Corleone, the true town of the Godfather

corleone sightIf you are proud to be Sicilian, you should visit Corleone not only for the fame to being the birth home of some of the cruelest mafia bosses, but because it is one among the many charming Sicilian towns you can visit during your travel to Sicily.  Corleone is indeed known as the town of the 100 churches, due to the presence of nearly 100 ancient churches built over the past centuries. The town is very small, not over 12000 inhabitants and lies a few kilometres away from Palermo. It is also the town described by Mario Puzo in the book The Godfather, a mafia novel that Francis Ford Coppola used to shooted the namesake movie titled just The Godfather. Truth to tell, the movie director shooted the movie in Savoca and Forza D’Agrò, but the place described in the movie is just Corleone, the birth home of the main character of the book, don Vito Corleone, who moved to the US in the early years of the past century without knowing a single word in English and that the US officers called, simply, Corleone, because he only told, in the Sicilian language, the name of this town.

Where is the town of Corleonecorleone sight
Corleone is inside a mountain land of 22,912 hectares, at 542 metres above the sea level ( see the image). It is located in a valley between the so called Rocca ri Maschi”, the “Castello Soprano” and the “Castello Sottano”. The first castle rises on a secluded cliff overhanging the town centre. It was called the “castrum superior” in the Latin language. Probably it was born to defend the new settlement of the Lombards during the reign of the King Frederick (XIII century). This castle already ended up ruined in the second half of the XVIII century and today you can only see a simple tower made of limestone and mortar. The Castello Sottano was born for the same reasons of the one called Soprano and lies along the slope of the cliff, namely the inferior area, which gave it the name of Castello Sottano ( inferior castle), but today, it is still impossible to know which of them were built first. Between the two castles, the only difference is that Castello Soprano belongs to the municipality of Corleone and can be visited at any time, while Castello Sottano belongs to a local owner and can be visited on demand.

What to see
corleone water bridgeIn Corleone you can see breathtaking sights and a lush, natural landscape. The most relevant tourist attractions are the “Gorges of the dragon” near the Ficuzza forest, and the “Due Rocche” waterfalls. The Gorges of the dragon are always waterfalls that enclose clad rock plants of great botanical interest, such as wood spurge, cabbage mountain, the carnation, and capers. They have a mythological name due to the landscape surrounding it. You can reach them along the road which connects Corleone to the Ficuzza forest where the main path is crossed by a swaying water bridge( see the image). That is a river filled with lush flora and fauna. Here,  you can see maidenhair fern, willows, elms, fishes, and colourful dragonflies. From another area you can also see the big “pots of the Giants”, cylindrical and deep holes where the water ran through a swirling pattern. Furthermore, old mulberry trees, oranges, pomegranates and figs are there to prove that in the site once it was a mill. The Cascata delle due Rocche, the cascade of the two fortresses, is only at a short distance from the centre of Corleone. It is also a natural park and surrounded by a rocky vegetation. To reach the cascade of two fortresses, you can go through narrow alleys in the district of San Giuliano. Soon after, you’ll be in front of a small church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, to the left of the church, you’ll find another path leading you to the two fortresses. Seated on the ancient square blocks, sheltered and under mulberry trees, nuts and frassinisi, you can admire the stunning view of the waterfall. The water emits foamy steam that quickly turns into shimmering rainbows. As I have already said, Corleone it is called the town of the hundred churches, because, although it is very small, it houses many small churches built over the centuries. You can visit all of them if you want and if you have a complete map of Corleone, but the most important are: the Chiesa Madre (“Mother Church”), The Chiesa dell’Addolorata, the Chiesa DI Santa Rosalia, and the small church of Sant’Andrea and The Santuario della Madonna del Rosario DI Tagliavia. They date back from the 4th century (The mother church) to the XIX century. They are all together embellished with paintings, frescoes and with typical Norman, Arab and baroque decorations. An important and notable landmark you can’t miss in Corleone is the C.I.D.M.A, International Documentary Center of Mafia and the No Mafia Movement, inaugurated in on December 12, 2000. This real Sicilian museum of contemporary history houses the room of the folders of the MAXI-PROCESS, the “Room of the messages”, the”Room of pain” and a final room dedicated to Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa. The first room keeps all the most important documents the prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino produced for the Maxi-Process against the mafia bosses called The Corleonesi and are the most relevant proof of the fight against the Mafia. Among these, you can also read the confession of the repented Mafia boss Tommasso Buscetta. The other two rooms house a poignant photo gallery made of the Sicilian photographer Letizia Battaglia and by her daughter. The pictures show the main facts linked to the fight against Mafia during the 1970 and 1980s and the dismay and desperation of those Sicilian people who lost their ones because of the Mafia. The room dedicated to Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa put all together images of mafia bosses and prosecutors who fought them to restore justice and legality in this small Sicilian town and in the entire Sicily.

When to visit Corleone and how to reach the town
Since the town is secluded in the middle of the Sicilian mountains, you can visit it also in the winter. Indeed, the Sicilian weather is mild, and you can visit it in all seasons. In the winter, you can admire the beautiful churches, in the autumn and spring, its stunning natural landscape and in the summer, the beach of San Vito Lo Capo. You can reach Corleone from Catania or Palermo airports.

To find flights to Palermo or Catania see here.

To reach Corleone, you can also rent a car at the airport. You can find car rental here.

If you find a car, you can follow the paths below.

From Catania airport: follow the highway A19 Catania-Palermo up to the road junction leading to the fast sliding road to Agrigento. Drive to Marineo (S.S. 118) and follow the directions to Corleone.

From Palermo airport: take the fast sliding road to Agrigento up to the road junction of Bolognetta. Drive to Marineo ( S.S. 118) and follow the road signals to Corleone. As an alternative path, take the highway 624 Palermo-Sciacca, at the height of the road junction of Viale Pagliarelli, and exit to San Cipirello, where you must follow the directions to Corleone (provincial road 4 and 2).

Hotels in Corleone
Due to its fame, Corleone is visited by many tourists over the year and for this, it has many hotels and accommodations.

To find accommodations in Corleone you can see here.


6 thoughts on “Corleone, the true town of the Godfather

  1. Pingback: Sicily wedding: things to know before organizing this important day

  2. Pingback: La Tortulia #146 – El Padrino 2 en la vida real | La Tortulia Podcast

  3. Pingback: Sicilian Mafia, what you must know before visiting Sicily – SICILY ON WEB

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.