Comune di Santo Stefano Quisquina

Santo Stefano Quisquina, AG, Italia

Santo Stefano rises in the heart of the Monti Sicani, in the fertile valley of the river Magazzolo; born around the source of Capo Favara during the reign of Frederick II of Aragon, it was dedicated to S. Stefano because it was crowned by mountains (the Greek Stefanos means “crown”). Quisquina, on the other hand, is the name of the centuries-old wooded area that dominates the town (the name comes from the Arabic word “Koschin” which means “darkness, dark place”).
The first information about the village can be found in a document of 1279 where it is mentioned with the name of Santo Stefano di Melia, denomination that changed in 1863 when the village assumed the current denomination. But it was in the 16th century that, under the Barony of Ventimiglia, there was an impressive demographic and building development: many religious buildings were built (such as the suggestive Hermitage of S. Rosalia) and restored works such as the Mother Church, the Baronal Castle and the adjoining fountain with four pools. In 1812, with the promulgation of the new Constitution of the Kingdom of Sicily, the municipality became part of the new District of Bivona. The richness of water (today there are about 25 fountains) as well as the goodness of the air and the soil, combined with skilled hands and enriched by ancient traditions, have meant that even today the country has the most important economic activities in agriculture and animal husbandry. To confirm the quality and tradition of the products (cheese and meat above all, but also ancient grains, mountain honey, EVO oil. . . ) every year, on a weekend in May, the “Cheese Festival – Quisquina Cheese Festival” is celebrated: tastings, shows, demonstrations, markets and much more. Santo Stefano is a town particularly devoted and linked to its Saints: in a cave of the Quisquina in the XII century found refuge the Palermo S. Rosalia where five centuries later was built a hermitage which can now be visited with a museum and a sanctuary which is a destination of continuous pilgrimages. The ancient devotion to the Santuzza is proven on the following Tuesday, the first Sunday of June, when the whole town sets out at dawn to accompany to Quisquina on pilgrimage, on foot or on horseback, the Bust-reliquary donated in 1625 by the Senate of Palermo to the community of Stefano. The mountain village also gave birth in the 16th century to San Giacinto Giordano, a Dominican friar who preached the Gospel to Japan where he was martyred on November 17, 1634. Among the most modern traditions there is also the Rite of the Summer Solstice celebrated on June 21 at the Teatro di Andromeda by the peasant sculptor Lorenzo Reina: music and various suggestions for an ancient ancestral ritual.