The province of Messina has in reserve a discovery that is worth a whole journey to Sicily. It is the road that takes you to a village that has been classified as one of the most beautiful in Italy: Montalbano Elicona, from the Arabic albana, meaning “excellent place”. It is situated exactly on the border between the Monti Peloritani and the Parco dei Nebrodi.
The town arose during the IX century A.D., becoming Norman under the direct control of the crown, and thus it remained also during the Swabian rule. It was the wedding gift of Frederick II of Swabia to his first wife, Costanza of Aragon. The life of the village is all in its extraordinary historical part, soon to be enriched by the restoring of a hundred ancient habitations.
There are the façades, the friezes, the enchanting portals, the many effigies, the sculptures, the labyrinth of alleyways, the view encompassing Etna, the Strait of Messina and all seven Aeolian Islands. There is the castle and its defensive emplacements - the best preserved on the island - and the royal chapel and the courtyards. And also the surrounding fourteenth century churches. But the surprises continue, a few kilometres from the village, with the discovery of the Cubburi, the so-called Tholos of Elicona, over five hundred enormous mega- lithic complexes consisting of great sandstone rocks in the shape of a hemispheric cupola, probably the dwellings of the chiefs of a tribe who even boasted a neolithic female deity, forty-five metres tall, and two large menhirs, one of which is forty-five metres tall.