The movie "Cinema Paradiso" was filmed in Sicily, and released in 1988. It was a great hit, and justifiably so. Part of the film was shot in the very lovely town square of Palazzo Adriano. Infact, the cinema itself was constructed as a temprary structure in this piazza. The piazza is rated by many as being one of the most beautiful in Sicily.
Most tourists visit Palazzo Adriano because of its association with 'Cinema Paradiso' as well as other less well-known Italian movies.
We visited the place for quite another reason, which I will describe below.
During the Ottoman invasion of the Balkans during the 15th century, many Albanians (and other Balkan people) fled westwards, settling in many parts of what is now Italy ranging from venice down to Sicily.
In the mid- 15th century, a group of Albanian mercenaries and their families settled in Palazzo Adriano. Some of their descendants still live live there. Unlike Piana degli Albanesi, where the majority of the population speak an archaic form of Albanian, there are few speakers of Albanian in Palazzo A.
Two large churches dominate the vast piazza. One is Roman Catholic, and the other is 'Greco-Byzantine' - a form of Eastern Catholicism very similar to Greek Orthodox. On the external wall latter, there are plaques commemorating Palazzo's Albanian 'connection'
George Castrioti Skanderbeg, who held back the Turks valliantly during the 15th century, is the Albanian national hero. The Circolo Skanderbeg on the piazza commemorates him. It is a place where old men gather to meet, chat, and play cards. None of those with whom we spoke, knew even a word of Albanian despite the fact that their 'circolo' was decorated with Albanian mementoes!
The museum of Arberesh culture is worh visiting:
Situated in some rooms under the Bourbon Castle that overlooks Palazzo Adriano, this museum contains some artefacts relating to Palazzo's Albanian (Arberesh) community and its past. In addition to mannequins dressed in traditional Arberesh folk costumes, there are copies of several interesting paintings by the French artist Jean Houel. Painted in 1782, these were part of a collection of paintings of Sicily that he did, and the originals can now be seen in the Hermitage in St Petersburgh in Russia.
Address: Catello Borbonico
Directions: Ask for directions at the Municipio on the main piazza.