From the Cantieri Culturali alla Zisa in Palermo to the Gibellina Museum of Contemporary Art, passing through the majestic archaeological park of Selinunte, the places (less traveled) to discover this summer on the road in the tricuspid island

"I do not envy heaven to God because I am happy to live in Sicily", said Frederick II of Swabia, king of the island from 1198 to 1250.

Sicily, a crossroads of cultures and dominations, is a multifaceted and stratified land, characterized by an overflowing beauty and by strident contradictions, where it is possible to get lost in the sunny streets of agricultural hinterland and find yourself in front of the dreamy civic sculptures of Alessandro Mendini, where just turn the corner to find sumptuous Byzantine domes glittering with golden mosaics next to opulent Baroque churches, and where it is possible to admire the sunset walking among the soaring columns of majestic and mysterious Greek temples of millennia of years ago.

From Palermo to Catania, from West to East, here are the most surprising and least traveled places not to be missed this summer, for design enthusiasts (and not only).

Palazzina dei Quattro pizzi at Arenella, Palermo

If you are in the beautiful and sumptuous Palermo, the Palazzina dei Quattro pizzi all'Arenella is worth a visit, so called because of the four corner turrets in English neo-Gothic style that characterize the unique architecture: "Last home in the hands of the Florio, one of the most representative families of Sicily, also houses, among its wonders, the collections of glasses and objects designed by Vincenzo Florio", says Daniela Brignone, professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Palermo and curator of I-design, the design week Palermo (next edition from 14 to 23 October).

"In particular, next to Vincenzo Florio's glasses you can admire the bottle of Bitter, whose recipe is still secret and in the hands of the Paladino Florio heirs; a version of the Bitter it was given by Vincenzo Florio to his friend Giuseppe Campari, from which, according to legend, the famous drink still on the market derives". It is advisable to book the tour: .

Palazzo Butera, Palermo

Also in Palermo, don't miss the eighteenth-century Palazzo Butera, owned since 2016 by the spouses and collectors Francesca and Massimo Valsecchi, where masterpieces of art are kept alongside historical design collections.

"Occasionally, three times a month, on dates that are not fixed but which are indicated on the site, it is also possible to visit the three halls on the noble floor of the building", continues Daniela Brignone.

"Here you can admire paintings by Annibale Carracci, Edward Burne-Jones, Sassoferrato, watercolors by painters-travelers, furniture from the Great Exhibitions, 18th century Ginori porcelain and early 20th century French glass from the Valsecchi collection".

To book the tour:

I Cantieri Culturali alla Zisa, Palermo

The Cantieri Culturali alla Zisa constitute an important aggregation center of the Sicilian capital, "a city within the city where the International Center of Photography, formerly directed by Letizia, is located Battaglia , the recently deceased photojournalist, some locations of the Academy of Fine Arts in Palermo, the Experimental Center of Cinema, the Institut Francais and the Goethe Institut ", continues Daniela Brignone, born in Palermo and design expert.

"An immense space, once owned by the company Carlo Golia&C., then Ducrot Palermo, manufacturer of furniture, including naval, and since 1936 headquarters of the workshops of the Sicilian Aeronautical Anonima Society (S.A.A.S.)".

A living and developing place, which testifies to its glorious past and looks to the future, with new projects for the regeneration and enhancement of abandoned areas: "Like Piazza Bausch, a new square inside the Zisa which will be inaugurated in three days starting from 19 July, and will be populated by street furniture made with the involvement of the inhabitants of the neighborhoods Zisa, Noce and the boys from the Malaspina juvenile prison; and Averna Spazio Open, scheduled to open in mid-August, a new center cultural heritage in an area of ​​2 thousand square meters, funded by Campari Group, which will see the participation of 60 students from the Academy of Fine Arts of Palermo led by famous street artists, to create murals in the redeveloped pavilion".

Gibellina, an open air museum in the province of Trapani

From Palermo, taking the A29 motorway towards Mazara del Vallo you reach Gibellina, a small urban center that was razed to the ground by the 1968 earthquake and then rebuilt, 20 kilometers from the old site, as an open-air museum, thanks to the foresight of the mayor of the time, Ludovico Corrao, who saw in art and beauty an instrument of redemption and rebirth, as he himself said: "Come to Gibellina, let us grow the flowers of art and culture in the desert of the earthquake, of destiny, of 'oblivion".

