday.
Interesting excursions are those to the Pedale abbey about 2 km north of Collesano, on the edge of the cork wood of S. Giorgio, located in Zone C of the Madonie Park, from here it is possible to continue to S. Giorgio (municipality of Gratteri) Zone B of the Park. Other itineraries lead to Monte D’oro, the archaeological area in Zone B of the Park; and in Casale Volpignano, reachable from the Mangiarrati junction.