Gratteri is a small town with just over 1,000 inhabitants, located at 630 meters above sea level, about 8 km inland. The town is a part of the Madonie National Park and it is surrounded by impressive mountains and beautiful pine and oak forests. The town enjoys a superb panorama of the Mediterranean Sea and the mountains of Le Madonies.
Gratteri has a panoramic view of the Tyrrhenian coast. Its territory, including the northern part of the park Madonie, bordering the municipalities of Cefalù (north and northwest), Lascari (northwest), Collesano (west and southwest) and Isnello (east and south-east). The first traces of the town originates to late Bronze Age or early Iron Age, the town appears to have been a trading center that connected the coastal population with the mountain population. The town, like the rest of Sicily, has been occupied by various powers throughout history. Here is the Arabic empire clearly represented in several important buildings – historically important churches and other preserved buildings.
The town has kept its authentic character, and here you find many beautiful, historical buildings, houses with stone walls, narrow streets with stone staircases, potted plants, cats resting in the sun and ‘signoras’ on wooden chairs knitting and talking to passers-by. Although the town is small, there is here a couple of really good restaurants, B&Bs, bars and small grocery stores, butchers etc. For Lascaris long sandy beaches, it is a drive of about 10-15 minutes. Put om some additional five minutes, and you are in the famous medieval tourist town of Cefalu.
Cave Grattara is located about 300 meters from Gratteri, at the slopes of Pizzo di Pilo on an altitude of 1000 meters. This cave, which probably contributed to give Gratteri its name, is located in an indescribable panoramic landscape. You enter the cave through a naturally made stone staircase that has evolved through millennia. Outside the cave grows the pistachio hedges high. During the windy winter months the cave give shelter to sheep that graze in the surrounding area, while it in the summer offers water to large flocks of birds.
The cave is part of the folklore tradition, the legend says that the cave housed the “Befana” – a dirty, eagle-nosed old woman with apron and worn slippers. The legend tells that along with the three kings who visited Jesus in Bethlehem to give gifts came another character: the Befana. During the night between 5th and 6th January each year, she straddles a broom and under the weight of a bag full of toys, chocolates and sweets, but also coal for bad children, Befana flies over the roofs and chimneys and fills stockings hung by children.
This brotherhood is a recognized association of religious layman, working for piety and practices for greater religious reverence. Its history originated in 1250, but was acknowledged in the 1550th They wear a traditional costume from the Middle Ages, consisting of a mask with holes for eyes, a full-length robe, and a banner that vary in color depending on affiliation. There are currently four different Gratteri confraterites, characterized by mysticism and religious worship. Their processions consisting of drums, banners, and representation of the mysteries in the form of four large candles hoisted on artistically designed poles. In addition, various symbolist silverware hoisted on poles. Anyone who wants to and is elected by the Brotherhood, have to undergo a two-year educational period. Members of confraternites always get a grand funeral.
In Gratteri are also other types of religious brotherhood, but the confraternites are the largest.
This traditional procession takes place annually on Good Friday night. It deserves to be described as of its religious and folkloric specificity. The tradition originates from the Spanish occupation, dating back to the early 1600s. All four confraternites are represented in the procession, carrying a Jesus statue. Parts of the procession takes place in silence, with only strong drums, playing about a powerful death. Other parts contain hymns. In the procession participates also the mayor and city council. All inhabitants in Gratteri takes part of this powerful procession, as well as many long-distance guests, including foreigners.
San Giacomo September 8 to 9
The town’s patron saint is San Giacomo. He was born in Bethsaida of Galilèe and was the son of Zebedee and Mary Salome, cousin of Jesus. On 8 and 9 september each year the town’s patron saint is celebrated. During these two days blessing offerings are made and the procession with a golden image of San Giacomo is carried out on the evening of September 9. Also this procession it is characterized by drumming.
On March 18, in Gratteri, as elsewhere in Sicily, is carried out an evening procession with candles, fires and torches.
The procession, with the statue of the Holy Family is held in the evening. An important symbol is the flower empelodesimo (“sciacculi”). Large piles of wood are burned in open spaces as squares, and as in so many other cases nice food is offered in the streets. During this celebration artichokes and sausages are made and sold on the streets.
In Gratteri is celebrated numerous other occations, but this is a description of some of the year’s most important.
From an investment point of view
The town has in recent years begun to meet more interest, with an increasing number of foreign buyers. Prices has risen, but it is still possible to find properties at nice prices here. It is the town’s natural beauty, strong historical and cultural character and charm that makes the town popular.