Piana degli Albanesi
Piana degli Albanesi
Distance from Camping La Playa: 40 km. See directions on Google Maps
Piana degli Albanesi (Hora e Arbëreshëvet in Arbëresh, Chiana in Sicilian) is an Italian municipality of 6,224 inhabitants in the metropolitan city of Palermo in Sicily. Located on a mountainous plateau and on the eastern side of the imposing Mount Pizzuta, is reflected in the large lake of the same name and is 24 km from Palermo.
It is the most important and well-known centre of the Albanians of Sicily, as well as the largest Arbëreshë settlement, where the most populous Albanian community in Italy has resided for centuries. Until 1941 it was called Piana dei Greci (Plain of the Greeks) because of the Greek-Byzantine rite professed by its inhabitants. It is the bishop’s seat of the Eparchy of Piana degli Albanesi, a district of the Italian-Albanian Church, whose jurisdiction extends to all the island’s churches of Byzantine rite.
Over the centuries it has been counted among the most active and influential centres of the Italo-Albanians, protecting and cultivating the historical memory of the ancient motherland. As well as being the socio-cultural, religious and political centre of the island’s Arbëreshe communities, it has maintained its original ethnic peculiarities almost intact. In the modern age it played a significant role in the revolutionary and Risorgimento movements relating to the national unification of Italy, the Albanian National Revival movement in the struggle for liberation from Turkish-Ottoman rule and the regional movements of the Sicilian Workers’ Federation. It is also sadly known for the massacre of Portella della Ginestra (1947). Between 1944 and 1945, lasting fifty days, Piana degli Albanesi became an independent People’s Republic.
It contributed greatly to the progress of Albanian culture and literature with a large number of intellectuals, initiating a decisive process in the literary history of Albania. It is considered the place of origin of Arbëreshe literature, where the first Albanian work of the diaspora was born (1592), and initiator – in the first years of the 17th century – of the first European school where lessons were taught in Albanian.
The founders of the chairs of Albanian language and literature in Naples and Palermo came from this town, and the Italo-Albanian Seminary, formerly in Palermo (1734), has been based here since 1945. Its ancient Byzantine musical and singing tradition is part of Sicily’s Intangible Heritage Register, established by the Sicilian Region and recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The municipal administration also uses Albanian in official documents, in accordance with current legislation protecting ethno-linguistic minorities.