Piana degli Albanesi
Hora e Arbëreshëvet
|Comune of Piana degli Albanesi|
Bashkia e Horës së Arbëreshëvet
A view of Piana degli Albanesi
|Metropolitan city||Palermo (PA)|
|o Mayor||Rosario Petta|
|o Total||64.92 km2 (25.07 sq mi)|
|Elevation||740 m (2,430 ft)|
(30 September 2017)
|o Density||96/km2 (250/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
|Dialing code||091 857|
|Patron saint||M. St. Hodegetria, St. Demetrius, St. George|
|Saint day||September 2 October 26, April 23|
|Region||Apulia, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Molise, Sicily|
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Piana degli Albanesi is 800 metres (2,600 ft) above sea level in a mountainous valley that ends at the lake of Piana degli Albanesi. It is a mountain resort, whose natural environment and typical mild mediterranean climate create a peaceful and serene oasis. Its natural frame consists of a lake, the mountains and the typical rural quarters.
It is surrounded by four mountains (Pizzuta, Kumeta, Maganoce, Xeravulli), natural sites (Neviere, Cave Garrone, Honi), and the nature reserve Serre della Pizzuta. There are a number of recreational activities available in the area, such as hiking, cycling, horse riding, canoeing, and paragliding.
The territory is crossed by several streams. To the south-east, immersed in , there is the artificial lake formed in 1923 by damming the Belice Destro river (Lumi Honi), barred in the 1920s to allow for the construction of the Lake of Piana degli Albanesi, since 1999 a natural oasis protected and safeguarded by the World Wildlife Foundation.
Piana degli Albanesi was founded in the late 15th century by a large group of Albanian refugees coming from the Balkans during the conquest of the latter by the Ottoman Empire. The exodus began after the defeat of the Byzantine Empire and the death of Skanderbeg, who successfully fought for the freedom of their people for more than two decades.
The village foundation was officially sanctioned on August 30, 1488, based on an official request sent in 1486-1487 to Cardinal Juan de Borja, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Monreale, demanding the right to remain in the lands of Mercu and Aydingli, located in the mountains in the province of Palermo.
In 1482-85, after several attacks from the Ottomans, the Christian Albanians were forced to the Adriatic coast where they hired ships from Republic of Venice, escaped by sailing and managed to reach the island of Sicily.[clarification needed] They apparently were housed in temporary camps somewhere near Palermo until about 1486 or 1487, when they were granted land known initially as the "Plain of the Archbishop", inland areas of Sicily in the mountains above the city of Palermo. Signed the "capitulation" in Albanian and Italian, which were also recognized with followed by the Brief of Pope Sixtus IV, the official concession of land was granted to the settlers in 1488, followed by the construction of what became the largest Albanian center of the island and primarily, religious buildings.
King John II of Spain and Sicily allowed the original refugees to occupy the present place and to preserve their Orthodox Christian rite. These Albanian refugees were at the time referred to by the surrounding population as "Greeks" on account of their Orthodox faith and the settlement became known as Piana dei Greci. For example, in 1673, the local priest Domenico Mamola in a note written in Greek refers to the settlement as Piana dei Greci. In 1941 during Mussolini's invasion of Greece, the name was changed to Piana degli Albanesi so as to gain the locals support for the fascist regime's imperialist intentions toward Albania. The name Piana degli Albanesi or Plain of the Albanians is a literal translation of the local Arbëreshë name: Hora e Arbëreshëvet.
During the 19th century, the Arbëreshë of Piana degli Albanesi played a significant role for the Italian national unity, and participated in the stronger phases of the movement of Fasci Siciliani. The inhabitants of Piana degli Albanesi were known to have a reputation for rebelliousness, but were not organized politically until the arrival of the Fascio in April 1893.[clarification needed]
In 1947, the regional Mafia hired the bandit Salvatore Giuliano to shoot down the annual May Day demonstration of the Pianesi, which took place in a remote mountain pass. The bandit and his gang indeed attacked them there, killing fourteen people in what came to be known as the Portella della Ginestra massacre.
The historic center of the town has a late-medieval style, reflecting the social status and economic conditions of the time when the settlement was built. The city streets are narrow and consist of steps (shkallët) and neighbourhoods (gjitonia), the roads are generally narrow and provide a meeting place in front of the houses, with the exception of the main road (dhromi i madhë) which is wide and straight and divides the town into different sections. There is also a Piazza Grande (Qaca e Madhe) which is the centre of community relationships.
