Thursday, May 21, 2009

The "Piana degli Albanesi" Southeast of Palermo

This post is part of a thread about a Giuseppe Garibaldi "themed bicycle tour" design and implementation in Sicily. To see the whole thread click here.

Southeast of Palermo is one of the most interesting villages in western Sicily - Piana degli Albanesi.  It is also located in a beautiful valley surrounded by limestone mountains.  Here, in the late 15th century Albanians fleeing the Turkish invasions were allowed to settle and build their own community.  There are several such communities in remote, mountainous areas of Sicily and Southern Italy. 
While positioning himself for his assault on Palermo Garibaldi rested a day in Piana degli Albanesi (then called Piana dei Greci) and initiated a false retreat which tricked the Bourbon defenders entirely.  Garibaldi sent is cannon and heavy artillery south on the main road to Corleone.  The Bourbon army, which had come out of Palermo to meet him thought he was in flight and began following the artillery.  Meantime Garibaldi took his sizable army and slipped into the night to back track on Palermo where he entered over the Ponte dell'Ammiraglio.  Garibaldi was quite proud of his ruse.  In his memoirs he wrote:  "it was not until two days after our entry into Palermo that the enemy commanders found out we had hoodwinked them and gone on to the capital whle they thought all the time we were in Corleone."
From Calatafimi Garibaldi entered Piana degli Albanesi through the pass in the left of this photo.  On my ride I crossed over that same pass. 

The photo below shows me pedaling out of "Piana" after spending the night. This was one of the most beautiful rides of the trip.

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