Frazzanò is a city of the Messina province standing about 560m a.s.l. Lying just off the Nebrodi Park, it is renowned for its naturalistic value. Further naturalistic resorts are also situated nearby, like a group of grottoes in the Val di Canne district, known as “grotta delle colonne”, “grotta dell’inferno” and “grotta del cerchio”, all containing stalagmites and stalactites.
Frazzanò roots go back to 835, when it was founded by refugees from nearby areas due to the Arab advance, who would soon take Frazzanò as well, and ruled over it as far as the Norman occupation.
The Chiesa Madre, containing a 1500’s statue of the Annunciation attributed to Giuseppe Gagini, the 1600’s Chiesa di San Lorenzo, the patron saint, and the Convento di San Filippo Fragalà, are Frazzanò’s most attractive buildings. The last one is particularly worth-mentioning. Situated in the city outskirts, atop a hill rising to 730 metres, at one time it was a Basilian abbey (11th century), of which the few remains are a T-shaped church, some well-preserved apses and an octagonal drum in the transept
THE CITY SURROUNDINGS
Convento di San Filippo di Fragalà – 3 km from Frazzano towards Longi. The Basilian church, recently restored, was erected at Roger I Hauteville’s behest in the 11th century, more than likely on the ruins of a smaller church dating from the 5th century AD. It is worth pausing to view the exterior of the abbey complex from below; note the three apses in the Arab-Norman style, articulated by brick pilasters, and the octagonal drum in the transept. The church is T-shaped and preserves, particularly in the central apse, traces of Byzantine frescoes. The adjoining monastic buildings are also open.
Continue to Portella Calcatirizzo. Beyond the town, turn left at the fork towards Salvatore di Fitalia.
San Salvatore di Fitalia – Perched high among the slopes of the Nebrodi Mountains, this small village has a charming Chiesa Madre dedicated to San Salvatore, dated 1515. The exterior is rather severe; the interior is very attractive also thanks to recent restoration works that brought to light the 1500’s structure of the church, with three naves divided by sandstone columns supporting pointed archs. Its fine capitals are sculpted with the plant and anthropomorfic motifs so typical of medieval decorative schemes; the capital of the first column on the right, bearing the name of the stone-mason who carved it, features a highly unusual mermaid with a forked tail. In the right nave, is a 1521’s gentle Madonna della Neve by Antonello Gagini, while on the main altar, is a wooden statue of the Salvator Mundi, represented at the moment of the Transfiguration, dated 1603.
Museo Siciliano delle Tradizioni Religiose – It is a very interesting museum documenting the local religious customs and traditions through the display of simple objects, such as amulets against evil eye, votive objects including: a series of anatomical replicas made of wax, originally from the Santuario of San Calogero; the “pillole”, that is pills, consisting of tiny squares of paper designed to be swallowed by the faithful while they recited prayers requesting divine intervention in the cure of disease or other malady; sheet music used by ballad-singers and terracotta whistles bearing figurative images sold on saint’s days. An unusual 1600’s “priest toy” comprises a doll dressed as a priest complete with all the necessary holy vestments (sadly the liturgical objects have been stolen), reminiscent of the one described in Manzoni’s 1800’s novel Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed), belonging to the nun from Monza since childhood. The collection also includes a series of engravings and lithographs of sacred images (17th-20th century), special dress worn by the confraterniteies in sacred processions, various examples of devotional statuary in wood, plaster and terracotta, and small figures for cribs (19th century).