The churches of the town are among the most important architectural structures, the testimony of these two styles, the baroque linked to the Byzantine Empire and Italian. Of particular interest are the works of the architect and painter Pietro Novelli, very active in the Albanian community.
Churches in Piana degli Albanesi include:
The Monastery of the Basilian Fathers (Sclizza or in Albanian Sklica) of the Byzantine Rite is it in a panoramic spot over the town It houses mosaic works by Spiridione Marino (Dhoni), a local Italo-Albanian artist.
Within the territory of Piana degli Albanesi, in Contrada Sant'Agata (Shënt Arhta in Albanian), are the remains of an early Christian necropolis of late Roman age, called Pirama. They were brought to light in 1988.
The town is the most important center of the Albanians of Sicily, as well as the largest and most populous colony of Arbëreshë (Italo-Albanian or Albanians of Italy) and it is the episcopal see of the Eparchy of Piana degli Albanesi, constituency of the Italo-Albanian Church whose jurisdiction covers all Albanians of Sicily who practice the Byzantine rite.
The community has maintained many ethnic elements of Albanian culture like language, religious ritual, traditional costumes, music and folklore. The inhabitants are the descendants of Albanian families, including nobles and relatives of Skanderbeg, that settled in Southern Italy during the Ottoman conquest of the Balkans.
From the town come the university founders of "Albanian Language and Literature" in Naples and Palermo and is headquartered, since 1945, the "Italo-Albanian Seminary", already in Palermo (1734). Its ancient tradition musics and songs Byzantine is part of the ""Registro Eredità Immateriali della Sicilia" (Intangible Heritage Registry of Sicily) recognized by UNESCO. The municipal government uses bilingual documents and road signs in Albanian and Italian under existing Italian legislation on protecting ethnic and linguistic minorities.
The town preserves unique Easter traditions, held every year according to a typical itinerary: first of all is the Divine Liturgy, where the Gospel is read in seven languages, including Arabic. After the religious ceremony, there is a procession through the main street, all the women and several men dress in traditional Arbëresh costume, the procession leads to the square after the blessing the red eggs are distributed as a sign of Christ's resurrection.
The traditional female costume of Piana degli Albanesi, along with language and the Byzantine rite, is one of the most obvious signs of Arbëreshe cultural identity. There are several artistic works on the clothes of Albanians of Piana degli Albanesi, including Vuillier prints of the 18th century, and paintings by Ettore De Maria Bergler, partly preserved at the Art Gallery of the monumental complex of Sant'Anna in Palermo and other private prints, postcards and watercolors by unknown authors.
The opulent clothes are worn on special occasions such as baptisms, Epiphany, Easter and especially marriage, continuing to be carefully preserved by the women of Piana degli Albanesi. It costs thousands of euros to make and repair these costumes, and the majority of women use them on these occasions. Embroidery is done using a pillow, a frame or a needle alone.
The Albanian language (Arbërisht) is spoken by all, and can be seen in street names, road signs, and shop signs in the village. The language shares the widespread language variations seen in southern Albania, mixed at times with Greek phonetics. The language is recognized by the local government and primary schools as a minority ethno-linguistic language. Arbërisht remains the dominant language in the region. Piana degli Albanesi is officially bilingual; the official town documents are written in both Albanian and Italian. The citizens are bilingual, able to use both the Albanian and Italian languages.
The Albanian language is used in radio stations (ex. Radio Hora or Radio Jona), and especially in books and periodicals (ex. Mondo Albanese, Kartularet e Biblos, Albanica, Fluturimi i aikullës, Lajmtari Arbëreshvet or Mirë ditë).
The music and chants of Piana degli Albanesi are deeply tied to religious tradition. The weekly liturgies, festivals and other officiating are always adorned with a ceaseless flow of melody.
One of the main local resources of income is tourism, but because of the vast areas devoted to agriculture and its climate, its economy is based primarily on the production of dairy products, cereals, olive oil, wine and fruit, and by herds of sheep, cattle and goats. The office and industrial sector is thriving, the country is precisely known for the presence of accommodation such as guesthouses and restaurants that specialize in preparing dishes of those particular goods
Art and craft products include Byzantine style icons created according to the traditional canons. Modern painters of icons (religious pictures on wood) draw inspiration from Byzantine art and spirituality.
Other products include the women's costumes, mosaics, gold jewels and marble art.