Alì Superiore is a hilly village in the province of Messina: it has been defined a balcony slinging on the sea because of its amazing panoramic position right over the Ionian Sea. And also with Mt. Etna still in the backdrop.
It is appreciated for its architectural heritage, for its mild climate, for the fresh and clear waters of its natural springs.
Unclear it is its origin, because it is supposed to have been:
- either a Greek colony called “Elis”
- or an ancient Arab settlement called “Alì”, in honor to the caliph Alì, Mohammed’s son in law.
Its urban layout distinguishes two different and well-determined areas:
- the probable Arab area on Sant’Elena hilltop
- a late XVI century expansion on the eastern part of the hill, where in 1574, a Capuchins monastery was built.
The XVI and XVII centuries were characterized by an impressive economic, building and demographic development, thanks to the mining and the cultivation of olive trees.
What to visit in Alì Superiore
The Cathedral of Saint Agatha dates back to the XVI century. Around this church the main populated part of the village developed, made by narrow and winding streets.
Entirely built with the local lime stone rock, the façade shows three entrance doors. Before the earthquake of 1783 there was the bust of Saint Agatha on the facade, unfortunately it went lost with the disaster. But nevertheless the faithful devotion to the saint is clearly readable on the upper part of the façade:
Agathae sub alis, Alì nulla timebit that means under your wings, Agatha, there will be anything that Alì will be threaten by.
Inside it is rich in works of art, for example a baroque-styled choir finely decorated with scenes from the saint’s life outshines.
Continuing the visit
Other churches and noble palaces show us the wealthy past of the village. In fact numerous religious congregations and rich noble families once lived in Alì Superiore.
- Church of the Holy Spirit was committed by the famous Fama family in the XV century, it houses the relics of Pietro Fama, in a very fascinating marbled funeral monument.
- The small church of the Purgatory Souls dates back to the XVI century, above the main portal we can appreciate a XVII century bas-relief representing the Virgin of the Carmelo among the purgatory souls.
- Two palaces Fama or Maggiore with ashlar portals and grotesque masks, corbels with monstrous patterns or wrought-iron bellied railings frame them in a clear mannerism style belonging to Michelangelo.
For those tourists who would like to understand its past atmosphere, Alì Superiore still preserves its traditional vocation to the rural life:
- little balconies
- narrow passages
- pots with succulent plants nearly everywhere
- terraces with pergolas
- small internal courts and halls