Walking through the streets of Gibellina Nuova it is possible to come across monumental and sculptural works by the greatest architects and artists, such as the Mother Church designed by Ludovico Quaroni in 1980, The Civic Tower by Alessandro Mendini (1987) which seems to guard the town square; up to, traveling by car, the Grande Cretto by Alberto Burri (1984-89), one of the largest land art works in the world, 80 thousand square meters of white concrete that retrace what were once the streets of old Gibellina, the town before the earthquake.

Also in Gibellina, a must is the Mac, the Museum of art contemporary Ludovico Corrao which permanently houses the most exciting and majestic paintings by Mario Schifano, alongside the graphic works of Renato Guttuso, Emilio Isgrò, Corrado Cagli, Nanda Vigo, just to name a few.

And again, the Museum of Mediterranean textures of Orestiadi Foundation at the Baglio is worth a visit Di Stefano , born thanks to the donation of its founder, Ludovico Corrao : an unexpected place, a typical Sicilian beam that inside it condenses the millennial Mediterranean artistic heritage, and tells it through ceramics, fabrics, jewels, archaeological finds, artifacts that coexist next to one of the most important permanent collections of contemporary art in Italy, among which pieces are include the spectacular machines of Arnaldo Pomodoro and the Salt Mountain by Mimmo Paladino which welcomes visitors outside.

The Archaeological Park of Selinunte, province of Trapani

From Gibellina, returning to the sea, after 40 kilometers you reach the Archaeological Park of Selinunte, the largest in Europe, a unique place where time seems to have crystallized in the 7th century.BC, when Selinunte was founded by the Greek colonists of Megara Hyblaea.

An immense and monumental archaeological area, extending over approximately 110 hectares, which is divided into seven distinct and articulated archaeological areas that give us an incredible insight into how life took place millennia ago, a site where the traces of urban planning, maritime trade, agriculture, construction, rituals and sacredness of the time are still evident, with temples in Doric style that towering mighty and mystical over the Mediterranean Sea.

In eastern Sicily, between textile factories, design and chocolate

"I recommend experiencing Sicily in the name of the discovery of a strong dichotomy between nature and artifice, a trait that characterizes the entire island" says the architect Vincenzo Castellana, Milanese by birth but Sicilian by origin, director of the Master in Strategic Design and Creative Management for Businesses at the Abadir Academy in Catania, where she is also a teacher.

"I would start from the highest peak of the island, climb Etna and look towards the sea, towards the beautiful Taormina with its ancient Greek theater, and then, turning the look, towards the hinterland, to discover a stratified and unique territory".

Among the stops less traveled by tourist flows is the area that goes from Gagliano Castelferrato to Bronte and Randazzo, where the textile district in Sicily: "In Gagliano Castelferrato, in the province of Enna, Enrico Mattei founded the first gas extraction factory and at the same time the textile company which for many years was the Lanerossi, no longer existing, generating an induction of small family-run textile factories, still active and open to visitors, where the highest quality garments are produced, such as Herno down jackets, in edited by Style confections of Maria Gullotto, and the Diesel jeans.

An area where you go to the discovery of authentic craftsmanship and at the same time you can enjoy typical dishes such as pasta with pistachio from Bronte, or cheeses and meat of the Madonie".

Looking from Etna towards its slopes, there is Catania: "In the city it is possible to visit the Orografie showroom, in via Milano 40, (brand founded by Giorgia Bartolini, with Vincenzo Castellana as art director, ed), while on the side of the Iblei mountains there is the coffee company Moak, structured as a reality of Brianza; finally, if you go down towards Modica, I recommend a stop at the Bean to bar Fattojo that I designed for the famous Antica Dolceria Bonajuto, a micro-museum of micro-production chocolate maker, where limited editions of cocoa bean arrive and in two hours it is possible to witness the entire process, from the roasting of the cocoa to the finished bar, a space that can be visited by reservation" (to book the tour

Design in Ragusa Ibla with Si, Sicily!

If you are wandering around the streets of Baroque Sicilian , and if you are passionate about design, it deserves a stop Ragusa Ibla, not only because it is still a destination (fortunately) not much taken by tourists, compared to the more inflated Noto, but also because here, among the narrow and surprising alleys, from 4 to 21 August it is possible to visit Si! Sicilia, the temporary space opened by Margherita Ratti, editor of It's great design, in collaboration with the Sicilian designer Giuseppe Arezzi.

"Yes! Sicily is a place-manifesto that already from the sign wants to reiterate that on the island it is possible to do design, in a more artisanal and unprecedented dimension", says the young Ragusan designer.

"Visitors will be able to touch and buy a series of my productions of neo-rural inspiration, such as the Manico chair formed with the handles of the hoes that recalls the simplicity of rural life, the Carrubba, the aluminum souvenir that takes its name and reproduces the features of the symbolic fruit of the Sicilian territory, a souvenir that among other things was chosen by the pastry chef Fabrizio Fiorani to serve sweets in the famous restaurant Duomo di Ciccio Sultano in Ragusa Ibla".

