Deep in the highlands of secluded Sicily: Longi

by Rochelle Del Borrello | Feb 17, 2014

Longi high in the Nebrodi. Photo by Rochelle Del Borrello
Longi high in the Nebrodi.
Photo by Rochelle Del Borrello

Longi is a tiny mountain village perched literally on a precipice with one road that leads into and out of town, in the province of Messina snuggled in between the rugged towns of Galati Mamertino and Frazzano’

Every time I visit I am amazed at how Sicilian’s were able to make their homes in such an unwelcoming landscape, it makes my head spin to climb along the road to Longi.

I would have never discovered this treasure of a place if not for a dear friend and Compare of my husband’s who is from this adorable little town. Sicilian’s often use the word Compare (you may recognize the term from the Godfather movies) to describe a close family friend, usually who has baptized your child or been a best man at your wedding, which are both considered great honors and automatically make a Compare or the feminine equivalent Comare part of the family.

Our Compare from Longi has known my husband since high school and my husband was his best man. It is thanks to him and his family that we often make trips up into the mountains to admire the contrasts in the landscape from the lush grazing lands of the tablelands in between the forests that stretch out from the highest town site in Sicily, Floresta (1275 a.s.l) down to the outskirts of Longi where everything becomes harsh and rocky. This area is filled with the spirits and stories of brigands, secret highway men hideouts, ancient family feuds and vendettas.

Over the years we have discovered Longi’s version of St Leone (yes Longi has chosen the same patron as Sinagra), who is proudly paraded through the streets in a traditional procession for the 20th February, where the Longitani pull him along with decorative ropes, pinning monetary offers on decorative ribbons, adorning him with shafts of wheat, fresh flowers and playing him some music thanks to the bells they hang from his float. Instead of ‘Viva Santu Liu’ at Longi it’s ‘Canta Santu Liu!’

Santo Leo's procession at Longi. Photo by Rochelle Del Borrello
Santo Leo’s procession at Longi.
Photo by Rochelle Del Borrello

Over the past decade we have walked through Longi’s timeless main piazza and tasted wonderful locally made products from ice cream, to porcini mushrooms, goats cheese and attended baptisms and other religious celebrations associated with the children of our compare in the equally ancient parish church of San Michele Archangel (St Michael the Archangel)

Last spring we discovered the joys of the new Nebrodi Adventure Park established by the wonderful entrepreneurial spirit of the locals, together with a surprising array of bed and breakfasts and rustic Trattoria restaurants.

Even if Longi’s hold on the mountains appears precarious it is relatively close to the coast and is a mecca for those who love to pass their time in the mountains trekking and escaping the chaos of the overcrowded seaside resorts.

Longi is yet another tenacious Sicilian village who is firmly gripping onto it’s place on the map of Sicily. And thank goodness!

Rochelle Del Borrello

Here is a link to the Commune of Longi (In Italian).

For more Secluded Sicily and aspects of life in this fascinating island be sure to visit my blog Unwilling Expat. Feel free to drop me a line.

Rochelle Del Borrello
Rochelle Del Borrello
Rochelle Del Borrello is an Aussie blogger, writer, photographer and Mummy who lives in Sicily, Italy. Every moment has a story. Visit her blog at: Daily images from Sicily at:

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  1. Thanks for the nice write-up about Longi. I am first generation Sicilian, both parents growing up or born in Longi. I am going for 3 months beginning in June and will make my way there at some point, making this my 5th trip there. I’m hoping I have the time to go to the Archives. I will also travel to Calabria during this time to do some geneological work for clients of mine (I also facilitate the process for Americans obtaining Italian citizenship, which I did myself).
    Where do you live?

    • Great to hear from you and I am delighted you enjoyed my article! Wonderful to hear you are intending to revisit your families heritage. June is a beautiful time to visit Longi! I live in another lovely little Sicilian town in the province of Messina called Sinagra. All the best for your visit! Rochelle

  2. I will be going to Sicily soon and had planned to visit my mother’s familial hometowns of Montemaggiore and Alinusa. I just discovered today, the birth date and location of my paternal grandmother. Her maiden name was Barone and I was wondering if your Compare was familiar with that surname in Longe? The family story is that her father was a steward on an estate, location?, and that she could read and write Italian. I have a letter from a cousin in Palermo to her. She eloped and came the USA in 1981. I would appreciate any information or help you might be able to give me.
    Richard Pagano

    • Hi there Richard,
      The two towns you mentioned are in the province of Palermo, Longi is in the
      province of Messina so I’m not sure of the connection. Was your paternal
      grandmother from Longi? Perhaps if you give me her full name, her husbands
      name and if you know if her family had any nicknames, ‘sopranome’ or
      ‘inguria’ in the Sicilian dialect, as they were often used in small
      Sicilian towns as an easy way of identifying people and are used instead of
      real surnames.
      Barone is a common surname, I’ve heard of people with the same name in our
      area too, there is a family originally from Raccuja with that name. Also it
      could be a shortened aristocratic name, here at Sinagra we used to have the
      family Barone Salleo? Since she could read and write Italian this suggests
      she was probably from a wealthy background which could afford to educate
      their children.
      I’m afraid I can’t be of too much help as tracing family history isn’t
      really my area. Might I suggest you get in contact with Angelo Coniglio
      from the Times of Sicily who is an expert in Sicilian Genealogy, he has
      written some great articles about hunting down ancestors see this
      fascinating one <a href="” title=”Angelo Coniglio”>here

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