Polizzi, the “Generous” city
A book of stone that tells a tale of knowledge and power. A maze of streets, where it is really easy to get lost during your first visit, but you will definitely be enchanted by the abundance of colour, tradition and art.
The attribute “Generosa” (generous) was given to the city by Frederick II, to thank its people for the gifts he received. Even today the signs of the artistic splendour of Polizzi Generosa are still numerous. An urban fabric that stayed intact throughout the centuries, among the narrow streets and small squares that preserve the unique artistic heritage. From the Chiesa del Carmine, containing the wooden Crucifix and Ecce Homo, presumably belonging to Francesco Gallusca, to the 18th sculpture, created by Filippo Quattrocchi and depicting the Madonna del Carmelo. Impossible to miss is the Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie, known as “Badia Nuova” and the adjoining Benedictine Monastery, where you can admire the fine wooden case carved by the local sculptor, Pietro Bencivinni in 1697, and the painting depicting “The Four Archangels”, attributed to Gaspare Bazzano, known as the Zoppo di Gangi.
The Chiesa di San Nicolò De Franchis is one of the most ancient in Polizzi Generosa, built back in 1167. The ancient Monastery of Santa Margherita or “Badia Vecchia”, from the 15th century, boasts a painting of the Transfiguration on the main altar and you can also appreciate the marble statue dedicated to Saint Margaret, whose authorship is attributed to Domenico Gagini, and the painting of Saint Benedict Enthroned (1611) by Giuseppe Salerno. It is possible to view the ruins of the ancient Castle, which existed even before the Byzantine period, next to the ancient Palazzo Notarbartolo, and the Museo Ambientalistico Madonita (M.A.M.) where you can look at some specimens of the magically preserved rich fauna of Sicily and the Madonie.
The Chiesa Madre, with its Gothic-Chiaramonte portal and the wide staircase, is a veritable artistic patrimony, that houses works of great value, such as the 15th-century Flemish triptych by Rogier Van der Weyden depicting the Virgin with the Child, and the triptych entitled “The Visitation” made in 1519 by Johannes de Matta. On the main altar, you will find the statue of the Virgin (1508), created by Giuliano Mancino, and inside there are works by artists such as Giuseppe Salerno, Bartolomeo Berrettaro, Francesco del Mostro e Filippo Quattrocchi. In the chapel dedicated to San Gandolfo, a part of the 15th-century marble sarcophagus, made by Domenico Gagini, is still preserved and the remains that were once kept inside are currently stored in a silver urn.
Do not miss a visit to the Chiesa di San Gandolfo la Povera (1622) and especially the Chiesa di San Girolamo, which houses the wooden polychrome sculpture of the Immaculate Conception, the 16th-century marble statue of the Madonna with the Child by Giandomenico Gagini, and the remarkable paintings of Santo Stefano, La Madonna del Rosario and La Sacra Famiglia.
Inside the former Jesuit convent, today the seat of the Town Hall, you can find the Municipal Library “Lancia di Brolo”, first opened in 1893, where books and manuscripts from 16th and 17th century are still preserved. The town hall, already home to the Civic Archaeological Museum, will soon house the Museum of Costumes and of Toys as well.
Palazzo Carpinello, the churches dell’Udienza, di Santa Maria Gesù Lo Piano (1300), and di Sant’Antonio Abate (originally an ancient Arabic mosque) deserve a special mention, as well as the churches Santa Maria della Porta o degli Schiavi, and di Santa Caterina, commonly known as “Batiula”. Chiesa della Commenda, dating back to 1177, a work of Ruggero D’Aquila, was the first building to be constructed outside the city walls and is definitely worth a visit. The church, property of Sovereign Military Order of Malta, had the task of protecting pilgrims and providing assistance to the sick. And finally, the visitors will be captivated by Eremo di San Gandolfo, located in a Contrada bearing the same name, at the foot of the hill on which stands the village of Polizzi Generosa.