Fai autumn days are back, from Girifalco to Santo Stefano di Camastra: all the places in the heart of Calabria and Sicily


By John

On Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 October 2023, the FAI Autumn Days return for the twelfth edition: special visits will be offered, with free contribution, in 700 places in over 350 cities in Italyoften inaccessible or simply unusual, original, curious, little known and valued.

In addition to the places of knowledge (among the openings of this edition, in fact, 11 universities and up to 32 places of education stand out in particular), it will be possible to visit historic buildings, villas, churches, castles, but also examples of industrial archeology , artisan workshops and production sites. And again: museums, art collections, archaeological areas, libraries. Furthermore, itineraries in villages and routes in naturalistic areas, urban parks, botanical gardens and historic gardens will be planned. Anyone wishing to participate will be asked to make a free contribution, which will support the mission and activities of FAI.

Among the most interesting openings, Fai reports, In CalabriaGirifalco with the building that housed the psychiatric hospital and its historical archive. In Sicilyhowever, San Giovanni degli Eremiti and the Rai regional headquarters in Palermo, an ‘Itinerary of legality’ will be organized in Corleone, in Catania the Vincenzo Bellini Musical Institute and Villa Cutore Recupero will be open to visitors, the Trabia Tallarita mining complex in Sommatino, the bunkers and casemates of Ponte Dirillo in Gela and the Radicepura Botanical Park in Giarre.

In Messina will be able to benefit from the opening of five sites, three in the city and two in the province.
In the city center it will be possible to visit two structures, normally open, which bear witness to the great work carried out by Sant’Annibale Maria di Francia: the Basilica Sanctuary of Sant’Antonio da Padova, together with the Avignone museum, with the ex-voto rooms and the findings of S. Annibale including the Crucifix of Saint Anthony, recently relocated after a restoration carried out by the Superintendency of Cultural Heritage of the city of Messina, which allowed to return to public use a work of great devotional value and at the same time unique in the context of Sicilian Renaissance sculpture. And again the Church of the Holy Spirit, with its marble and its sparkling colours, a rare example of the Messina baroque, and the Cloister, which in 1998 was, after careful research, brought to light from the ancient stone walls of the monastery, together with two other rooms defined as chambers . The church of the Holy Spirit founded together with the monastery in 1291, was embellished over time thanks to the works of great artists: the frescoes of the vault by Antonio La Falce and those of the choir by Giovanni Tuccari, paintings by Antonello Riccio, Giuseppe Paladino and Filocamo. In the 17th century the church became one of the most beautiful examples of Messina baroque, with its walls covered in mixed marble and stucco. Destroyed in 1908, it was Father Annibale himself who oversaw its reconstruction, commissioning the engineer Marino. Moving away from the center, a Minissalit will be possible to discover a place with a long history, a noria, a symbol of the peasant tradition and an important architectural and ethno-anthropological testimony, which even today allows the water supply of the Villaré agricultural company.
In the province, there are two places to discover; in Santo Stefano di Camastra it will be possible to visit the Old Cemeteryranked first in Sicily in the latest edition of the places of the Heart Fai, a place of the soul enriched by the artistic value of the ceramics that blend with the landscape creating a unicum among the cemeteries. Finally, in Taormina, it will be possible to visit the Victoria Gardens, accompanied by the owner and creator of the project Donna Vittoria Alliata dei Principi di Villafranca. In direct contact with nature, the visit will allow the discovery of Mediterranean botanical species and the bio-lake fed by the waters of Alcantara, a unique environment for the growth of aquatic plants and a paradise for dragonflies and damselflies, as well as carob, citrus and olive trees , to frame a magical place. The event is organized thanks to the availability and collaboration of the Antoniano Institute of Messina, of the Daughters of the Divine Zeal of Messina, of Angelo and Marzia Villari, of the Municipality of S. Stefano di Camastra, of the “united for the Old Cemetery” Committee and by Vittoria Alliata of the Princes of Villafranca.

The places of the heart in Calabria:

Former psychiatric hospital and village of Girifalco;
“Cybo-Malaspina” Palace (Aiello Calabro);
Aloisio artisan workshop (Aiello Calabro);
The Giants of Sila (Spezzano);
Garden and palace of Villa Berlingieri (Crotone);
“Mirabilia deeds and misdeeds: itinerary among protagonists and places in the history of Castelvetere (Caulonia);
The cisterns: the underground oil deposits in Gioia Tauro;
Casa Berto (Ricadi);
Walk among the towers and museums of Capo Vaticano… with Donna Canfora (Ricadi).

The places of the heart in Messina and its province

The old cemetery: journey through the places of the soul (Santo Stefano di Camastra);
Basilica of Sant’Antonio: places and findings of Sant’Annibale (Messina);
Institute and church of the Holy Spirit (Messina);
La Noria di Minissale: wells and cisterns on the ancient via del Dromo (Messina);
Victoria Gardens: a Mediterranean garden between tradition and innovation (Taormina).