Among the novelties of Arezzi: "The suspension Fiscella, a hybrid and multifunctional piece, light and container together, with a large wicker storage lampshade reminiscent of baskets for making ricotta".

Designer items and souvenirs for sale at Yes! Sicily , in corso XXV aprile, 56, Ragusa Ibla, from 4 to 21 August, from 6 to 12 pm.

Read also: an installation by Giuseppe Arezzi inviting us not to waste water

In Ragusa, the Baroque and Neo-Baroque festival

For those who decide to land in Sicily in September, the ideal month to better enjoy the island, a must-to-see appointment is Baroque and Neobarocco, the festival curated by the designer and art director Roberto Semprini, from 15 to 18 September (with an extension of the exhibitions until October 16) in various locations in Ragusa, home of the Baroque and fulcrum of the eighteenth-century rebirth of the Val di Noto.

An event that invites the public to discover sumptuous palaces, former churches and theaters heritage of Unesco, to learn about Sicilian entrepreneurial realities and talents and to question the influence that the Baroque still has today on cultural trends and expressions of our time.

Farm Cultural Park, Favara and Mazzarino

The Sicily you don't expect. It is Farm Cultural Park, a creative community and a artist residence inaugurated in 2010 by Andrea Bartoli and Florinda Saieva driven by the desire to revitalize Favara , in the province of Agrigento, relying on culture as a tool for the regeneration of a territory often associated with mafia-type crime.

Farm Cultural Park in a few years it has become a destination visited by tourists from all over the world, an important example of how through art, design, project, urban planning, creativity (but also urban agriculture and food education) it is possible to restore identity to a place, redeeming it, involving also and above all children, young people and students.

An initiative that, since last June, has also had a branch in Mazzarino, a new cultural and creative settlement that promises to revive the small town in the province of Caltanissetta.

Studio Casoli in Filicudi, Aeolian islands

Studio Casoli in Filicudi, pearl of the Aeolian Islands, is the new adventure of Sergio Casoli, a historic gallery owner known for having opened his first gallery at the end of the 1980s in Corso Monforte 23 in Milan, in the former study of Lucio Fontana.

The gallery is located a few meters from the sea in the enchanting Aeolian naturalistic setting, is open to the public from June to September, and alternates its activity with residences organized in the remaining months, to allow artists to operate outside the tourist flows that crowd the island in summer.

Until July 17, the gallery pays homage to Giovanni Gastel with the exhibition It's an island, a selection of photos taken by the famous photographer who died in 2020, capturing images and emotions of his Filicudi, where Gastel has spent his summers in the last twenty years; and from 27 July to 10 September Studio Casoli dedicates an exhibition to the Scottish painter Peter Doig and his exciting paintings.

Folk by Magda Masano, Catania

If you are looking for an authentic souvenir, the address for you is Folk of Magda Masano, brand of furnishing accessories in ceramic, lava stone and marble, born in Catania as a rib of Masano Marmi, a family business specialized since 1960 in furniture and restoration.

A laboratory where materials, ideas and creative urgencies are translated into everyday forms, a space in which the entire macrocosm of Sicily materializes in the skilled hands of Magda Masano. The collections can be purchased in the Folk concept store showroom in via San Michele in Catania, a center that also hosts exhibitions and workshops.

Read also: Magda Masano's pop and flamboyant Sicily

Not.O, Sicily 'not ordinary'

Last but not least, the new brand Not.O deserves a mention, born from 'meeting between Ferruccio Laviani and the entrepreneur from Catania Felice Rizzotti, with the desire to create a design company with roots and headquarters in Sicily.

As stated on the website, Not.O is a brand able to freely express a creativity based on the local production capacity and on the intrinsic traditions of the territory, and at the same time interested to explore new and unexpressed currents.

The project, whose name pays homage to the suggestive city of Noto and derives from Not Ordinary, starts from Sicilian craftsmanship but reinterprets it through the eclectic and international vision of a talent such as Laviani.

"We consulted decorators usually involved in the execution of Sicilian carts or souvenirs to create the painting that characterizes the Ribera cabinet, while the potters of Caltagirone, the same ones who make dark brown or decorative pine cone vases, we asked them to express their virtuosity to create the tiles that make up the piece of furniture of the same name ", say the company.

A reality that traces a virtuous path, a synthesis of creativity, manufacturing and industry, for the numerous excellences present in the area.