by Rochelle Del Borrello | Feb 17, 2014
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!’
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.