Piana degli Albanesi (PA)

Approaching from the south, from Corleone, the little town of Piana degli Albanesi seems to hover magically above a mysterious lake. In fact the lake is an artificial reservoir dating from the 1920s (the only one actually constructed out of some 40 planned to solve the perennial water problems of the Sicilian interior), but the town is indeed strange. Its name recalls the Albanian refugees, driven from their homeland by the Ottomans, who settled here in the 15th century. Amazingly, Albanian is still spoken - you'll see signs in Albanian as well as Italian, and Greek: I noticed the Kalinykta bar- and they've kept their distinctive costumes - best seen at Easter - and their religion; they are Catholics of the Greek rite. It was in fact originally known as Piana dei Greci; the name Piana degli Albanesi is one of Mussolini's "restorations" (along with Girgenti back to Agrigento, Castrogiovanni to Enna and Terranova to Gela). In the centre was a large group of flat-capped, short, swarthy, wizened men - more so than in any small Sicilian town?

There's a nice museum where you can see some of the women's Easter costumes displayed - they wear black and gold on Good Friday, and bright colours on Easter Sunday.

For a view of the lake and the setting of Piana degli Albanesi see under Portella della Ginestra.


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