A Corner of Paradise in Sicily: The Village Suspended on the Rocks with Enchanted Thermal Waters – Younipa

In the heart of Sicily there is a small village that seems to be suspended on the rocks and is lucky enough to have thermal waters, that’s where we are.

Sclafani Bagni – source: Web editorial team

Sclafani Bagni, located near Palermo, seems to overlook the rocks, almost poised on the cliffs, creating an atmosphere of lightness and enchantment. However, this enchanting place is rooted in a solid tradition, so much so that it even inspired the artist Escher, who immortalized it in one of his engravings. This little jewel, a cross between clouds and rocks, reveals itself to those who venture through a series of panoramic curves.

The history of the village of Sclafani Bagni, Sicily

The origins of Sclafani Bagni have their roots in the 4th century BC, and the name could derive from “Aesculapiii Fanum” (the temple of Aesculapius). During the Arab period, it was known as ‘Isqlafinah’ or ‘Sqlafiah’. The first certain reference to Sclafani dates back to 938, mentioned in the “Cambridge Chronicle”.

After the Norman conquest (1060-1091), Sclafani Bagni was initially assigned to Giordano, son of Count Ruggero and lord of Noto and Caltanissetta, then to his sister Matilda and subsequently to their daughter Adelasia. Over the centuries, it passed to different families.

From the Norman to the Aragonese era, the territory of Sclafani Bagni was dotted with “casali”, small open rural agglomerations, without walls and inhabited by a few dozen people. In the 14th century, Matteo Sclafani, count of Adernò and builder of the Palazzo Sclafani in Palermo (1330), became its owner.

After the death of Matteo Sclafani without male heirs, the fief was the subject of disputes between the Peralta and Moncada families, whose daughters he had married. In the area of ​​Sclafani Bagni, in the 15th century, there were several mills for the processing of wool fabric.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the county of Sclafani Bagni was gradually dismembered through the sale of lands and properties.

What to see in the village of Sclafani Bagni in Sicily

Sclafani Bagni is the third smallest town in Sicily, but it hides a secret in its countryside, partly revealed by its name. The term “Bagni” is linked to an ancient spa establishment known since Greek times. This site is believed to have been dedicated to the god of medicine, Aesculapius (also known as Asclepius), who in Arabic was called ‘Sqlafiah’, hence the name “Sclafani”.

Sclafani Bagni Castle – source: web

In 1848, the Count of Sclafani had the main spa building built, but it was destroyed by a landslide. In 1857, the building was rebuilt in a new location. Although it has been renovated several times, today it is in a state of abandonment. However, the ancient natural hot water spring, with miraculous properties according to legend, is still present, and visitors can bathe freely. This spring is located south of the plant and flows at a temperature of approximately 37°C, with a chlorinated-sulphate-alkaline composition, classifying it as sulphurous thermal water. It is free of ammonia, nitrites and sulphates. Until the 1980s, the water was channeled into the tubs of Masseria Bagni, the Count’s ancient spa establishment.

Sclafani Bagni spa
Sclafani Bagni Thermal Baths – source: web
Sclafani Bagni spa
Sclafani Bagni Thermal Baths – source: web

The ancient Masseria Bagni, although abandoned, was once at the center of intense therapeutic activity. It had a large central atrium, with guest rooms. One wing of the building contained the bathrooms, where the thermal water flowed directly from the source. Another sector was reserved for the pensioner, with rooms and kitchens for the relatives of the patients coming from all over Sicily for treatment.

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