Visit - Geraci Sicolo

Wednesday, November 19, 2014.

On the first morning the partners were welcomed in the main square of Geraci by representatives of the city of Geraci Siculo: Luigi Iuppa, Deputy Mayor, Councillor Antonia Parrivecchio, by the clerk of the city and those involved in the project (Arianna Attinasi, Minutella Antonio, Giuseppe Silvestri, Cristina Fiorentino), and by the Association Pro Loco.

The group visited the town’s municipal chambers and thereafter moved to the Capuchin Convent for the formal meeting of the Project.

On Wednesday afternoon the group visited the Ethno-anthropological Museum Musebarch of Geraci located in the Convent of the Capuchin Fathers, constructed in the seventeenth century. The Director of the Museum, Professor Vincenzo Piccione, introduced the collections which tell the story of the traditional heritage of Geraci. The museum contains several sections dedicated pastoralism, agricultural, and stoneworking.

Different rooms explain the life cycle of the shepherds and peasants of Geraci in the past, including exhibitions of traditional tools used by shepherds, tools for making cheese, traditional clothes of the shepherds, old houses and shepherds’ places of refuge.

The museum also contains a collection of the Ignazio Buttitta Foundation Palermo, one of the largest dedicated to the recovery of the Sicilian tradition, particularly puppets and tableaux of Sicilian storytellers.

After visiting the museum demonstrations were given by two shepherds who live and work Geraci. One demonstrated the sculpting of cheese in the shape of doves and horses that are produced especially for the Transhumance festival in May and for the Feast of the cavalcade of shepherds held the third Sunday of July every 7 years. The workshop was led by Nicola Fiorentino. Another demonstration of making traditional tools used in the production of cheese was given by Antonio Attinasi.

Thursday, November 20th.

Thursday was spent visiting two mountain “Marcati” ie, places of refuge for shepherds dedicated to the manufacture of cheese.

In the past the shepherds remained in the “marcatu” even to sleep at night, using small straw houses called “Pagghiari” although nowadays they return home at the end of the day.

The shepherds who led the visit were Giovanni Fiorentino and Antonello Alaimo. The group were able to see the one of the old houses as well as the production of cheese.

At Geraci there is still an ancient feudal law introduced by the Counts of Ventimiglia called “fida”, under which the land used for pasture by shepherds is public property.  The shepherds, in exchange for payment of a small fee proportional to the number of animals, use it still for grazing.

Inside the “marcatu” partners were able to see an old chamber used for animals constructed in stone, and they were shown the different stages of cheese making. The shepherds explained the different stages of processing milk into cheese for the “Tuma” initially and then “Ricotta” or different types of cheese, “Caciocavallo”, “formaggio stagionato” the result of a longer process. The group were also able to taste the cheese.

After this, the group was shown the driving of the cattle through the town, led by different groups of shepherds. During the period running from May 24 to November 20 the shepherds graze the cattle on the higher slopes of the mountain before return to the lower pastures for the winter. The group were able to enjoy the sights and sounds of the cattle as they moved through the streets of the town.


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