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"Piana dei Greci" / Piana degli Albanesi

 

 

The town was founded on 30 August1488 by refugees from the region of Himarë, Albania between the 16th to 18th centuries.

In 1482-1485 a Turkish attack forced these families to Adriatic coast where they hired ships from Venice and escaped by sailing to northern Sicily. They apparently were housed in temporary camps somewhere near city of Palermo until about 1486 or 1487, when they then applied to Cardinal Giovanni Borgia, Archbishop of Monreale, for the right to make permanent settlement on his fiefs of Merku and Daidingli, known as the "Plain of the Archbishop" in the mountains above the city of Palermo. The official concession of land was granted to the settlers in 1488.

In 1534 another group of families, known as the 'Coroni', settled in the village. They were Epirote-Albanians and Greeks from the Venetian fortress of Corone in the Peloponnese region of southwestern Greece

King John II of Spain allowed the original refugees to occupy the present place and to preserve their Orthodox religion, which was identified as Greek,so that the small town had the name of "Piana dei Greci". The name was changed to Piana degli Albanesi in 1941, at a time when Mussolini had incorporated Albania into a Greater Italy which was at war with Greece.

 

Piana degli Albanesi (Zip Code 90037) is 139 km. distant from Agrigento, 142 km. from Caltanissetta, 242 km. from Catania, 161 km. from Enna, 283 km. from Messina, 24 km. from Palermo,which province it belongs to, 283 km. from Ragusa, 307 km. from Siracusa, 88 km. from Trapani.

The municipality has 6.384 inhabitants and an area of 6.489 hectares for a density of population of 98 inhabitants per square kilometre. It rises on an internal hilly area and is 720 metres above sea-level.

Cereals, grapes, olives and vegetables are its main agricultural products of Pianese economy. Wide is also breeding both of cattle and sheeps. Particular are handicraft products such as golden embroideries, puppets in Albanian-costume, icons, painting on cloth and artistic pottery articles.

Originally Piana degli Albanesi was called Hora that means town. It was founded in 1488 by a group of Albanian refugees escaped to Turkish army. King John II of Spain allowed them to occupy that place and to preserve their Greek cult so that the small town had the name of Piana dei Greci. In the times it changed into Piana degli Albanesi. Since 1941 it rises on a hill below it there is a basin that is the cradle of an artificial lake.

The most important monuments are the Cathedral Church with Greek rite and dates back to 1590; the chiesa di Santa Maria Odigitria (Church of St. Mary Odigitria) built in 1644 according to architect Pietro Novelli's plan; the chiesa di S. Giorgio (Church of St. George), the oldest of the town, and the chiesa di S. Vito (Church of St. Vito) with an imposing portal.

In Piana degli Albanesi it is singular and beautiful Easter Feast that takes place according to a peculiar itinerary: at the admittance of the town two Pianesi (inhabitant of Piana), dreesing the typical costume, receive visitors and give them some coloured eggs. Later followed the Mass and during it the Gospel is read in seven different languages, among them there is also the Arabic. In the end through the town streets a long train takes place and on the occasion the inhabitants wear sumptuos costumes

 
 
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