Salemi, a Wonderful Village for Sale

Salemi is a beautiful village tucked in one of the most awesome zones of Western Sicily: Belice Valley, in the likewise charming province of Trapani. The village became recently popular for putting dilapidated homes for sale for 1 euro.

That is the umpteenth town in Sicily and Italy which put cheap properties for sale with the purpose to repopulate it and revitalize tourism. It has been for the strong interest you showed toward this village that I decided to provide you with comprehensive information about Salemi. If you are ready to discover more, read the following paragraphs.

Salemi Tourist Information

Salemi is an Italian municipality in the province of Trapani, in Sicily. It is placed in one of the most secluded and interesting artistic, historical, and naturalistic areas of my island. The town lies right in the heart of Belice Valley, surrounded by an evocative natural landscape that gives it an authentic and charming look.

Salemi is a town away from the city traffic and the noise of crowd which has been appointed one of the most beautiful villages of Italy in 2016. In the downtown, you breath the scent of an ancient past which made Salemi the beautiful gem we love still today.

As regards the valley where Salemi is, you must know that the same valley is a large district surrounded by Belice river and including other beautiful villages of the province of Trapani, such as Castelvetrano, namely the home of the black bread, Gibellina, Partanna, Marsala, Mazara del Vallo and, finally, Salemi.

For his favorable position, the town allows you to reach and admire a breathtaking landscape, such as Zingaro Nature Reserve, the wonderful beaches of San Vito Lo Capo and Castellamare del Golfo and the magnificent temple of Segesta.

The above-mentioned Valley was destroyed by a dreadful earthquake in 1968, but even in this tragedy Sicilians found the courage to move on and rebuild their lives. Nowadays, the surroundings of Salemi and the whole Belice Valley are a real trove of treasures having the most remarkable archeological heritage of Sicily.

Unfortunately, tourism and archeological patrimony have not been able to defend Sicily and Salemi from economic crisis and depopulation. In 2019, indeed, Salemi had a population of about 10,000 inhabitants, but their number has decreased over the years and could decrease in the future.

That is why the municipal council of Salemi resumed the old idea to put ruined homes for sale. The town, in fact, was one of the early Italian municipalities that launched the idea of 1 euro houses, afterwards followed by Sicilian villages such as Gangi, Sambuca and Cammarata.

If you think to relocate in this town, I think, in turn, that it is right to look at the ancient history of Salemi. You’ll find it below.

Salemi’s History

Placed on the slopes of the mount of Roses, between Mazzaro and Grande rivers, the village is in the area of Halyciae, the ancient city founded by the Elimis, an ancient Sicilian population born by a group of refugees who arrived in Sicily in the IX century.

The Elimis also founded Erice, another fabulous gem of Western Sicily. The first name of Salemi was, indeed, Alicia, namely the modified name of Halyciae. The village witnessed the war between Selinunte and Segesta and got allied with the latter against Syracuse, maybe for the fact that Salemi and Segesta had a common origin.

The village was also conquered by Romans and by the same dominations that governed Sicily in the ancient centuries. However, the history of the village was heavily marked by the Arabs and the Normans. The Arabs called the town Salam, a name which means “Peace” in the Arabic language.

This name was then turned into the current Salemi. The Normans instead developed buildings and magnificent castles that made Western Sicily a world heritage.

 What to Do in Salemi

In Salemi, you can visit a medieval Norman castle dating back the XII century, the Jesuit church of Collegio, (which is the mother church, today), the local museum, and other stunning religious buildings, such as Sant’ Agostino Church, rebuilt and enlarged in the XVIII century.

In the surroundings of the village, you can also admire the ruins of an early Christian basilica and two necropolis, namely ancient cemeteries and burials placed in two archeological areas: Mokarta and San Ciro. They are a few kms away from Salemi, in the picturesque Valley of Mazara.

You can also eat in the local restaurants in Salemi, where you can taste delicious Sicilian recipes, such as the “busiata”. The latter is just the traditional recipe of the village. It named after by the traditional knitting needle used by the ancient Sicilian women to give this pasta a curved shape.

You can season the busiata with tomato sauce, ragout, or other types of sauces. The traditional pastry is instead made of sweets with ricotta, such as cassatedde or cassatelle and the buccellato, a dough stuffed with dried figs, raisins, almonds, and orange peel.

Seen that Salemi is a very small village, you can stroll the medieval alleys by yourself to find a restaurant or a tavern and taste the afore mentioned treats.

There, bread, appetizers, pasta and meats are always seasoned with extra virgin olive oil from Belice Valley PDO (Protected Designation of Origin). Salemi is also considered “the city of bread” for the traditional way to prepare it.

The traditional bread of Salemi is prepared during two local holidays: the holiday of the patron Saint Nicola, on December 6, the holiday of Saint Biagio, the protector of throat, on February 3, and the holiday of Saint Giuseppe, on March 19. On these occasions, faithful prepare the so called Pani (Bread) as a vow for these saints.

On the San Giuseppe holidays, the artistic bread is offered to three poor people resembling Child Jesus, Joseph, and the Virgin Mary. The Pani are prepared with an artistic shape, as if they were real artworks (see the image below).

