The little town of Sperlinga lies on the side of a rocky spur shaped like an upturned ship’s keel, believed to have been inhabited since the Sican epoch. Lots of cave-dwellings and grottoes can be visited downhill. Uphill, in a highly strategic location, rises a castle-fortress. On the slope to the castle are two big grottoes once used as stables, now accomodating a small ethnic-anthropological museum. Past the first doorway there is a fine ogive archway with an inscription above extolling the virtue of the town “Quod Siculis placuit, sola Sperlinga negavit” (What pleased Sicilians was only rejected by Sperlinga). The significance of such a proclamation must be sought in history, for in 1282 at the height of the War of the Sicilian Vespers, a band of Frenchmen sought refuge in the castle: here, instead of being treated as hostages, they were shown kindness and understanding by the town residents. Elsewhere the episode caused a great outcry.
The castle is built on several levels. The caves excavated from the rock (to the left of the entrance) were used for stabling animals, as prison cells and forges and probably for making weapons. At the front is the prince’s reception room. Opposite, on a single level, lies the chapel and the residential quarters; the under-crofts in this section of the castle served as granaries. Centrally placed between the two wings, a steep staircase cut into the bedrock climbs up to the lookout tower; from here the view pans 360° over the Gangi plateau with the Madonie range behind, the Nebrodi to the north, Mount Etna and the Erei Mountains.
To the right stretches the long undulating ridge that runs from Monte Grafagna to San Martino and links up with the Nebrodi mountain chain. This highly scenic road snakes its way towards Gangi, the largest town in the Madonie.