Comune di Santa Margherita di Belice

Santa Margherita di Belice, AG, Italia

Santa Margherita di Belìce, a small town of Arab origin, is located on the border between the provinces of Agrigento, Trapani and Palermo. It rises in the southwestern part of Sicily, 400 metres above sea level, between the Belìce, Senore and Carboj rivers, currently with 6,031 inhabitants. The town was founded by Baron Antonio Corbera on June 2, 1572, with a “licentia populandi” granted by King Philip II of Spain. In 1610 King Philip III of Spain, with a new “licentia populandi”, authorized the name of Santa Margarita to be given to the new town. The Filangieri princes at the end of 1600, built an important country house (the Palazzo del Gattopardo) and later gave impetus to the village with the construction of several buildings, causing an increase in the population. The writer Giuseppe Tomasi of Lampedusa, son of Princess Beatrice Tasca Filangeri of Cutò, spent happy periods of his childhood there; he talks about it in his book “Racconti” and in the famous novel “Il Gattopardo”. On the night of January 15, 1968, a violent seismic event struck the town and the whole area of Belize, changing its physiognomy as a result of a rebuilding with modern constructions. The new Mother Church is a typical example with its imposing stained-glass windows and the altar where is placed a valuable wooden statue representing a painful crucifix that on May 9, 1993 was brought to the Valley of the Temples in the presence of Pope John Paul II when he launched the famous warning against the mafiosi: “Repent one day the judgment of God will come”. On the remains of the old mother church, on the other hand, stands the Museum of Memory. The products of excellence of the area are: the Ficodindia and the Vastedda del Belice. The main celebrations are: “the feast of May 3rd”, the Easter meeting during Holy Week, “Save your local language”, the “G. T. Literary Prize of Lampedusa” in August and the “Ficodindia Festival” in October.