The most popular are the cuddireddi and the cavadduzzi, with respectively a rounded and squared shape. But these pani (bread) have also the artistic shapes of flowers, animals, plants, and Christian symbols. You can admire them in the museum of Bread, hosted in San Bartolomeo Church.

The Cacciata is, instead, the holiday of wheat, where farmers recreate the traditional scene of the harvest and the milling of grain up to the production and conservation of flour. Even though you are not on a sort of Wiki, here, I hope this detailed information gave you a clear overview about how living is in Salemi.

There is all the ancient and unforgettable savor of Sicily in the village, you can perceive it everywhere, in the alleys, in the gaze of people, in their traditional customs, in the breathtaking landscape, where history, architecture, archeological remains, beaches and hills merge in a sort of daydream you would prolong forever.

Countryside and beaches leverage the beneficial effects of weather, in Salemi, a Mediterranean climate with mild winter and a lush green even in November.

The village, in fact, is only 446 meters above the sea level; it is, hence, on a low hill. But to retire or move to this town, you need to know more about real estate, auction, and process to buy the local homes at a cheap price. Read the subsequent paragraph to discover more on this topic.

Salemi Sicily Homes for Sale

Even though, in Salemi, the project called “1-euro home” has been launched and divulgated internationally in October 2020, the official website is under construction.

The same site is available in the English and the Italian languages but this moment there aren’t information about the auction to buy 1 euro homes, there are only contact references.

The official website of the municipality of Salemi is, instead, Currently, due to the coronavirus emergency, any institutional activity has been suspended.

The local museum is, inf fact, closed and relevant information about how to buy 1 euro property in the village of Salemi has been removed. I am anyway sure that as soon as the covid emergency has ended, the auction to buy a 1-euro home will resume regularly.

It is very important you know that 1 euro is just the start price of the auction and that the homes will be assigned to those who offer more than one euro. Maybe the buyer will also be forced to spend in renovation works to restore the home.

The cost of the renovation work could be mandatory and set by the municipality, but without further updates I am unable to provide you with further details about this matter.

The only thing I know and that I already revealed in the article about the homes for sale for 1 euro in Sicily is that Salemi was the first commune which about 10 years ago launched the initiative to put ruined homes for sale for 1 euro.

Unfortunately, these homes were severely dilapidated (see the image above), and on the risk to collapse, and, therefore, the project failed.

Mafia in Salemi?

In 2012, the local council of Salemi was suspended for alleged ties with the mafia. At the time, the resigning mayor and the inhabitants denied these accusations. In 2014, inhabitants even affirmed they didn’t know the Mafia.

However, a report by the Anti-Mafia Commission – dating back 1971, revealed that the influence of the Mafia in the province of Trapani had its headquarters in Salemi, Vita and Santa Ninfa.

Today Salemi is the seat of the Museum against the Mafia: a tribute to remember those men and women who fought the mafia and was killed by mobsters in the past decades.

As you know, the Mafia has been a plague of the entire Sicily. Hence, if you think to move to the Sicilian villages, you must necessarily remember this sad side of the Sicilian history.

I advise you to visit Sicily before living there, because some sides of the Sicilian mindset could hurt you. Local services, indeed, not are so effective and rapid, sometimes.

Even healthcare could be poor in some Sicilian villages. This disadvantage depends on the longstanding illegal ties among local Politic, Economy and Public Health of Italy.

How to Reach Salemi

You don’t need a map to reach the village of Salemi. Land to Palermo or Trapani airports. Then, drive up to the local stations of Palermo or Trapani and take the bus directed to Salemi.

In the village, you’ll find picturesque accommodations to spend your explorative vacation in the search of your new Sicilian home. But, do all this after the pandemic will be finished. Now, stay safe and if you can, send me your opinion about this wonderful town of Western Sicily.


4 thoughts on “Salemi, a Wonderful Village for Sale

  1. Verna Kaunisto-Feodorow

    Dear Rosalba! This idea of buying a small place in Sicily has installed to my mind. I just wonder where to start. We are a Finnish-French couple planning to come to visit Sicily with my husband yet this summer, if the Corona restrictions permit ( vaccinated, of course)

    But even to visit, what would you suggest to start with? Where to start even to look for? We are looking for a simple life place, also to buy, but availability even with some public transports such as bus or train would be ideal. As a musician I understand some Italian, but I speak french and Portuguese, so I guess I could learn more of Italian quite quickly.

    1. Rosalba Mancuso Post author

      Hi Verna,
      To visit Sicily this summer, you can start from any place (I wrote many travel posts on this blog).
      To buy home, the cheaper deals are in small villages such as Salemi, or also in the villages
      in Noto Valley, such as Palazzolo Acreide, Usually, these villages have public transports (bus), but not rail station. I hope this reply helps.

      1. Verna Kaunisto

        dear Rosalba, Thank You so much for your kind response. I will check up your idea!

        Best regards
        Verna K-F

        1. Rosalba Mancuso Post author

          Dear Verna,
          I am happy to hear that my idea has been helpful to you.
          I hope you’ll enjoy my Sicily very soon.

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